The gates of Buckingham Palace and other royal sites are filled with floral tributes from a devastated public.
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As these scenes unfold on social media and on television – where BBC presenters wear black – life goes on as normal in many parts of the country.
“It’s sad and all, but stop everything? It’s a luxury,” said Al Mohamed, a street cleaner in north London, looking at a stream of broken beer bottles on the pavement. “I can’t judge people having fun or paying homage to it. But someone has to clean it up.
The British government released advice on Friday, as news of the Queen’s death broke, on the best way for businesses and public services to pay tribute to her.
“National mourning is a period of reflection in response to the demise of the sovereign,” it read. “Nevertheless, bereavement is very personal and we anticipate that individuals, families, communities and organizations will want to mark Her Majesty’s passing in their own way.”
In this vein, Fortnum & Mason has stopped its clock. The Premier League is cancelled. A planned labor strike was called off.
But for the most part pubs and restaurants are still open – a necessity as UK businesses face a growing cost of living crisis. For some businesses, the darkness during the mourning period could be the difference between survival and closure.
In a letter to the government last month, the British Beer and Pub Association had already said massive job losses were inevitable without help for an industry that employs 940,000 people. “With the pandemic, it’s already been a tough time,” said Dev Maritz, 39, from behind the bar at the red-and-white-tiled Thornhill Arms. “I don’t think the owner thought about closing.”
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Bar staff at several pubs said the cancellation of Premier League football matches had affected attendance, but in many cases new customers had also joined bar regulars to raise a drink to the late Queen .
“I think people also wanted to come celebrate together,” Maritz said. “We have to keep going, we have to keep making money, but while we celebrate his life.”
In some cases, the decision to cancel events like football or the annual Proms concert has drawn criticism precisely because they are closing a pathway to community remembrance.
“In many cases, it was not the monarchy or its government that canceled these things. The BBC, the Premier League and other companies and organizations have made the decision,” the News Statesman reported. “Maybe it’s because they think it’s right; sometimes, however, it is surely because they are afraid of the consequences of not cancelation.
The media is another space in which observance of the mourning period has sparked unease, as regular news coverage and television programming has been overshadowed by wall-to-wall updates on King Charles’ accession. III.
Stories of the war in Ukraine reaching a critical new stage, or of floodwaters leaving a third of Pakistan’s habitable land under water, are far from the headlines.
The BBC and ITV have canceled some of their flagship shows in favor of news and analysis on the royal transition. Apple News’ algorithm generates a solid feed of stories about what’s next.
Perusing the newspapers from his local supermarket, Pat Simmons, a former postman, was in disbelief. “Nothing else is going on, huh?” he called to the cashier with a wry smile. “It’s like we’ve been taken out of the world for a few days.”
For the state broadcaster, the Queen’s death has left news executives with a delicate balancing act. “It must act as a national broadcaster and commemorate the Queen, while ensuring that it does not overwhelm the public to the point that it shuts down completely,” media reporter Jim Waterson wrote this week in the Guardian.
When Princess Diana died in a high-speed car crash 25 years ago, most TV channels also pivoted quickly to keep up with the coverage. But today’s British media landscape has changed a lot. “Back then, there were only a handful of TV channels and it was easy to impose the same vibe all over the country. Now, with endless streaming options and catch-up services, there is easy for viewers to access Netflix or TikTok if they tire of TV news updates,” Waterson wrote.
When the Queen’s husband Prince Philip died last year, the BBC had to scrap an online form for reader feedback, after wall-to-wall coverage again replaced regular programming, leading to a wave of complaints.
The adulation surrounding the Queen’s legacy has also sparked unease among Britons who fear the fanfare will drown out any collective reflection on how the nation’s colonial history has shaped the world.
“To bombard us with hours of repetitive content that transcends the colonial legacy of Queen Elizabeth’s reign is counterproductive and unnecessary,” an online and print magazine said. gal-dem wrote on his Twitter account.
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In the days following the Queen’s death, activists and politicians in former Caribbean colonies have renewed calls to remove the monarch from their head of state and for Britain to pay slavery reparations . On Sunday, the hashtag #notmyking was trending on Twitter.
“Respect, decorum and questioning are not mutually exclusive,” columnist Kenan Malik wrote in the Observer newspaper. “Interrogation is not an expression of being anti-British. There is more than one way of wanting the best for this country.”
Annabelle Timsit contributed to it.