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Who would have believed it? Who could have dreamt of the scenes of such unbridled joy, not just outside Buckingham Palace over this extraordinary Jubilee bank holiday, but up and down the country?

From the Union Jacks festooned across suburban streets, to the flags fluttering from poles on village greens and hanging from countless lamp posts, the outpouring of affection has surprised even the most ardent of royalists.

Not even that most familiar of curmudgeons, the British weather, could dampen the spirit and wonder of four spectacular summer days.

Yet many feared that we would celebrate the Queen‘s 70 years on the throne with nothing more than a stifled yawn.

The Mall was packed with thousands of well-wishers today for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant

The Mall was packed with thousands of well-wishers today for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant

The Queen is celebrating her 70 years of reign, the longest of any UK monarch

The Queen is celebrating her 70 years of reign, the longest of any UK monarch

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with their three children, all sing the national anthem with the crowd outside Buckingham Palace

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with their three children, all sing the national anthem with the crowd outside Buckingham Palace

Meanwhile people up and down the UK celebrated with their own events, including fancy dress parties such as the one here in Greater Manchester

Meanwhile people up and down the UK celebrated with their own events, including fancy dress parties such as the one here in Greater Manchester

Animals got in on the action too as owners dressed their pets in jubilee themed costumes

Animals got in on the action too as owners dressed their pets in jubilee themed costumes

With a monarchy divided among itself by family discord and soiled by scandal, there was a sense of ‘how much do people really care?’.

The evidence – from the 18million across Britain who sat down for street parties yesterday to the hundreds of thousands who poured into London for the people’s pageant, the pop concert and the Red Arrows spectacular flypast – was a resounding expression of national unity. Even television audiences, no longer as reliable a barometer of the nation’s mood because of the growth of social media platforms, spoke of the gratitude and respect many Britons have for its monarch.

Close to 12million watched the concert at the Palace on a night when rival attractions included an England football match, 7.5million tuned in for the Trooping the Colour on Thursday and another five million saw the BBC’s broadcast of the lighting of the beacons. These are not insignificant figures.

Last night as the pageantry and carnival reached its climax, the Mall became a river of friendly humanity flowing between the trees that line the route to the Palace, impatient for one last glimpse of the Queen who thrilled the crowds by coming from Windsor to take their salute.

From the Palace balcony – with its peek of Prince Charles’s vision of a future slimmed-down monarchy of him, Camilla, William, Kate and their children – her view of the euphoria must have been one of bewildered delight.

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After the Royal Family’s extraordinary battering – much of it self-inflicted – over the Prince Andrew affair and the recriminations surrounding the exile of Prince Harry and Meghan, what we witnessed this weekend was not just a patriotic love for the Queen.

It was also a demonstration of support for the noblest virtues of monarchy, of public service and of duty.

Many will see it too as a rejection of the celebrity-driven approach of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, once proclaimed as the royals for the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo era, but whose absence from yesterday’s final day of celebrations was barely noticed. The Queen, of course, was the focus – and she certainly played her part, from that wonderful Paddington Bear skit to her balcony curtain calls.

But, at the same time, what these four days have showed us is that talk of a Britain without royalty and that the Queen, as republicans have it, should be ‘Elizabeth the Last’, are simply wrong.

The crowds that cheered Prince Louis’s show-stealing antics and his brother George’s sing-along to Sweet Caroline also cherish the Queen’s link to the Second World War and the last vestiges of Empire, because of its thread to the future.

Right now our love for monarchy is greater and more enduring than ever. But what about that future? Ahead we could be destined for three old or ageing kings. Charles is already in his mid-70s, and if his mother lives as long as the Queen Mother he could be in his ninth decade before inheriting the throne.

The pageant on Sunday even included a 3D hologram on the side of the Queen's iconic golden carriage

The pageant on Sunday even included a 3D hologram on the side of the Queen’s iconic golden carriage

The Queen's great-grandchildren made well-received appearances throughout the jubilee weekend

The Queen’s great-grandchildren made well-received appearances throughout the jubilee weekend

The Red Arrows have appeared in many major royal events to perform or participate in flyovers as one of the UK's most iconic aircraft

The Red Arrows have appeared in many major royal events to perform or participate in flyovers as one of the UK’s most iconic aircraft

Members of the royal guard salute outside Buckingham Palace

Members of the royal guard salute outside Buckingham Palace

William and George may also not accede until they are in their 60s or even their 70s.

But does that even matter? For it has been the arrival of fresh blood in the Royal Family, first with Kate Middleton and then with her and William’s delightful children, which has proved to be such a positive and stabilising influence.

As the Queen has aged we have seen a democratising of royalty: Charles picking up many of his mother’s duties with William, Kate and (over this weekend) their children, doing much of the glad-handing and flesh-pressing so vital in keeping that cord between monarchy and people alive.

