STILL they come, the mourners, the spectators, the slow-shuffling procession along the side of the Thames, the line stretching out to the crack of doom.

The meme is monarchy, the theme respect. For some, for many, the feeling is adoration. They loved their Queen.

In Edinburgh too, in Glasgow, across Scotland, palpable emotion. Tears and tributes for the Sovereign who died at Balmoral.

At Holyrood – Parliament, that is, not Palace – the First Minister led (mostly) vigorous paeans of praise for the late Monarch, the Queen of Scots.

However, these tributes will inevitably subside. The culmination will be two minutes of collective silence at the close of the Queen’s funeral on Monday.

Many among our population will stand in mute respect, perhaps shedding final tears. Some will join in polite solidarity. Others will go about their business, perhaps with a puzzled shrug.

That period of silence might also offer an opportunity to ask ourselves: stands the UK where it did?

The Elizabethan age has ended, Scotland’s first, England’s second. What might portend under Charles III, the Caroline or Carolean age?

Let us remember firstly the limits, the constraints upon the Crown; the constitutional monarchy promised by King Charles in both Holyrood and Westminster.

Next week will bring an emergency budget designed to tackle the crisis in fuel and family costs.

That will fall to the elected UK Government, with the Scottish Government standing ready to respond with devolved powers.

The quite remarkable and faintly surreal atmosphere of this period of mourning will steadily transform back to the mundane, to the enduring anxiety of this post-pandemic age. In truth, for many, those worries never went away.

Again, though, the role of the Palace will be strictly confined, as under Queen Elizabeth.

By promising a constitutional monarchy, the new King is explicitly stating that his days of none too subtle public intervention in such issues as climate change are over – although I expect discreet private pressure may still be applied.

Further, the Royal Family have been touched by the display of emotion at the Queen’s demise. But Palace courtiers will understand the need to sustain broader support for the institution of monarchy.

It is no accident that public mourning for the Queen has been matched by visits to every part of the UK by senior members of the royal family. Scotland, of course, to the fore.

The permanent aim, entirely understandable from a Palace perspective, is to protect the role, status and popularity of the royal family, the Firm.

In which regard, one notes the efforts to recreate and display harmony between King Charles’ sons, William and Harry.

One notes earlier efforts to project Camilla in preparation for her new role as Queen Consort. One recalls the damage limitation exercise cocooning Prince Andrew, even as his royal role was minimised.

So what might we expect, beyond those fundamental efforts to maintain the monarchy?

Certainly, support from the Palace for the Commonwealth. It has now expanded beyond its original imperial roots and shows signs of buoyancy, without gaining any substantial economic or diplomatic clout.

King Charles will undoubtedly seek to assist the deployment of “soft power” in projecting the UK abroad.

The funeral on Monday with presidents Biden, Macron et al will be a gathering of the globally potent, as well as a State and family occasion.

That reflects respect for the Queen, in addition to the UK’s historic standing. Again, though, Britain’s future clout rests on economic, diplomatic and military contributions, not primarily the monarchy.

Then, back on these shores, there is the Union. The United Kingdom itself.

I know, I know, there is a clear and historical difference between the regal union of 1603 and the parliamentary one of 1707. I grasp the concept.

However, it is no accident that the late Queen made very occasional Delphic comments anent the Union.

In 1977, during a time of devolutionary debate, she said she could not forget that she was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, despite counting Scottish royalty among her ancestors.

In 2014, during the independence referendum, she told a bystander outside Crathie Kirk that she hoped people would “think very carefully about the future”. That was rightly seen as a defence of the Union.

We might reasonably start from the presumption that her successor shares those views. We might also note that his power to intervene is decidedly limited.

So what might Nationalists make of this new era? Consider the longer narrative here.

The SNP used to support a referendum on the monarchy under independence. They shelved that, partly because it was a distraction from the core argument but also because retaining the Crown could be offered as an element of reassurance to doubters. Such is still the case.

At Holyrood, Patrick Harvie of the Greens declined to subsume his sentiments. He commended the “tide of progress” while abjuring the importance of “status or title”.

Some will admire his bluntness. By contrast, the First Minister’s tone was one of modesty, sadness and praise.

I do not see Nicola Sturgeon as an ardent monarchist. Her Holyrood speech blended personal anecdote and admiration, alongside a depiction of the sovereign as an anchor in a “turbulent” world.

Please note that such a description does not in any way preclude independence. We are back to that distinction between 1603 and 1707. We are back to retaining the Crown, should independence occur.

Sir John Curtice, the doyen of psephologists, has noted that the majority of people who are ready to endorse independence would also prefer a republic.

But he advises us also to consider the question of causality. Opinions on independence are not driven by views about the monarchy. Rather, it is the other way round.

More simply, there are no independence votes to be gained by espousing Republicanism. But there could be some potential supporters to be deterred.

These are all thoughts for another time. For now, we await the closure of that London line of sympathy, we await the funeral of Queen Elizabeth.

And we await the Westminster coronation next year of King Charles III, with the Stone of Destiny temporarily transferred from Edinburgh Castle.