The Daily Telegraph
Palace does not want disruption to services
Sources distance Royal family from government decision to declare Monday a bank holiday
The Royal family want “minimum disruption” to the nation on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’S funeral, The Daily Telegraph has learnt, after it emerged that NHS appointments have been cancelled and GPS are to close for the bank holiday. Neither the King nor the late Queen had asked for public events, services or transport to be shut down, palace sources said. There is growing criticism over cancellations of services on Monday, after the Government declared it a bank holiday.
‘There have been no instructions from the Royal household for events, services or transport to be cancelled’
THE Royal family want “minimum disruption” to the nation on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’S funeral, The Daily Telegraph has learnt, after it emerged that NHS appointments have been cancelled and GPS are to close for the bank holiday.
Neither the King nor the late Queen had asked for public events, services or transport to be shut down for the day of her funeral, palace sources said.
There is growing criticism over the decision to cancel hospital appointments, close foodbanks and postpone family funerals on Monday, after the Government declared it a bank holiday.
A palace source said: “While we appreciate people wanting to commemorate the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth appropriately and respectfully, it is up to individual organisations to decide how they do that, balancing it with the need to cause minimum disruption to others.
“There have been no blanket instructions from the Royal household for cancellations of events, services or transport links.”
Suggesting there had been particular concern over reports of NHS hospital appointments being postponed, another source added: “None of this is at the request of the Palace.”
Buckingham Palace has always emphasised that the decision to make the day of the late Queen’s funeral a bank holiday was one for government.
But it is now facing growing criticism after businesses and public bodies cancelled an array of services, citing “mourning” as the reason.
While there is no requirement for shops, restaurants, entertainment venues or holiday resorts to shut their doors on the day of the funeral, many have chosen to do so.
Guidance from NHS England has instructed hospitals to contact patients to let them know if appointments have been postponed, with GPS and pharmacies told they can close their doors.
Thousands of appointments scheduled for Monday, including those on cancer, cardiology and maternity units, are reported to have been cancelled.
NHS managers are said to believe they have no option but to cancel some clinics, with staff needing to look after their children who will be off school, and fears over transport chaos.
Some private funerals have been postponed, despite the National Association of Funeral Directors confirming there is no blanket policy for the bank holiday.
Schools and nurseries are to close on Monday, with social media ablaze with criticism over cancellations from the serious – as foodbanks run by volunteers choose to close their doors – to the comical, including the postponement of “Guinea Pig Awareness Week”.
Transport for London has been accused of being “miserable” and “mean” over a decision to ban busking on the day of the funeral, with the public left baffled after the Met Office’s social media announced it would only be posting daily forecasts as “a mark of respect”.
Center Parcs has already reversed a
‘We appreciate people wanting to pay their respects … but none of this is at the request of the Palace’
decision to ask guests to leave for the day on Monday after public backlash.
The government guidance, issued last week, states: “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.”
It adds: “The bank holiday will be a unique national moment, and we would encourage employers to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take time off.”
The bank holiday was intended to mark the final day of national mourning for the death of Queen Elizabeth, allowing children and workers to take the time to watch her funeral and commemorate her memory.
Britain, it turns out, does not want a Scandinavian-style, cut-price, pseudo-democratic monarchy. We aren’t interested in a pared-down Royal family living in a council flat, a minimalist institution stripped of tradition, of symbolism, of spectacle. Our hereditary monarchy, in its anti-rationalistic glory, with its palaces, gun salutes, curtseys, and rituals and proclamations, is our connection to our history, proof that Englishness, Scottishness and Britishness are real, that our nation is a continuation of an ever-evolving polity founded 11 centuries ago – not merely a modern imagined community hastily constructed on fashionable principles.
The rest of the world has long realised how lucky we are; finally, so have we. The queue to witness the late Queen lying in state will be 10 miles long; billions will tune in worldwide to watch the funeral. George Orwell was right, of course, when he argued that the “most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history”. He explained how totalitarian states erase the past, destroying records, censoring and rewriting books, renaming streets and of course tearing down statues to ensure that “nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right”.
