What is a national state of mourning and how long will it last?

Flowers have been laid outside Buckingham Palace in tribute to Her Majesty The Queen. Credit: PA

Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the UK is in a national state of mourning. 

It began yesterday, after the death of the Queen was announced on Thursday evening.

How is a state of mourning announced? 

A national state of mourning is usually recommended by the Prime Minister and approved by the reigning monarch, or the next in line to the throne.

King Charles III has declared a period of mourning following the death of the Queen.

The UK was last in national mourning following the Duke of Edinburgh's death in April 2021. 

The government has published a document on its website, outlining guidance for the period of national mourning - including information on ceremonial arrangements, flags, periods of silence, tributes, what websites and social media should do, what will happen to sporting events, and guidance for businesses. 

What does national mourning mean?

King Charles III met well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace earlier Credit: PA

There will be a number of changes during the mourning period.

Union flags, for example, will be flown at half-mast on royal residences, government buildings, armed forces establishments and at UK embassies overseas for the duration of the period.

Many other businesses and organisations may choose to fly their flags at half-mast during the period - although this is a personal choice.

Newsreaders and journalists are dressed in dark colours on screen. Extra news and special programs are ongoing with usual schedules moved to make way for coverage. This will last for several days at least, although it's up to broadcasters when they start to move towards more normal schedules.

One of the tributes left for the late monarch outside Buckingham Palace Credit: PA

There will be an official silence on the day of the Queen's funeral, which is likely to be on Monday 19th September.

Books of condolence have also opened in many prominent buildings and in British embassies abroad. There is an online book that can be signed on the Royal Family website.

Will businesses have to close? 

No. In a statement the government advises that "There is no obligation on organisations to suspend business during the National Mourning period...some businesses may wish to consider closing or postponing events, especially on the day of the State Funeral.

"This is at the discretion of individual businesses."

Public services will also continue as usual, however, there may be some changes to service availability. Services are running busier than usual in Central London and this can be expected to continue, especially on the day of the state funeral.

What about sporting events, will they take place in this period?

This is also something which is at the discretion of organisers, the guidance on national mourning states.

It suggests organisers of sporting fixtures may want to consider using black armbands and observing a silence before matches are played.

However, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and Scottish leagues have all opted to postpone this weekend’s fixtures.

Rugby Union, on the other hand, will go ahead this weekend. In a statement they said, "Rugby, at its heart, is about community and bringing people together, in good times and in sad."

Can I lay flowers in tribute? 

Flowers are a common expression of sorrow and appreciation on the death of a major figure. 

While people were asked not to lay flowers, due to Covid, following the death of Prince Philip, thousands of bouquets of flowers are now being laid at a number of sites across the UK.

Flowers are being laid across the UK in memory of the late monarch Credit: PA

Royal officials have requested that no official flowers be sent from organisations to the location of the State Funeral, Royal Residents or government offices.

They have suggested that at all official locations people should follow the advice and direction of stewards.

London - A memorial flower garden will be created in Green Park tomorrow and will be the main place for laying flowers near Buckingham Palace.

Windsor - Flowers can be laid on the Long Walk at Cambridge Gate close to the town centre.

Sandringham - Flowers can be laid on the estate and visitors will be directed to the correct location on arrival.

Belfast - Flowers can be laid at Hillsborough Castle.

Edinburgh - Flowers can be laid at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Balmoral - Flowers and tributes can be laid at the Main Gate to the Castle.

Cardiff - Flowers can be laid at the areas either side of the City Hall entrance.

Will public galleries or museums close?

Much like businesses, public galleries, museums or other similar venues are not obliged to close. However, organisations may choose to shut their doors on the day of the State Funeral.

How long will the period of national mourning last?

Mourning will last for around seventeen days, with an official day of national mourning during the Queen's funeral, expected to be in ten days time.

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