With the nation in official mourning until the Queen’s funeral on Monday, it was always inevitable that some people, businesses and organisations would perhaps go a bit too far in their attempts to show respect to the memory of Queen Elizabeth II. Here are some of the people who have faced a backlash for their over-zealous efforts.
Center Parcs tries to evict guests out of respect
The single greatest PR disaster of the mourning period surely belongs to Center Parcs. The company initially said guests in the middle of their holiday would have to spend the night of the funeral elsewhere or go home early as it was shutting down on that day. It was accused of ruining people’s holidays. One response that went viral on social media said: “Good luck removing guests from the parks. You’ve trained them in archery, shooting, swimming, canoeing and swinging through trees like apes. You’ve basically got five village-loads of ninjas to clear out.” The company eventually reversed the decision.
British Cycling says don’t cycle
Also making a U-turn, which is quite difficult on two wheels, was British Cycling. The governing body for the sport initially issued advice that nobody should use their bicycles on the day of the Queen’s funeral out of respect. After howls of protest, it has softened its stance on whether people should use their bikes at all, but is still insisting that on Monday’s bank holiday people should refrain from “cycle sport events, club rides, coaching sessions and community programmes.”
Norwich city council says don’t park your bike
Cyclists were also mystified in Norwich when a sign went up saying “Advance warning. Royal period of mourning. This cycle rack will be closed from Friday 9 September until Wednesday 23 September” – with no other context. A spokesperson from the council later said it was because the rack was near the location where floral tributes were being left, and the sign was changed to specify that, still without really explaining why it would be disrespectful to park bikes near the flowers.
Heathrow alters flight patterns
When people said the ceremonial aspects of national mourning were meticulously planned, that even went down to diverting flights. Those expecting to land or take off at Heathrow airport between 1.50pm and 3.40pm on Wednesday found themselves in alternative arrangements, as the west London airport adjusted its schedule “out of respect” and to ensure silent skies over the Queen’s coffin procession. The same is expected to happen on Monday for the funeral.
No car-free day in Hammersmith
Also getting itself into a PR twist over transport arrangements was Hammersmith and Fulham council in west London, which announced that after the death of the monarch it was cancelling a “car-free day” in the borough. Critics joked that people zooming down the high street in their SUVs would be exactly what the Queen would have wanted. The council had originally advertised the event as featuring a market for “local creators and craftsmanship”, live music, free face-painting and circus workshops for kids.
Morrisons turns down the beeps
The supermarket chain came under fire amid social media reports that it had turned off the automated beeps at its self-service checkout. A spokesperson denied that was the case, explaining that they had only been turned down, as “our music and Tannoy announcements have been switched off in stores”.
A guard of honour of tractors
When the Queen’s funeral cortege first started its journey from Balmoral to Edinburgh on Sunday, at one point it was greeted by a guard of honour of tractors. Looking for all the world like the kind of thing you see during the helicopter shots of the Tour de France. Robbie Moore, the Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley in West Yorkshire, described it as “very moving” and an “incredible illustration of pure respect”.
Dan Wootton and his public flower-laying
The GB News presenter Dan Wootton, who in the past criticised Harry and Meghan for being photographed visiting a war memorial on Remembrance Sunday in 2020, posted an elaborate video of himself placing flowers at Buckingham Palace in what he said was a moment of “some quiet reflection”. Described by the broadcaster India Willoughby as “one of the Woke-Finder Generals of Britain’s far-right media”, Wootton’s self-publicity video was even more widely shared after someone reversed it and re-uploaded it, so that it appeared as if he was stealthily stealing flowers from tributes left by the public.
Keeping the weather a secret
In a badly worded tweet, the Met Office told its followers: “As a mark of respect during this time of national mourning we will only be posting daily forecasts and warnings.” What it meant was that it wouldn’t be providing other lighthearted content during the period, just the weather service. However, followers interpreted it to mean that the public would only be informed of the weather one day at a time. Quite why it felt the need to tell everybody its social media content strategy remains a mystery.
But there was always the internet as a respite from wall-to-wall mourning
If some businesses and organisations in the UK were a bit too keen on showing how much they were mourning, those outside the UK have felt no such compulsion, especially satirical websites in the US. Within hours of the death of the Queen, Clickhole had published the latest of its articles purporting to be badly typed into a computer by the late monarch, I Maybe Be Died, But My LEgacty Will Live On Insode Computetr, while the Onion ran a hasty obituary with rude and funny placeholder text that reflected genuine criticism of the monarchy and the royal family, and a sideways glance at the way the media works in these circumstances. It was titled [NOTE: Do Not Run Until Fucking Queen Is Dead Or People Will Lose Their Shit] Queen Elizabeth Dead at 96.