The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Closures for queen’s funeral bring disruption across U.K.

(Dana Neely/Getty Images)

LONDON — The British government’s decision to declare Monday, Sept. 19, a public holiday for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral has led to a wave of closures, service disruptions and cancellations, including in essential industries such as transport and health care, and sparked a backlash among those with long-standing plans and appointments that day.

Hospitals have rescheduled nonurgent surgeries, funeral parlors have had to consult with the bereaved about delaying preparations and organizers of major sports, and cultural events have been forced to change their plans. The guidance from the government is to “allow individuals, businesses and other organisations to pay their respects to Her Majesty and commemorate Her reign, while marking the final day of the period of national mourning.”

There are typically eight so-called bank holidays per year in the United Kingdom, and businesses are used to working around them to maintain service, particularly because under British law businesses do not have to close on bank holidays and employees are not automatically entitled to the day off.

The last-minute decision to make Monday a holiday, coupled with the somber nature of the day, has left some employers scrambling as the government has encouraged them “to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take time off” for what it called “a unique national moment.”

Understanding the symbolism in the queen’s funeral processions

Below is a list of some of the major services and events being canceled or affected Monday.

Surgeries and doctor’s appointments

Many hospitals and general health practitioners have canceled long-standing appointments, including non-emergency procedures, and promised patients that they will reschedule them at a later date. But with the National Health Service (NHS) still facing covid-related backlogs, many patients fear they will have to wait months for another chance.

Rebecca Rose, a woman who called into Times Radio’s morning show on Wednesday, said her Monday appointment to see a mental health professional — which took over four months to secure — was canceled. She said she was told she would receive an email by Monday afternoon to reschedule her appointment, but she hadn’t received it by Wednesday.

“It’s very disheartening if I’m being honest,” she said, describing therapy as “a life line.”

“When you have been struggling so much with your mental health, I thought, ‘Oh finally, I’m going to be able to deal with this.’ … To then just be canceled … it’s kind of set me back quite a lot,” she continued.

Many took to Twitter to share their experiences of having long-standing appointments canceled unexpectedly.

While some NHS trusts, which manage local hospitals, have said they will do their utmost to keep services going as close to normal as possible, others have warned patients they will have to delay most appointments.

The health board of Aneurin Bevan Hospital in Wales said in a statement that it was “postponing all planned appointments and clinics” on Monday, though it noted that some patients’ urgent appointments could be upheld “if agreed with patients and the teams.” The disruptions were “unavoidable,” it said.

Funerals

Deborah Smith, spokeswoman for the National Association of Funeral Directors, said the directors of the more than 4,100 British funeral homes it represents have been advised that decisions to postpone funerals planned for Monday should be left entirely up to the family members of the deceased.

“Lots and lots of funerals are going ahead on Monday,” Smith told The Washington Post. But in many cases, family members will prefer to postpone to avoid disruptions tied to road traffic or irregular train service on the bank holiday, or because schools and child-care centers will be closed, making it difficult for parents of small children to attend.

On U.K. tour, a question for Charles: Can he be the king of hearts?

However, funerals involve more than just funeral directors and may have to be postponed if crematoriums or cemetery operators are closed, or if faith leaders do not work or cannot travel to the location of the funeral. According to some media reports, families have already faced hugely disruptive last-minute cancellations due to closures.

Postponing funerals Monday is also set to add to the existing national backlog. “There’s already quite a long wait in some parts of the country between death and the funeral” — typically, somewhere between two and four weeks, Smith said, due to delays in death registration and coroner investigations. “Inevitably, moving some funerals will have an impact on that.”

Events

Many major sports, arts and entertainment events scheduled for Monday have also been pushed back, either because organizers worried going ahead would appear tone deaf, or because the disruptions caused by the holiday would make it difficult to move forward as planned.

Press Enter to skip to end of carousel
Queen Elizabeth II
Laid to rest
Queen Elizabeth II has been buried in her final resting place next to Prince Philip, her husband of more than 70 years, capping an elaborate state funeral, which was invested with all the pomp, circumstance and showmanship that the monarchy, military and state could put on display for a global broadcast audience of millions. Here are some of the most memorable moments in photos and videos.
A new monarch

1/2

End of carousel

The British Fashion Council has canceled all official events Monday as part of London Fashion Week, which will run from Friday to Tuesday. It advised designers and brands to “respect the mood of the nation and period of national mourning by considering the timing of their image release.”

Police arrest anti-monarchy protesters at royal events in England, Scotland

Performances of over a dozen hit West End shows such as “Hamilton,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Phantom of the Opera” have also been canceled, and many theaters will close, including the historic Globe, which also canceled its 25th anniversary celebration on Sunday. Most major museums, including the National Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum, will close.

The Premier League postponed three soccer games “due to events surrounding The Queen’s funeral,” but matches are set to resume over the weekend preceding the funeral, following a days-long hiatus announced after the queen’s death.

Some of the closures have proved controversial. Center Parcs, a network of holiday villages popular with families, said all its British villages would close Monday starting at 10 a.m. local time “as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment.” This would have meant that guests checked in for a longer stay that included Monday would have had to leave the parks for just 24 hours and then come back.

In response to furious backlash from holidaymakers, Center Parcs said Tuesday that it had “reviewed our position regarding the very small number of guests who are not due to depart on Monday, and we will be allowing them to stay on our villages rather than having to leave and return on Tuesday.”

Flights

Heathrow Airport has warned that some flights will be disrupted on Wednesday afternoon “to ensure silence over central London” as the queen’s coffin is transported from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. The airport will also observe a minute of silence at 8 p.m. local time on Sunday and show the funeral on television screens Monday, it said in a statement.

Loading...