Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen yesterday, it is His Majesty The King’s wish that a period of Royal Mourning be observed from now until seven days after The Queen’s Funeral.
Our thoughts are with the Royal Family at this difficult time.
National Mourning is a period of time for reflection in response to the demise of the Sovereign, or other member of the Royal Family, or very prominent person in national life. The date of the Funeral will be confirmed in due course.
If you are looking for advice and guidance to help you communicate, we encourage you to please refer to these official resources:
- Royal Family website: announcement of the death of The Queen
- The Demise of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: National Mourning Guidance.
- Statement from The King following the death of The Queen
- Arrangements following the Queen’s death – Gov.uk website
- Mourning and Condolences timeline
- Online book of condolences.
12 September update: The funeral will be held on Monday 19 September 2022, which is a Bank Holiday. Further reading: Guide to attending ceremonial events for the Lying-in-State and State Funeral.
How to communicate the Queen’s death
This is the blog post I knew was inevitable and I’ve advised various organisations over the years as they’ve created plans for this sad event. I encourage you to look after each other and particularly to support your fellow IC pros who are working independently.
In further proof of our amazing Comms community, IC pro Keith Riley has created a crowdsourced document which is available for all to access. It will help you consider your internal communication. Thank you Keith.
There are also various closed communities online, including Guild groups and LinkedIn groups, where IC pros are supporting each other.
What will businesses do?
There is no obligation on organisations to suspend business during the National Mourning period.
Depending on the nature and location of their business and the tone of planned events, some businesses may wish to consider closing or postponing events, especially on the day of the State Funeral, however this is at the discretion of individual businesses.
Public services will continue as usual, although there may be some changes to service availability. Further guidance on any potential considerations relating to the day of the State Funeral will be issued if needed.
It is not necessary to cover or remove existing official portraits or photographs in your organisation of Her Majesty as a mark of respect. It is the custom to leave these in place, at the discretion of the organisation. For example, you will still see in many older public buildings official portraits on display of King George VI and other previous monarchs.
Source: National Mourning Guidance.
Opening your own Book of Condolence
There are no physical Books of Condolence at the Royal Residences.
An online Book of Condolence for those who wish to leave messages is available on the Royal website.
Any organisation or person may open a book of condolence during the period of National Mourning.
There is no set format for a book of condolence. The layout of the table is usually a trestle table on which the book is placed with a white tablecloth, an arrangement of flowers (usually lilies or other white flowers) and a framed formal photograph of Her Majesty.
This could be an official portrait photograph, or one taken at a previous Royal visit. As a mark of respect, a black ribbon could be wrapped around the top right hand corner.
Please note the Royal Household and the government will not be able to receive books of condolence.
Source: National Mourning Guidance and Royal Family website.
This is what my local Authority in Ealing, London is doing:
Websites and social media
Online communication channels can also be used to reflect the demise of Her Majesty and participate in the period of National Mourning. Organisations can acknowledge the mourning period by making changes to the homepage of their website, for example, with the use of black edging or black banners.
Organisations and individuals may also wish to share their memories of Her Majesty online. There is no set way to mark the passing of Her Majesty on social media. Organisations may wish to review their planned content for the period.
Any changes to websites or social media pages should take into consideration accessibility requirements for visually impaired users.
Source: National Mourning Guidance.
Flags at Royal Residences
Flags at Royal Residences were half masted yesterday, Thursday 8 September, and will remain half-masted until 8am on the morning after the final day of Royal Mourning.
The half-masting of flags at Royal Residences does not apply to the Royal Standard and the Royal Standard in Scotland when The King is in residence, as they are always flown at full mast.
Guidance on flags at other public buildings has been issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. You can read it via the DCMS website.
The only exception to half-masting during this period of mourning is on the day of the Accession Council on 10 September when His Majesty The King is formally proclaimed. The Union Flag and all other official flags should be raised to full mast between the hours of 09:00 and 10:30 and remain at full mast until 13:00 the following day, at which time the Union and official flags should return to being flown at half mast.
Source: Flag Flying Guidance.
Floral Tributes at the Royal Residences
Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, the following guidance is given to members of the public who wish to leave floral tributes at Royal Residences:
- At Buckingham Palace members of the public will be guided to lay floral tributes at dedicated sites in The Green Park or Hyde Park. Flowers left outside the gates of Buckingham Palace will be moved to The Green Park Floral Tribute Garden by The Royal Parks. Further guidance will be issued by The Royal Parks.
- At Windsor Castle, floral tributes can be left at Cambridge Gate on the Long Walk. These flowers will be brought inside the Castle every evening, and placed on the Castle Chapter grass on the south side of St George’s Chapel and Cambridge Drive.
- At the Sandringham Estate, members of the public are encouraged to leave floral tributes at the Norwich Gates.
- At Balmoral Castle, floral tributes can be left at the Main Gate.
- At the Palace of Holyroodhouse, members of the public are encouraged to give floral tributes to the Wardens at the entrance to The Queen’s Gallery. Those flowers will be laid on the Forecourt grass in front of the North Turret of the Palace.
- At Hillsborough Castle, floral tributes may be laid on the Castle Forecourt, in front of the main gates.
Information on Floral Tributes at other public buildings and locations will be issued by the Cabinet Office.
Making a donation to one of Her Majesty’s many charities and patronages may be considered a fitting way of paying tribute to Her extraordinary legacy.
Source: National Mourning Guidance.
What to consider from an internal communication perspective
Create space for your colleagues to express their grief. If you have an employee assistant programme helpline, now is the time to remind them it exists.
If you have Mental Health First Aiders, consider what additional support they may need.
Look at what was in your editorial plan for the next fortnight. Consider postponing or cancelling events.
On that note, our Candid Comms podcast launch, which was scheduled to happen tomorrow will now be later in the month.
If you have scheduled content due to go out across your internal or external platforms, review to check it’s appropriateness and consider cancelling or postponing.
I recommend you read the resource I mentioned at the start of this article from Keith Riley as the community have been keeping it updated. Thank you Keith.
I also recommend reading this BBC article focused on Royal rebranding: What will happen to stamps, coins, banknotes and passports?
Further reading via the All Things IC website: How to communicate a Royal Funeral.
Resources from CIPD to help support employees after bereavement
I recommend checking out the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) website for compassionate bereavement support guides.
Their line managers’ guide was published last year and can be read via the CIPD website.
I hope you find this information helpful as you plan your internal communication.
The Queen lived a life of dignity, faith and service. It’s unthinkable to imagine the world without her steadying and constant presence.
Take good care and thank you for stopping by,
Post author: Rachel Miller, Founder, All Things IC.
First published on the All Things IC blog 9 September 2022.