Britain is in the midst of a period of national mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The day of the Queen’s state funeral, Monday 19 September, has been declared a public holiday and schools and offices will be closed.
Mourners in London have queued for more than four miles to see the Queen lie in state at Westminster Hall. Across the country, events including concerts, sporting events and strikes have been canceled and rolling news coverage and programs about the Queen have dominated radio and television programmes.
Civil liberties have criticized the police response to the arrests of anti-monarchy protesters.
Here, Guardian readers share their views on the period of national mourning and reveal how they have been personally affected.
‘We cannot force the country to stand still’
Shekinah Opara, 23, works in legal services and finds it “understandable” that the Queen’s death should receive “such a significant national response steeped in tradition”.
“However, we cannot force the country to stand still. The notion that the country is united in gratitude, admiration and grief is simply false. For me, the Queen’s death offered a glimmer of hope that Britain’s delusions of national identity – which are linked to antiquated institutions such as empire and monarchy – can finally be tackled and laid to rest.”
Opara says she has been less engaged with the news and was upset to see soccer matches cancelled.
“I appreciated Afua Hirsch’s article on the Queen’s death, which is the first I’ve seen that reflects how I’ve always felt about the monarchy.
“I am concerned about how dissenting voices will be treated, although the arrests we are seeing are really not surprising.”
‘Cancelling events does not honor the Queen’s memory’
Andrew Grieve, a London-based father of two, wants the cancellation of events to stop. “If you want to honor the Queen’s memory, fine, do something. Don’t just cancel things.”
He disagrees with the FA’s decision to cancel all football matches last weekend – including children’s grassroots matches. “How does that stop children running around on a Saturday morning respecting the Queen’s memory? It doesn’t. It’s pointless.”
He is concerned that small businesses will be affected by event cancellations. “Businesses have had it hard enough during the pandemic,” he said.
“I am furious that MPs are not returning to work”
Frances, 69, was surprised by some of the emotions the Queen’s death gave her. “I’m anti-monarchist but felt a sense of loss.”
Still, she thinks that a 10-day period of public mourning is too long. “I don’t think the TV channels should constantly be about the Queen.”
She is “absolutely furious” that politicians are not returning to work until after the funeral, especially as Parliament adjourns two days later for the party conference season. “They’re going to be in recess all but one day, at a time when the country is in a desperate crisis. I think that’s unspeakable. And I think the Conservative Party is milking the period of national mourning for everything they can get out of it.”
‘The arrest of protesters is disturbing’
Rosie Weir, 28, from Belfast, is a lifelong republican who works for a royal charity. “I was very surprised at how sad I was on Thursday. I think my sadness came from my personal experience of seeing the good the Royal Family has inspired every day.”
She believes that those who want to grieve should be allowed to do so and finds the mood of national mourning “completely understandable”.
“However, the news of people being arrested for holding up signs protesting the monarchy is extremely disturbing. We have a history and culture of peaceful protest in this country, and that is something a democratic nation should be proud of.”
‘We need a bit of fairytale glitz and party games’
Diana Luther Powell, a 75-year-old Quaker prison chaplain from Barnsley, believes a 10-day mourning period is necessary.
“The period of national mourning is to be expected, though it must seem a mystery to those from places without a monarchy – a return to earlier reverent times when men touched their caps and children were well-behaved.”
This is illusory, she said, adding that perhaps “a bit of fairy-tale glitz and pageantry” was needed right now. “Life will feel very bleak afterwards. It felt like she would always be there, like the queens in history books. Even though we knew she wouldn’t be.”
‘It’s over the top’
Iain, a 38-year-old IT professional from London, finds the period of national mourning “really over the top”.
Most annoying, he said, are all the public statements claiming that everyone is in mourning. “That is not true. I understand that many people are, and that the Queen was popular with many. But the fact that divergence or indifference is not tolerated, let alone acknowledged, I find disrespectful.”
In the news, he was surprised to hear the Queen described as someone who went about her business “without difficulty” and pointed out that she wore “a literal crown” and traveled in a golden chariot with footmen and trumpets playing.
‘Greatness is hard to bear at a time when the country is tumbling’
Maithreyi, a writer and interpreter from Bristol, felt “very sad” at the Queen’s passing.
“It lasted about a day and a bit. Now I’m quite tired of this fetishization of the medieval concert and this exaggerated approach.”
The last few days, she says, have “made it clear that I’m not a royalist”, although she thinks her late father, “a devoted royalist”, would have loved “this big funeral”.
“I held the Queen in high esteem – her dedication to her duty at her age was admirable. The monarchy represents very little to me and I am quite surprised to see how keen people seem to be to see it continue in all its pomp and anachronism practice.
“I would love to see a downsizing of the royal family and a redistribution of their land and wealth – it’s hard to hear the king handing out large amounts to his own son when the whole country is under so much financial pressure.”
‘Protesters and Republicans show lack of decency’
Colin Wood, a retired teacher from New Zealand, believes it is “absolutely right and proper to pay respect to a wonderful monarch who served our country and the Commonwealth so long and so well”.
He believes the Queen’s death has exposed the “evil side” of many people.
“I am appalled at the lack of humanity and common decency shown by protesters and republicans in raising their issues before the Queen has even been laid to rest.”
‘My children will miss another day of school’
David Watkins, a 54-year-old from Porthcawl, is “bored senseless” by the coverage and annoyed that his children – who he says have missed enough school because of the pandemic – will miss another day because of the holiday. His partner will also lose a day’s wages, he said.
“The views of people who do not support the monarchy are completely ignored. In fact, many people in positions of authority probably pretend to support the whole show for fear of damaging their standing in society if they dare to object.
“My children are not the least bit interested in the Queen, and are if anything upset that the associated public holiday did not coincide with a double maths day.”