How period of mourning will affect schools and sporting events, and what visitors to London can expect
On Saturday, the new King Charles III confirmed that a public holiday would take place on the day of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The date for that funeral has not yet been announced, though it is expected to be on or around Monday 19 September.
People involved in planning for businesses and other organisations have long expected that the day of the funeral would be treated as an unofficial bank holiday, with some businesses closed and workers sent home.
The period of mourning began on Friday and lasts for 10 days.
Those in the public and private sector involved in planning their organisation’s response to the Queen’s death are expected to be flexible and give employees the day off if they are particularly upset.
The government has released guidance saying there is no need for businesses to close or sporting events to be cancelled during the national mourning period.
It added that some business owners and event organisers may wish to consider closing or postponing events, especially on the day of the funeral, depending on the nature and tone, but there is no obligation to do so.
The London Stock Exchange opened as normal on Friday morning following the Queen’s death, while other business, and daily life in general, has continued to a relatively normal extent.
The Department for Education has said schools and colleges in England should remain open as normal during the mourning period.
In a message to principals and heads, the DfE said it would issue further guidance after details of the funeral are confirmed by the royal household.
The DfE said: “Schools and further education settings should remain open. While normal attendance is expected, headteachers continue to have the power to authorise leaves of absence for pupils in exceptional circumstances.”
It said schools may want to “consider conducting special activities, holding assemblies or adapting planned lessons” to commemorate the Queen’s life during the mourning period.
Rail strikes planned for 15 to 17 September have been called off.
Preparations are underway for what is expected to be potentially unprecedented pressure on the transport network in London as large numbers of people converge on the capital in the days before the funeral.
Government memos obtained by Politico in 2021 warned of a worst-case scenario in which London became “full” as mourners flocked there, with accommodation, roads, public transport, food, policing, healthcare and basic services severely stretched.
As well as possible extra services being provided, visitors to London will see tributes to the Queen at stations, commemoration pictures and also, possibly, travel ambassadors helping people as they go about their journeys.
Sports have been told there is no obligation to cancel events and while many football fixtures have been postponed this weekend, other events including cricket, golf, rugby league and rugby union are going ahead.
The Great North Run is due to take place on Sunday and its organisers said on Friday that it would go ahead. A statement posted on Twitter said: “Whilst we want runners to enjoy the day, we encourage everyone to be mindful of the very special circumstances in which the event will be taking place.”
The move was welcomed by many, including by those who pointed out that the run raised a large amount of money for charity.
Sports event organisers from across the UK were involved in a call with government on Friday morning, where they were advised they may wish to cancel anything scheduled for the day of the Queen’s funeral.
The BBC has announced that both Friday and Saturday’s Proms have been cancelled while the TUC has postponed its annual four-day congress, which was due to be held in Brighton from Sunday.
Race meetings were halted on Thursday while the British Horseracing Authority said on Friday that cancellations would extent to Saturday and that decisions would be made in due course about other events during the mourning period.
Most shops are expected to remain open, though some will close on the day of the funeral, particularly those close to the route of the procession.
However, the department store chain Selfridges said it would shut its doors on Friday as it led business tributes to the Queen. It said it intended to reopen stores on Saturday with their usual opening hours.
Inside branches of major retailers, shoppers may find that promotions are not being pushed quite so loudly and in-store music will reflect the sombre tone of the airwaves.
“Make sure music in stores is appropriate and ensure that things are consistent with the national mood,” reads one piece of guidance, which adds that steps should be taken to ensure that flags are at half-mast.
During the official mourning period, most announcements, visits and press releases will be paused.
Important information will still be communicated, but probably only on gov.uk. All civil servants who have public-facing or ceremonial roles will be asked to dress appropriately in mourning clothes.
The courts fell silent on Friday while cases were briefly brought to a halt as judges expressed their “profound sorrow” at the death of the Queen.
Among lawyers and court users who gathered in the Great Hall of the Old Bailey to observe a two-minute silence on Friday morning were some Old Bailey judges who wore “mourning bands” with dark lines around their necks instead of their usual collars.
Traditionally, these are worn for the entire mourning period but are not obligatory.
Local councils – where flags are flying at half-mast – are meanwhile opening books of condolences, including online.
Portsmouth city council, Westminster city council, Swansea council, Derby city council, Preston city council, Nottingham city council, Lancashire county council and Belfast city council are among those who have already set up books for local residents to sign.
Elsewhere, the Church of England website has opened an online memorial book and encourages people to light a virtual candle for the Queen.
Concern has been expressed by some in the arts sector after the Arts Council sent an email saying it was reviewing funding application-related deadlines as it awaited further information.
The Arts Council said in the email it was waiting for further information on the public mourning period from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Broadcasters have been switching programming to sombre music and pre-planned packages while official social media accounts for corporate brands, organisations and charities are shifting to “dark” holding pages, sometimes just with messages of condolences to the royal family.
Broadcasters including BBC One and ITV have made changes to their regular programming schedules in the wake of the Queen’s death. The BBC is airing rolling news coverage on Friday with a BBC News special filling regular TV slots in between BBC News at One and BBC News at Six.
Programmes including EastEnders, Homes Under the Hammer, Bargain Hunt, and Doctors moved from their usual channel and were airing on BBC Two throughout the day.
However, Channel 4 has confirmed Gogglebox will air this evening as planned as the broadcaster feels it will bring a “valuable sense of continuity” for many of their viewers.
A statement from a Channel 4 spokesperson said: “Channel 4 has made significant changes to our schedule, including added extended news coverage, to ensure that Channel 4 is respectful following the news from Buckingham Palace about the death of Her Majesty the Queen.
“Channel 4 exists to offer viewers an alternative and that is particularly important at times like this. Gogglebox is a much-loved national institution and it will air as planned tonight bringing a valuable sense of continuity for many of our viewers.”
The websites and social media presences of corporate brands have already changed, while curators of social media accounts will be carefully considering output.
Visitors to some sites, such as that of Waitrose, will have been greeted on Friday morning with a picture of the Queen.
Twitter and Facebook profiles for Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s have been changed to muted colours or are simply black and white.
If events do go ahead on the day of the funeral, the government suggests that organisations may want to adjust the event timings so they do not clash with the funeral service and associated processions.
It adds: “As a mark of respect, and in keeping with the tone of national mourning, organisers may wish to hold a period of silence and/or play the national anthem at the start of events or sporting fixtures, and players may wish to wear black armbands.”