The government has issued official guidelines for the UK’s period of mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, which could impact travel, events and businesses.
The State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be preceded by a period of staging. The dates and details of these events will be announced by the Royal House in due course.
A period of national mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has now officially begun. The period of national mourning will continue until the end of the day of the national funeral. The royal family will then undertake a separate period of royal mourning, depending on the wishes of the king.
Buckingham Palace has issued official guidelines titled ‘The Disappearance of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’ to help people understand the expected behavior and etiquette of the public, businesses and public organizations during the period of mourning.
National mourning is a period of reflection in response to the death of the sovereign, or another member of the royal family or a very important person in national life.
This guide aims to provide the public, businesses and institutions with an explanation of national mourning and to give practical advice on how you or your organization may wish to observe public mourning during this time.
It covers, among other things:
Nevertheless, bereavement is very personal and we anticipate that individuals, families, communities and organizations will want to mark Her Majesty’s passing in their own way. The public or organizations are not expected to observe specific behaviors during the mourning period.
Public services will continue as usual, although there may be some changes in the availability of services on the day of the state funeral.
In addition to the UK government, devolved administrations, Crown dependencies and overseas territories will observe national mourning and issue separate guidelines.
Flags flown from royal residences, government buildings and military establishments were lowered following Her Majesty’s death.
Companies or other organizations wishing to pay tribute by lowering flags or remaining silent can follow the guidelines posted on GOV.UK.
Businesses and public services
There is no obligation for organizations to suspend their activities during the period of national mourning. Depending on the nature and location of their business and the tone of planned events, some businesses may consider closing or postponing events, particularly on the day of the state funeral, but this is at the discretion of individual businesses. Public services will continue as usual, although there may be some changes in service availability. Additional guidance on any potential state funeral day considerations will be posted as needed.
Throughout the period of national mourning, particularly on ceremonial days and during preparations for the state funeral, public transport in key locations will be very busy and journeys may take longer than usual. Further information will be announced by network operators, and you should check your route before traveling to ensure that all services are working as expected.
Many community organisations, including places of worship, local authorities and charities, will hold events commemorating Her Majesty’s life and service. This may include holding retreat (or similar) services, as well as opportunities for those with no religious beliefs to pay their respects. Local authorities will support the coordination of local events, so please check with them or your local place of worship for details.
Major events, entertainment and sports
There is no obligation to cancel or postpone sporting events and fixtures, or to close entertainment venues during the national mourning period. This is at the discretion of individual organizations. As a mark of respect, organizations may consider canceling or postponing events or closing venues on the day of the state funeral. They are under no obligation to do so and it is entirely at the discretion of the individual organizations.
If meetings or sporting events are scheduled on the day of the state funeral, organizations may wish to adjust event times so that they do not conflict with the times of the associated funeral and processions. As a sign of respect and in keeping with the tone of national mourning, organizers may wish to observe a period of silence and/or play the national anthem at the start of events or sporting matches, and players may wish to wear black armbands.
It is customary for mourners to leave floral tributes. This section outlines details of key locations where you can lay flowers and other tributes.
During this period of national mourning, the Government and the Royal Household respectfully request that no flowers, wreaths or official tributes be sent by organizations to the location of State Funerals, Royal Residences or Government Offices.
In your local community, there may be a place, such as a town hall or place of worship, where members of the public can lay flowers or tributes in memory of Her Majesty. Please check the website of your local authorityor local media for more information.
There are no physical condolence books in the royal residences. You can sign a book of condolences online on the Royal Family’s website.
There will be opportunities to sign condolence books at various town halls and other locations across the UK. Please check with your local authority.
Open your own condolence book
Any organization or person can open a book of condolences during the national mourning period.
There is no set format for a condolence book. The table setting is usually a trestle table on which the book is placed with a white tablecloth, an arrangement of flowers (usually lilies or other white flowers) and a framed formal photograph of Her Majesty. It can be an official portrait or a portrait taken during a previous royal visit. As a mark of respect, a black ribbon could be wrapped around the upper right corner.
Please note that the Royal House and Government will not be able to receive condolence books.
Websites and social networks
Online communication channels may also be used to reflect Her Majesty’s passing and participate in the period of national mourning. Organizations can recognize the time of mourning by making changes to their website homepage, such as using black borders or black banners.
Organizations and individuals may also wish to share their memories of Her Majesty online. There is no established way to mark Her Majesty’s passing on social media. Organizations may wish to revise their planned content for the period.
Any changes to websites or social media pages should take into account accessibility requirements for visually impaired users.
Official photographs and portraits of Her Majesty
It is not necessary to cover or remove existing official portraits or photographs in your organization of Her Majesty as a sign of respect. It is customary to leave them in place, at the discretion of the organization. For example, you will still see in many older public buildings official portraits on display of King George VI and other previous monarchs.
Public museums and galleries
Public museums, galleries or similar places are not obliged to close during the period of national mourning. Organizations may choose to close on the day of the state funeral, but there is no obligation to do so and it is at the discretion of each organization. As with other organisations, these institutions may wish to display or share images of previous royal visits, particularly if they are one of Her Majesty’s patronages.