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Over the years the royal ‘firm’ has ridden out many bumps in the road. The death of Princess Diana in 1997 was one such bump. She was the image of modernity, a princess for the age, famously described (but not by Tony Blair as he claimed) as ‘the people’s princess’.

The Windsors, by contrast, came across then as hidebound, cold and out of touch.

Yet five years later, by the time of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, the scale of the devotion and enthusiasm for the Queen and her family was remarkable. Ten years later at the Diamond Jubilee that affection was on show all over again.

However the Platinum Jubilee has been conducted against more perilously choppy waters. The saga of the Sussexes and their litany of complaints about the Royal Family – from alleged racist remarks about the colour of baby Archie’s skin, to a lack of sympathy for Meghan’s mental wellbeing – could easily have proved to be a major distraction.

The iconic Red Arrows performed a flypast to mark the pageant on Sunday using their red, white and blue smoke

The iconic Red Arrows performed a flypast to mark the pageant on Sunday using their red, white and blue smoke

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended jubilee celebrations, but kept a low profile

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended jubilee celebrations, but kept a low profile

Spirit has been high throughout the jubilee celebrations with thousands coming from all over the world to take part

Spirit has been high throughout the jubilee celebrations with thousands coming from all over the world to take part

The Queen made a surprise appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony with three other generations of her family

The Queen made a surprise appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony with three other generations of her family

The pageant made use of the latest technology, with a 3D hologram of the Queen

The pageant made use of the latest technology, with a 3D hologram of the Queen

The Queen's great-grandchildren rather stole the show at any event they attended!

The Queen’s great-grandchildren rather stole the show at any event they attended! 

Prince Charles could be seen pointing out some of the acts of the Jubilee pageant to his four-year-old grandson

Prince Charles could be seen pointing out some of the acts of the Jubilee pageant to his four-year-old grandson

Louis and his mother Kate Middleton clearly have a strong bond as he clung to her neck while enjoying some of the pageant acts

Louis and his mother Kate Middleton clearly have a strong bond as he clung to her neck while enjoying some of the pageant acts

At the end of the pageant, thousands celebrated the Queen's balcony appearance by singing the national anthem

At the end of the pageant, thousands celebrated the Queen’s balcony appearance by singing the national anthem

Also in the royal box were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne (not pictured). Leading politicians such as the PM and Sir Keir Starmer also had prime seats

Also in the royal box were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne (not pictured). Leading politicians such as the PM and Sir Keir Starmer also had prime seats

Sunday's pageant was filled with dancing, music and performance art, as well as military parades and British icons

Sunday’s pageant was filled with dancing, music and performance art, as well as military parades and British icons

Residents of Teapot Lane in Aylesford, Kent, judge their Jubilee Bake-Off cake making competition during a street party on day four of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Residents of Teapot Lane in Aylesford, Kent, judge their Jubilee Bake-Off cake making competition during a street party on day four of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

During the weekend the Queen sat down with the much-loved Paddington Bear for tea and marmalade sandwiches - with the Queen even finding one such sandwich in her own handbag

During the weekend the Queen sat down with the much-loved Paddington Bear for tea and marmalade sandwiches – with the Queen even finding one such sandwich in her own handbag

the Queen filmed with the crew from Paddington for half a day in Buckingham palace for the surprise short film which the public loved

the Queen filmed with the crew from Paddington for half a day in Buckingham palace for the surprise short film which the public loved

Patience for a couple who have chosen to wash so much dirty linen in public through friendly US television networks has seen the goodwill that once existed towards them diminished. Inevitably, Harry and Meghan’s decision to attend some of the four-day events pushed them centre stage. However as the weekend progressed even the will-they, won’t-they palaver about whether the Sussexes could make up with William and Kate became unimportant.

When it didn’t happen the public had made up its own mind: It was not prepared to let this desperately sad rift overshadow the tributes to the Queen.

The same was certainly true of Prince Andrew. Barely six months ago it was feared that the sexual abuse case against him would inflict untold damage on the Queen’s Jubilee. His exclusion from any of the events was barely noted.

In the days and weeks ahead, courtiers will try to make sense of the triumphs and successes of these past days.

They know that our love for monarchy may have been reawakened in the crescendo of all the breathtaking events and that right now its mystery and mystique seems as strong as ever. But it is a fragile concept. In the absence of the Queen from future national events, how secure will public affection for Charles and his heirs be? And can it possibly match all that we have seen for the Queen?

One of the reasons for the success of the Queen’s reign has been her omerta-like silence on every important issue. Charles, on the other hand, has offered his views on a whole range of subjects, which might imperil his hold on the love of the people. He has got one thing right, though.

The roars from the crowd in the Mall yesterday suggested that it approved of the balcony line-up as a taste of things to come.

There will, of course, be changes. One of the things I have learned over the years is the monarchy’s unique ability to adapt – and after reporting on four Jubilees, I would say the omens are good.

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