As Britain stands at a national standstill for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday, it is grappling with an uncomfortable conundrum: what should and should not be canceled out of respect for the monarch?
Sports and cultural events have been almost completely suspended on Monday, the first state funeral in the UK since the death of Winston Churchill in 1965. Museums, banks, businesses, shops and schools will also be closed today on Bank Holidays.
But while those closures were expected following the death of the seven-decade reign, others have had more serious consequences, leaving some Britons confused and angry.
All over the country, non-urgent hospital appointments have been delayed due to staff shortages, adding to unprecedented waiting lists for health care in Britain. Holidaymakers have seen their accommodation plans disrupted, travelers have been warned that flights will be grounded to avoid noise in London, and funerals and food banks are set to riot.
“It’s sad that the Queen has gone, but potentially letting someone get worse is not helpful,” said photographer Dan Lewsey, who told CNN his mother’s diagnosis was delayed by a hospital in Shropshire, western England. “Normal life must be able to continue to some extent.”
The confusion reflects a country that has struggled with how best to honor the queen. Despite decades of planning for Elizabeth II’s death, the government has refused to issue firm guidelines on what should and shouldn’t go ahead during the period of national mourning, leaving many decisions to providers.
This has resulted in very different approaches to companies and services. Britons urged not to cycle or go without weather updates; Some, like a supermarket’s decision to turn down the beeping noise of its checkout, have been mocked online. But others have left people worried about essential provisions.
“The closure of essential services such as food banks, scheduled hospital appointments and funeral services is disrespectful to the Queen. It is a mark of disrespect for the British public,” said Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, a political activist and author of the book This Is Why I Resist.
Discontinuation of certain medical treatments caused great concern. “Of course it’s very sad that the Queen has died, and the funeral is important, but we’re asking people to withhold life-saving medical treatment for the aristocracy,” Marcia Allison, 39, told PA Media after learning of her 69-year-old death. – The old father found the dentist’s appointment canceled on Monday.
“It is surprising that people like him are asked to lose their teeth for an unelected head of state in the 21st century. This is not democratic,” he told the news agency.
The holidays are affecting staff across the country and have left many hospitals unable to meet their appointments. Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in south-east Wales apologized for the “unavoidable disruption”, and told patients it was “postponing all scheduled appointments and clinics” for Monday.
It comes at a particularly difficult time for patients. The British National Health Service has been working under great strain; A record 6.8 million people are waiting for treatment, according to the latest figures from the British Medical Association (BMA), and there are fears Monday’s cancellations could increase queues further.
The BMA’s arm representing junior doctors expressed anger that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) delayed the exams on Monday. “Junior Doctors spend months reviewing these exams. Delays take a toll on the mind as well as affect training progression said the BMA.
An NHS spokesman said: “As with any bank holiday, NHS staff will be working to ensure that urgent and emergency services, including urgent dental and GP appointments, are available and will be contacting patients with local trusts, if necessary, to existing ones about appointments.”
But while missed hospital appointments are often the result of sudden staff shortages, many businesses have also decided to cancel regular services on Monday, often leaving customers in the dark.
Center Parcs, the company that operates a number of resorts in the UK, sparked criticism across the country on Wednesday when it announced plans to close on Monday, leaving guests without accommodation.
The company has since pushed back its plan to remove guests from the sites by a day, but will still not allow customers to come in and check-in for accommodation on Monday, forcing some to find alternative places to stay on short notice.
“He’s out front,” said David Grierson, 33, who was planning to drive the length of England this weekend and arrive at Center Parcs in Cumbria on Monday. “Now we have to find additional accommodation … we are looking at upwards of £200 ($230) a night (and) around the Center Parcs area, availability is very poor.
“What they’ve done is a little out of proportion,” Grierson told CNN. “I would totally understand if they made a change on the day, but to block people once they were on the road has just stunned us.”
Center Parcs told CNN: “We believe it was the right thing to do and this decision was taken as a mark of respect and to allow as many colleagues as possible to participate in this historic moment.” A company spokesperson added that messages sent from the company’s social media account, warn the guests on Monday they must “remain in their lodgings” “a mistake”.
“Guests are, of course, allowed outside their accommodation,” the spokesperson clarified.
Public places, meanwhile, have addressed how and how not to honor the monarch. Images and tributes to the Queen are almost impossible to avoid in British cities; bus stops, train stations, shop windows and billboards all have his face. During her lifetime, the Queen became probably the most popular woman who ever lived; however, he has been even more impressive in death.
Some tributes, however, seemed more natural than others. Guinea Pig Awareness Week was postponed to avoid clashing with the monarch’s funeral. An image The Queen’s death surrounded by cans of beans in a British supermarket attracted mild mockery online. Another supermarket chain, Morrisons, has confirmed to CNN that it has lowered the volume of “beeps” made when a product is scanned at checkout, out of respect for the late Elizabeth II.
Many companies and groups have teamed up with Center Parcs to provide amazing advice. British Cycling apologized after “strongly” advising people not to cycle at state funerals; has now removed that advice from its websites, accepting “We got this wrong.”
The government advised businesses that “There is no obligation for organizations to suspend business during the period of National Mourning. Depending on the nature and location of the business and the tone of the planned events, some businesses may wish to consider closing or postponing events, particularly on the day of the State Funeral.”
Confusion has also surrounded other funerals across the country on the day of the Queen’s death. “If a selected crematorium or cemetery has decided to close, for any reason, funeral directors are working with families to find an alternative date or location that they are happy with,” said the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD). in a statement
“The NAFD and other trade bodies in the funeral industry have directed their members that these decisions must be driven by the needs and wishes of the bereaved families,” the group said. He added that reduced transport links during Bank Holidays could prevent guests from arriving at funerals.
Flights will also be affected; Heathrow Airport, one of the world’s largest transport hubs, said on Monday it would cancel some flights to reduce noise pollution over London on the day of the funeral. The airport had earlier suspended flights two hour period on Wednesday to “ensure silence” during a ceremonial procession of the Queen’s coffin.
“Most courts and tribunals will not be held” on Monday, the country’s courts and tribunals service he said Driving tests it will not be done. And food banks have been forced to shuffle staff to stay open; The food bank in Wimbledon, south-west London, initially said it would close, but later clarified would be able to run on Monday, thanks to the “tremendous help” of last-minute volunteers.
Monday’s funeral will be watched by millions of Britons. It will be the “biggest policing event” the London Metropolitan Police force has ever held, the force’s Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy told the media on Friday.
But companies that did not take part in the event have been left in the lurch as they balance their services and staff with the important nature of the Queen’s death.
“This is a moment of great national significance, regardless of your views on the monarchy,” Grierson said, reflecting on the cancellations seen in the UK as a whole after his holiday was interrupted.
“(But) a lot of businesses may not have government guidance on what to do, so they’re trying to figure it out as they go along.”