It started as a murmur among the children on their parents’ shoulders – the only way of seeing what was going on, so deep was the crowd on the Long Walk, Windsor.
“I see Harry, I see Harry.” Then, “And Meghan!”
The parents didn’t believe them. Harry had appeared to leave his family members as fast as possible on Friday, after all, and Meghan was persona non grata.
But then, there they all were, as if the past two years had never happened.
Under a threatening storm cloud which never broke, the Royal foursome walked shoulder to shoulder through the gates of Windsor Castle, past a tide of flowers and notes of condolence to greet the throng of well-wishers.
Side by side, as if they had never been apart, they accepted flowers, cuddly toys and an endless stream of well wishes, comforting the public just as they tried to console them.
The Prince and Princess of Wales and Duke and Duchess of Sussex put on such a show of unity, it was as if they had never been away.
The Princess of Wales later said to a family that “at times like these you’ve got to come together”.
There is only one woman who could have brought it about: their grandmother the Queen, who the Royal Family say tried to see the best in everyone, and never lost sight of her “much-loved” family across the pond.
Over the course of – minutes, the couples made their way down a line shaking hundreds of hands, splitting up to cover more ground then swapping sides in the well-practiced routine of the royal walkabout.
A royal source said the Prince of Wales asked his brother and his wife to join them in viewing the tributes.
The source said: “The Prince of Wales invited the Duke and Duchess to join him and the Princess of Wales earlier.”
The Prince of Wales cooed over the chubby cheeks of a baby, the Duke of Sussex told a woman she was his “hero”.
The Princess of Wales, who politely accepted a stream of gushing compliments about her new title, said she was “going to blush”, and the Duchess of Sussex offered her most heartfelt of hugs to excited young women.
Even the Wales children seemed present, with the Princess sharing the wise words of her youngest son Prince Louis with waiting children.
“Louis said at least Grannie is with Great Grandpa now,” she said.
Banita Ranow, 28, among the crowd on the Long Walk, said the Princess of Wales was “welling up” as she spoke to the children.
The well-wisher from west London also spoke of her surprise at seeing the two brothers and their wives together, adding: “It was really nice.”
Her mother Baljinder Ranow, 64, said it was “fabulous”, adding: “It was so beautiful to see.”
She said: “I felt so emotional and I felt the Queen would have loved it. I just hope in the future they remain like that and that the brothers come together, and the families.”
The last time the Prince and Duke viewed flowers together was at the 20th anniversary of the death of their mother, where they stepped outside their then-home at Kensington Palace.
Before that, the sight of them viewing tributes to their mother, at the ages of 15 and 12, will be forever etched on the public’s memory.
Saturday was an altogether different matter.
Adults, and with the support of their wives, they smiled and waved through their sorrow, appearing grateful to share in the strange grief experienced by the public too.
While it is usual for royals who have been given flowers or a gift by a member of the public to an aide standing near them, at one point Meghan appeared to hold on to one of the many bouquets she was handed, in what appeared to be touching tribute to the well-wisher who had brought it.
Such was the abundance of flowers, that by the end of the 40 minute visit they were spilling out of aides’ arms.
In scenes which had until then seemed impossible, all made conversation as they walked, making the effort to point out particularly moving written notes and stand-out tributes left for the Queen.
As they departed, the Prince offered his brother and sister-in-law a lift, driving up the Long Walk to their nearby homes on the Windsor Estate.
The atmosphere was louder and more jolly than among those who gathered on Friday at Buckingham Palace to greet the new King.
Scott and Penny Dunn, who live locally, were some of the many hundred who turned out to cheer the two couples as they accepted flowers and words of condolence and support from the public.
Mrs Dunn, 42, told The Telegraph: “They asked our daughters what flowers they bought, we brought roses because the Queen was very special.
“I said it was lovely to see both of the boys together. She said “at times like this you’ve got to come together”, which I thought was really nice.
“It’s nice to see them together.”
The couple, along with their daughters Olivia and Ruby, 13 and 10, had just intended to lay some flowers at the Castle while walking their Cockapoo, Freddy, but caught up in the melee of the Royal walkabout.
Mr Dunn said: “It was a real privilege. She asked the girls how old they were and where they’ve come from. It was amazing.”
Mr Scott, 46, said: “It’s a real privilege to meet them. It’s amazing of them to give so much time to people who care for their family.”
Mrs Scott said: “We’re local, so the Queen’s always been a big part of our lives really. We can see the castle from my dad’s house, so we’ve always grown up with it. I think everyone’s felt a massive sense of loss. Olivia has been in tears for the last three days constantly. You can’t stop her crying.”
Stuart and Sarah Patrick had cycled to Windsor from near Egham to see the Royals, with their children Elliot Kerron and Lilee.
The Prince of Wales shook everyone in the family’s hand.
“It was once in a lifetime, phenomenal – I’ve never seen or done anything like it before,” said Mr Patrick.