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National mourning guidance published for transport, shops, sports and businesses

The Government has passed on official guidance for the UK's mourning period following the death of Queen Elizabeth II which may have a knock-on effect on travel, events and businesses.

The State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be preceded by a period of Lying-in-State. Dates and further details of these events will be announced by the Royal Household in due course.

A period of National Mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has now officially started. The period of National Mourning will continue until the end of the day of the State Funeral. The Royal Family will then undertake a separate period of Royal Mourning, dependent on the wishes of The King.

Buckingham Palace released official guidance called ‘The demise of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’ to help people understand the behaviour and etiquette expected of the public, businesses and public organisations during the mourning period.

National Mourning is a period of time for reflection in response to the demise of the Sovereign, or other member of the Royal Family or a very prominent person in national life.

This guide is intended to provide the public, businesses and institutions with an explanation of National Mourning, and outline some practical advice on how you or your organisation may wish to observe public mourning during this period.

It covers, among other matters:

  • half-masting of flags

  • how observing mourning can affect the continuation of business, events and sporting fixtures

  • floral tributes

  • books of condolence

Nevertheless, mourning is very personal and we anticipate individuals, families, communities and organisations may want to mark Her Majesty’s demise in their own way. There is no expectation on the public or organisations to observe specific behaviours during the mourning period.

Public services will continue as usual, although there may be some changes to service availability on the day of the State Funeral.

As well as the UK government, the devolved administrations, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories will be observing National Mourning and will issue separate guidance.


Flags flying from Royal residences, government buildings and military establishments have been half-masted following the demise of Her Majesty.

Businesses or other organisations wishing to pay their respects by half-masting flags or holding silences can follow the guidance that has been issued on GOV.UK.

Business and public services

There is no obligation on organisations to suspend business during the National Mourning period. Depending on the nature and location of their business and the tone of planned events, some businesses may wish to consider closing or postponing events, especially on the day of the State Funeral, however this is at the discretion of individual businesses. Public services will continue as usual, although there may be some changes to service availability. Further guidance on any potential considerations relating to the day of the State Funeral will be issued if needed.

Travel information

Throughout the period of National Mourning, particularly on days with ceremonial events and in the build up to 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 journey before you travel to ensure all services are running as expected.

Commemorative events

Many community organisations, including places of worship, Local Authorities and charities, will arrange events commemorating the life and service of Her Majesty. This may include holding services of reflection (or similar), 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 further details.

Major events, entertainment and sports

There is no obligation to cancel or postpone events and sporting fixtures, or close entertainment venues during the National Mourning period. This is at the discretion of individual organisations. As a mark of respect, organisations might wish to consider cancelling or postponing events or closing venues on the day of the State Funeral. They are under no obligation to do so and this is entirely at the discretion of individual organisations.

If sporting fixtures or events are planned for the day of the State Funeral, organisations may want to adjust the event timings so they do not clash with the timings of the funeral service and associated processions. 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.

Floral tributes

It is customary for mourners to leave floral tributes. This section outlines the details of key locations where you can lay flowers and other tributes.

During this time of National Mourning, the government and the Royal Household respectfully request that no official flowers, wreaths, or tributes be sent from organisations to the location of the State Funeral, Royal Residences or government offices.

Within 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 authority, or local media for further information.

Books of Condolence

There are no physical books of condolence at Royal Residences. You can sign an online Book of Condolence on the Royal family website.

There will be opportunities to sign books of condolence at various town halls and other locations throughout the UK. Please check with your Local Authority.

Opening your own Book of Condolence

Any organisation or person may open a book of condolence during the period of National Mourning.

There is no set format for a book of condolence. The layout of the table 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. This could be an official portrait photograph, or one taken at a previous Royal visit. As a mark of respect, a black ribbon could be wrapped around the top right hand corner.

Please note the Royal Household and the government will not be able to receive books of condolence.

Websites and social media

Online communication channels can also be used to reflect the demise of Her Majesty and participate in the period of National Mourning. Organisations can acknowledge the mourning period by making changes to the homepage of their website, for example, with the use of black edging or black banners.

Organisations and individuals may also wish to share their memories of Her Majesty online. There is no set way to mark the passing of Her Majesty on social media. Organisations may wish to review their planned content for the period.

Any changes to websites or social media pages should take into consideration accessibility requirements for visually impaired users.

Photographs and official portraits of Her Majesty

It is not necessary to cover or remove existing official portraits or photographs in your organisation of Her Majesty as a mark of respect. It is the custom to leave these in place, at the discretion of the organisation. 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 venues are not obliged to close during the National Mourning period. Organisations may choose to close on the day of the State Funeral, however there is no obligation to do so and this is at the discretion of individual organisations. 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.


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