“WAS that it?” an older man asked his friend after King Charles’s motorcade passed down the Royal Mile.

“That wasn’t all I was thinking it was,” a child told their parent at much the same time.

“All this? Why? For this small, small thing?” a security guard asked a group of their colleagues.

These snippets of conversation, heard the first time the monarch passed along Edinburgh’s famous central street, summed up the feeling in the air.

The day heralded as a “mini-coronation” for the King in Scotland proved to be underwhelming in the extreme.

The King’s motorcade arrived and passed without fanfare. At various times, columns of cavalry and bagpipers also went up the Royal Mile, but not once did they do so together or with a monarch in tow.

There was also a singular Red Arrow flypast, but that happened after everything else had gone – even most of the people.

The broken nature of the parades meant the crowds thinned massively after the King first drove up the road to St Giles’ at around 2.05pm. No one was expecting anything further.

As a result, even fewer people were there to see him drive just as quickly back down the Royal Mile around 75 minutes later.

“I totally nearly missed him,” one bystander – who had only been visiting Edinburgh for a city break – told this paper.

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“How much money have they spent blocking it, paying all these people, these policemen, then just to [motion of zipping by]. All that money, he could have at least slowed down.”

There were two main protest sites at the “mini-coronation”, both organised by republican groups. The first was outside St Giles’ cathedral and had been placed in a spot that the King was never actually due to pass.

Graham Smith, Republic’s chief executive, said the area wasn’t bad for being heard though, and he was right. The chants of “Not My King” being audible on both the TV coverage and for those at the ceremony inside the cathedral testify to that.

The second protest, pulled together by Our Republic, was held outside the Scottish Parliament but getting there was far from simple, given that the roads to the Parliament were all closed off.

When this reporter visited the site – by taking a right down an alley and looping around the back of Holyrood – there were around 50 people listening to speeches and a few more filtering in slowly.

Overall among the crowds, there were roughly as many people sporting Union flags and royal bunting as there were people wearing “Not My King” stickers or waving placards. Both were massively outnumbered by the apathetic and inconvenienced.

Languages from every corner of the world could be heard up and down the Royal Mile on Wednesday, and not a small percentage of them were annoyed. The speed at which Charles’s motorcade whizzed up the road prevented many of them from experiencing the interesting cultural moment they had stumbled across.

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And stumbled across it they had. A significant chunk of people in the crowd didn’t actually realise anything was happening at all until they were in central Edinburgh anyway.

“I feel nothing,” one visitor, from China but studying in England, told The National as they waited in a crowd which had gathered to cross the Royal Mile at St Mary’s.

The five busloads of police seemed to spend the vast majority of their time (some of it was spent arresting people) explaining how to go around all the barriers that had been set up.

“It’s closed. It’s been well advertised that it’s closed,” one exasperated officer explained to yet another person looking to get across the street, shut despite a severe lack of crowding nearer the Scottish parliament.

“You’ve got to go down and around,” they explained. “It won’t take more than half an hour.”

If only that description had fit the whole event.