By Stephen M. Silverman And Simon Perry
Updated June 02, 2003 10:41 AM

As if to emphasize the longevity of the British monarchy, three generations of Windsors took their seats at a service of respectful and dignified pomp and ceremony Monday to mark the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation, PEOPLE reports from its London bureau.

Second in line to the throne Prince William, 20, sat next to his father, Prince Charles, 54, who, in turn, took his place beside his 77-year-old mother, the Queen, in Westminster Abbey on a day of celebrations to mark the golden anniversary.

And for William — whose 21st birthday arrives later this month — it was something of a precursor of what is to come, as trumpets heralded the special occasion and the great and the good rubbed shoulders with royalty. (One day, this will all be his.)

It was the first sighting of the pin-up prince since he left his university at St. Andrews, Scotland, for the summer break. His navy blue, double-breasted suit and salmon pink and polka-dot silk tie were in stark contrast to the informal dress of last week’s photos, issued to mark the halfway point in his four-year art history degree.

A few yards away sat Charles’s longtime companion, Camilla Parker Bowles, 55, who had been invited to the service by the Queen — another sign of her increasing acceptance into the public, as well as private, side of the family. She is helping Prince Charles host a dinner at Clarence House, where Charles and his sons, William and Harry, will live this fall.

Monday, however, was all about the Queen, who donned a spring-like yellow jacket and skirt suit, matched with a yellow hat, decorated with a black feather. Prayers were said during the service, which began with the hymn, “All people that on earth do dwell,” which also was sung at the 1953 coronation.