LONDON — With the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of Prince Charles IIIan era has ended and a second has begun for millions of Britons.
During this time of grief, reflection and unease about the future, NBC News crews traveled across the country to see how the new king’s subjects felt after the death of his mother.
Below is a selection of their comments.
St. James’s Palace, London
Prior to the ceremony, crowds gathered outside St. James’s Palace to witness the marching band and gunfights that followed the proclamation.
Among them were Sasza Bandiera, 37, and Rochelle Bandiera, 36, who brought their 6- and 4-year-old daughters to witness the historic event.
Rochelle Bandiera, a stay-at-home mum, said she was 11 when her parents took her to Kensington Palace after Princess Diana died. She wanted her daughters to have a similar memory of this historic moment and plans to lay flowers in the same place for Queen Elizabeth.
“I still remember the smell of flowers and lots of people crying,” she said, while holding her 4-year-old daughter, Tallulah, on her shoulders. “I want [my daughters] remember this day.
“It’s a patriotic thing to do,” her husband said. “That’s what you should do.”
“They very much viewed the Queen as a local and the Royal Family as part of their household.”
Robert McGregor at Balmoral said
Sasza Bandiera, the managing director of a local recruitment agency, said he remained “indifferent” to King Charles: “I don’t really know what the change will be or what it will look like.”
“He’s a bit old school,” his wife said.
Astrid Jacobs, Virginia Forbes and Penny McDermid were among the first to line up in the viewing area outside St. James’s Palace. The three women did not know each other but quickly became friends while they waited for the arrival of King Charles, members of the Privy Council and ambassadors to Commonwealth countries.
“It’s a very traditional part of what happens next. A lot of people don’t really know that,’ said Jacobs, who made the 60-mile trip to London from his home in Cambridge shortly after news of the Queen’s death was announced.
“It’s a mixed time I find, emotionally,” she said. “You try to reconcile the future with the pain you feel because of his loss. I was unprepared.
Jacobs last saw the Queen during her 70th Jubilee in June. She recalls a “silent understanding” spreading through the crowd that this would be her last public appearance.
Forbes, also a Cambridge resident, said she was inspired by the international outpouring of love and support for the Queen.
“It’s extraordinary in this age of cynicism and social media what’s coming out,” she said.
McDermid, from London, said she felt a huge sense of hope for the country’s future, but acknowledged the Queen was a “difficult act to follow”.
“She almost never took a wrong foot, wasn’t a political figure, was basically universally loved,” she said. “It’s going to be very hard to live up to this.”
Of King Charles, McDermid said she felt a kind of sympathy for him and the rest of the royal family, who must carry on with their official business despite mourning their matriarch. She also questions her stamina as the oldest monarch to ascend.
“He’s up to the task, but it’s a shame he’s so old,” she said.
For Scots living in rural Aberdeenshire, the Queen’s death at Balmoral Castle was like “the death of an important member of the community and a member of the family”, according to Robert McGregor, transport officer at the Aberdeen City Council, local government.
McGregor said he had been responsible for organizing fleets of double-decker buses carrying hundreds of mourners from nearby towns such as Ballater and Braemar.
The 50,000-acre estate, 70 miles north of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, was one of the Queen’s favorite residences, a place where she could enjoy long walks and other outdoor activities with her corgis iconic.
“We have people from all over Scotland and even around the world, but the vast majority of people I’ve spoken to are locals,” McGregor said. “They very much viewed the Queen as a local and the Royal Family as part of their household.”
Over the next few days, the Queen’s body will be transported from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh. Once there, it will travel to Holyroodhouse, the monarch’s official residence in Scotland, before being taken in a procession down the city’s Royal Mile to lie in state at St. Giles Cathedral, where the public can see the coffin for 24 hours.
That’s not to say the royals are universally – or even widely – loved here. A poll by British Future, a think tank, found earlier this year that 58% of Britons wanted to keep the monarchy, but that number fell to 45% when only Scotland was included.
“I don’t hate people, but the idea of an unelected, state-funded head of state is getting harder and harder to justify,” said Cailean Gillies, 33, dressed in tartan and playing bagpipes as he faced the cathedral. “That feeling is probably quite strong among a certain contingent in Scotland, particularly among the independence movement.”
Of course, thousands are expected to turn out to pay their respects as the late Queen makes her final journey back to London.
“We will try to get to the Royal Mile and the cathedral if we can, but the crowds will be huge,” said Andrew Golds, 51, who works in technology and is on holiday in Derby, England, with his partner. , Elaine Coyle, also 51 years old. “It has been an emotional week. I am over 50 and the queen is the only royal I have known. She was a role model for all of humanity, and this is the last time we can honor her, now she is gone.
Carrie Titterrell, 38, says she was ‘lucky’ to have met the Queen earlier this year when she worked as a caterer on the set of the Monarch’s video with Paddington Bear, recorded for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Titterrell said she did not speak directly with the Queen, but they met briefly at the time.
“It was fascinating and a real privilege,” said Titterrell, who traveled to Windsor Castle with her husband and children.
It was important to pay tribute to the Queen, she said.
Not everyone in Windsor is betting on the royal family. Ramin Cheruckal, 38, owner of souvenir shop Purple Gifts, said he was not considering stocking King Charles III merchandise as items related to the late Queen’s son have not proven popular in the past.
Instead, he said he expected Queen Elizabeth II’s memorabilia will be the centerpiece of her business for years to come.