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JANET STREET-PORTER: The royals don’t want Britain to shut down for the Queen


Next Monday, the eyes of the world will be focused on the Queen’s funeral. This historic event celebrating the dedicated life of our longest-serving Monarch will be watched by millions. Meanwhile, the UK will grind to a halt.

If you need to see a doctor, grab a pint or a sandwich- forget it.

If you promised the kids a ride at the fun fair- no chance.

Need shopping? Go hungry, like the people who rely on food banks.

Thought you could collect your state benefits? Sorry, post offices will be shut.

Shops and schools will be closed, trains will be cancelled. The sick won’t be able to see a GP and weddings and funerals must be rescheduled. Long-planned operations will not take place, so the NHS waiting lists will grow even longer.

Heathrow airport is even cancelling flights during the funeral, so the noise will not be a distraction. I hope you won’t be grounded.

If you’d planned a movie, a visit to the theatre, or a holiday break at Center Parcs? Forget it. Not possible.

The Palace has let it be known this is not their wish - that they hoped the funeral could be held with minimal disruption to others. But when the government decided to make Monday a bank holiday the result is a national shutdown in the name of showing ‘respect’

The Palace has let it be known this is not their wish – that they hoped the funeral could be held with minimal disruption to others. But when the government decided to make Monday a bank holiday the result is a national shutdown in the name of showing ‘respect’

Estate agents have been covering up for sale boards with black cloths, the royal coat of arms and more unusual ways of remembering the Queen

Estate agents have been covering up for sale boards with black cloths, the royal coat of arms and more unusual ways of remembering the Queen 

Supermarkets, restaurants and shops have been falling over themselves to announce they will be closed on Monday, as will much-needed food banks and post offices.

We have been told over and over again that every closure and inconvenience is happening ‘out of respect’ to the late Queen.

The Palace has let it be known this is not their wish – that they hoped the funeral could be held with minimal disruption to others. But when the government decided to make Monday a bank holiday the result is a national shutdown in the name of showing ‘respect’.

As he mourns his darling Mama, King Charles didn’t ask us to stop cycling, to only issue one weather bulletin a day, switch off the music in supermarkets and silence the tills.

The news of the Queen’s death last Thursday shocked us all, even though this remarkable 96-year-old had seemed frailer in recent months. We just weren’t prepared for the inevitable.

And then, after the official announcement, things started to go a little bit weird as big business, local councils, celebrities and pop stars all rushed to make sure the world knew how much they were grieving. Showing ‘respect’ in their own ostentatious way.

The Met Office immediately announced we would only expect one weather bulletin or warning a day ‘as a mark of respect’.

I bet (like me) you are secretly pleased not to be bombarded with amber weather warnings, hourly reports of mist and murk issued by a parade of women in cocktail frocks with double-jointed wiggly fingers, ordering us to ‘take care’ and not forget to pack our raincoats.

All McDonalds restaurants will be closed on the day of the Queen's funeral, along with several other chains

All McDonalds restaurants will be closed on the day of the Queen’s funeral, along with several other chains 

Supermarkets, restaurants and shops have been falling over themselves to announce they will be closed on Monday, as will much-needed food banks and post offices

Supermarkets, restaurants and shops have been falling over themselves to announce they will be closed on Monday, as will much-needed food banks and post offices

The day after the Queen’s death was announced, I was shopping in Morrisons and thought I was having problems with my hearing. The shop floor was eerily silent. No braying messages on the tannoy. No annoying jingles about super-deals. No bleeps from the till. Staff talking in whispers and even the customers were lowering their voices.

I went home confused and discovered that someone at Morrisons HQ had ruled that normal supermarket noise was disrespectful at such a sensitive time. It must be silenced ‘to show respect’.

Later, the store claimed there had been ‘miscommunication’ and the edict had simply been to ‘turn down’ the noise of the tills.

Even so, is this the best way to honour a beloved monarch?

Have the bosses of Britain PLC lost their sense of proportion?

At Center Parcs, bosses announced that they would close down completely for 24 hours from 10am on funeral day ‘as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic event’. Meaning that all residents and holidaymakers would have to pack up and leave.

There was a huge outcry from families whose holidays (already paid for) would have been disrupted. Where were they supposed to go? Center Parcs relented and graciously said the villages would remain open for guests, adding facilities would be still be closed and anyone affected would receive a discount.

Mourning madness takes many forms: you may be surprised to know that cycling on the same day as the funeral is considered inappropriate after British Cycling issued a ‘strong recommendation’ that people did not cycle during the royal funeral.

After being widely mocked, they slightly revised their advice, condemning club rides, coaching sessions and community events.

All this is routinely justified with the tag ‘it’s what she would have wanted’.

I am quite sure the Queen would have wanted people to remember her in their own individual way. To have a quiet moment or two, but to get out and enjoy themselves. Not to be inconvenienced in their daily routines by her departure from this world.

Sadly, an army of pompous prats are making that virtually impossible.

In the days following the news of the Queen’s death, businesses rushed to let us know how much they cared about the late Queen. From Marks and Spencer to P&O Ferries and even the makers of sex toys like Ann Summers, no one wanted to be left out in this display of conspicuous mourning. Estate agents have been covering up for sale boards with black cloths or the royal coat of arms.

Cynics might say it’s a good way to link your brand with reliability, long service and dedication.

Even Transport for London decided to ban buskers during the period of mourning, conveniently forgetting that the musicians need to play to earn a living. It’s as if anything remotely fun or lighthearted must be swept away and replaced with grim austerity until the Queen’s burial is completed and she’s lying in the family vault in Windsor.

Kite festivals and Guinea Pig Awareness Week have been culled ‘out of respect’. Funfairs are closed, and cinemas will not be screening block busters in case they send the wrong message.

At least the Vue Cinema in London is staying open on Monday- you can watch the funeral on the big screen for free, and get a bottle of water thrown in. God forbid free popcorn or a packet of Maltesers is included- that could be seen as ‘disrespectful’.



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