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UK is in ‘national mourning’ for Prince Philip – what does that mean?

Press Association
·3-min read

Watch: 'We've lost a great man' - UK mourns Prince Philip

The UK is in a period of national mourning following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. It officially began on Friday, when Philip died, and will last up to and including his funeral on Saturday 17 April.

What does this mean?

The Queen has approved a recommendation by Boris Johnson for a period of national mourning.

It means union flags will be flown at half-mast on royal residences, government buildings, armed forces establishments and at UK posts overseas for the next week. Union flags at royal residences and on government buildings were lowered to half-mast on Friday and will stay at half-mast until 8am on the day after the funeral.

Public services and any services related to the government response to the pandemic will continue as normal and people will be able to access information and services online as necessary, guidance issued by the Cabinet Office states.

How long will political campaigning be suspended?

There will be no No 10 press conferences and announcements will be strictly limited to urgent Covid business – with no appearances on broadcast media from frontbench politicians in government or from Labour until after the funeral. MPs have been instructed by the Conservatives and Labour to steer clear of proactive media appearances.

Some local campaigning will resume from Tuesday ahead of the 6 May elections after parliament convenes on Monday to pay tribute to the duke. Mayoral campaigning is also expected to restart on Tuesday and local politicians will have freer rein from their parties to speak on local issues.

Will businesses have to close?

No. The guidance says there is “no expectation for businesses to close during the mourning period unless they wish to”. It says it is a decision for individual organisations.

Many businesses in England such as non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality are due to reopen on Monday, having been closed for months in the third national lockdown. The guidance states that businesses might want to make arrangements for observing the national one-minute silence at 3pm on the day of Philip’s funeral.

Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty
Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty

Will sporting events take place during this period?

This is also something which is at the discretion of organisers, the guidance states. It suggests that organisers of sporting fixtures might want to consider using black armbands and observing a silence before matches are played.

Some sporting bodies are in discussions regarding plans for Saturday’s fixtures to avoid a clash with the funeral. The Football League has announced that matches scheduled to begin at 3pm will be rearranged, as will Premiership rugby fixtures.

The Football Association, Premier League and the England and Wales Cricket Board are reportedly all in dialogue with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport regarding arrangements while the Women’s Six Nations is awaiting guidance. The British Horseracing Authority will also hold discussions regarding its own plans.

Can I lay flowers in tribute to Philip?

While floral tributes would normally be an expression of sorrow and appreciation on the death of a major figure such as the duke, people are being asked not to lay flowers, candles or messages in public spaces or at royal residences to comply with coronavirus restrictions limiting gatherings, and to prevent the spread of infection.

What can I do instead?

It is suggested people could consider making a donation to a charitable organisation with which Philip had been associated. The guidance states that would be a “fitting way of paying tribute to his remarkable legacy”.

A list of such organisations are on the royal family’s official website, where there also an online book of condolence. There are no physical books of condolence available in public buildings – because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Will the royal family still carry out public engagements?

The royals will observe two weeks of what is known as royal mourning, starting from Friday when Philip died. Engagements will continue appropriate to the circumstances, a senior royal official said.

Watch: What happens next following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh?