Events on day of the State Funeral

Following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II, a number of claims were circulating on social media that funerals, burials and cremations would not be allowed to take place on the day of the Queen’s State Funeral, Monday 19 September. On these we concur with a post of Full Fact which concluded:

“There is no formal requirement for funerals, burials or cremations to be cancelled on the day of the Queen’s funeral, though some services are being cancelled at the request of individual families. Others may also be postponed due to the decision of the cemetery or crematorium operator to close”.

Evidence on the latter was reported in an article in the Daily Telegraph which said “funerals are being cancelled at the last minute, and grieving families have indicated that funerals which had been planned for Monday were suddenly cancelled because of the bank holiday”. On 15 September 2022, the Daily Mail reported that “a royal source” had indicated that whilst it was appreciated that people wished to commemorate the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth appropriately and respectfully, it is up to individual organizations 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”.

The advice included in the following summary confirms the absence of formal restrictions on religious and secular events up to and including Monday 19 September, although this is couched in terms which emphasize the sensitivities involved.


Cabinet Office

On 9 September 2022, the Cabinet Office issued Guidance for the public and businesses on the period of National Mourning following the demise of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II . For Commemorative Events is advised:

“Many community organizations, 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.”

For Major Events, Entertainment and Sport, it advised:

“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 organizations. As a mark of respect, organizations 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 organizations.

If sporting fixtures or events are planned for the day of the State Funeral, organizations 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, organizers 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.”


Church of England

On 8 September 2022, the Archbishops issued Guidance for parish churches following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This gives day-by-day advice from the formal announcement of the death of the Queen (D-Day, Friday 9th September) until the day after the State Funeral. On the Day of the State Funeral (D+10). In relation to Prayer and Worship it states:

“Weddings, funerals and baptisms may continue as planned through the national period of mourning. Clergy should check with those planning these events whether they wish them to take place during this time. Particular sensitivity should be taken when reviewing those which are planned to take place on the day of the funeral.”


Full Fact

In response to viral claims about funerals being cancelled, the Full Fact post Other funerals have not been banned on day of the Queen’s funeral included links to Tweets by the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and comments from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM). The a spokesperson from the ICCM  told Full Fact that they advised decisions should be “driven by the wishes of families”. They added: “However, each cemetery and crematorium operator can make their own decision about whether they will be remaining open or closing on the day of the State Funeral. Some are remaining open, and some are closing.”

The ICCM subsequently said they understood some funerals had been postponed as a result of cemetery or crematorium operators taking the decision to close, but that the majority of funerals would go ahead as planned.


Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Events on day of the State Funeral" in Law & Religion UK, 15 September 2022, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2022/09/15/events-on-day-of-the-state-funeral/

 

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