To the wonderful surprise of many conservative pessimists, the vast majority of the public, including the young and the children and grandchildren of immigrants, understand this. The present moment will bring about a cultural renaissance, a renewed bond with the past that will refresh Britain’s collective memory, bind us more closely together, involve new arrivals, and strengthen our wonderful freedoms. Televising the proclamation was an act of genius: television and images don’t destroy the magic, they help magnify it. We can all pledge allegiance to the King, and we can all belong to an ancient country that is at once liberal and conservative.
The past few days have been stunningly reassuring: there was no national breakdown, just great sadness. There was no upsurge in republicanism, no animosity towards King Charles, who has been embraced in a most extraordinary manner. There has been no mockery directed towards the pageantry, customs, the deep Christianity of the ceremonies, the essential unionism or the role of the military. We mourn the passing of our beloved Queen, while transferring our allegiance to our King as the next stage of our history begins. The automaticity of the handover is a triumph.
Yet while the Royals, the military and even the politicians have behaved impeccably, brilliantly planning and executing the complex ceremonies, the only sour note has been sounded by petty officialdom. There has been a sense, in parts of the Whitehall bureaucracy, among the work-fromhome Civil Service fraternity, that the public’s enthusiastic interest in paying their respects to the Queen is a problem to be minimised. Rather than seeing a record-breaking turnout as a triumph, a marvellous, unifying, national occasion, they seek to discourage it. There has been too much risk-aversion, too much nervous box-ticking, too little understanding of the quasi-metaphysical significance of the moment, of the desperate need to allow as many people as possible to take part in saying goodbye to the Queen.
For a start, the late Queen should have travelled to London by Royal train, to allow hundreds of thousands more to get a glimpse of her coffin. Once again, the models used by planners have turned out to be absurdly wrong, misunderstanding the mood of the nation, scandalously underplaying the love and affection in which Elizabeth II was held, underestimating the interest in all parts of the proceedings. A few hundred thousand people will be able to walk past the Queen in Westminster Hall, while millions would have liked to be involved.
In advance of the funeral, the warnings from officialdom have been deafening: London is already full; there is a security risk; the trains will be jammed. Foreign dignitaries must take commercial flights, rather than private jets, not for environmental reasons but because airports are at full capacity. Why not allow 24-hour arrivals, just for this special occasion? Why not massively increase the number of trains? Why can’t the Civil Service, just for once, pull out all the stops? Why can’t volunteers be asked to host people in their homes, as the Scots did during Cop26? Why not draft in every resource, make every effort? Lessons must be learnt for the Coronation.
We’ve seen some of this miserabilist, can’t-do attitude contaminate other parts of society, with the funeral used as the latest sanctimonious excuse for laziness. Why is the NHS, which already operates a drastically reduced service every weekend, cancelling appointments?
By contrast, with a few silly exceptions such as Center Parcs, the private sector understands the unique nature of the moment. There are memorial tributes in shop entrances, on thousands of commercial websites and advertising billboards. Despite Britain’s need for more graft, it was right to declare Monday a public holiday.
Even big supermarkets, such as those operated by Tesco and Sainsbury’s, are shutting, allowing hundreds of thousands of staff to commemorate the funeral properly. It is often claimed that the likes of Aldi, Primark or Mcdonald’s, overseas owned giants, are “anywheres”, rootless corporations, but this isn’t true. They understand the national context. It is also right that pubs are staying open, allowing communities to come together.
Miraculously, the monarchy has survived the cultural and social earthquakes of the 20th century. Many assumed that the aristocracy’s decline – the abolition of the power of the House of Lords to veto legislation in 1911, the ending of the presentation of debutantes at Court, the rise of life peerages (with no new non-royal hereditary peerages conferred since 1984), and Tony Blair’s removal of all but 92 hereditaries from the Upper House – would cripple the monarchy.
They expected secularisation, the end of empire, immigration, cultural egalitarianism, demilitarisation and the changing shape of the family to delegitimise the hereditary principle. They were wrong. The monarchy is stronger than ever, a bulwark against tyranny, revolution, communism and wokeism. Thank God for the British public. It deserves to be given a proper opportunity to see out its late Queen.
We’ve seen this can’t-do attitude contaminate other parts of society, with the funeral used as the latest excuse for laziness