Businesses, financial institutions and unions have canceled or postponed events as a show of respect for the Queen, with the Bank of England delaying a decision to raise interest rates to deal with rising inflation.
The central bank said its rate-setting monetary policy committee (MPC) would hold its next meeting on Thursday a week later than planned as the UK goes through a period of national mourning.
In a statement, Threadneedle Street said: “In light of the period of national mourning now seen in the UK, the September 2022 Monetary Policy Committee meeting has been postponed by a week. The committee’s decision will be set for September 22. announced at 12 noon.”
The Bank was widely expected to raise interest rates by at least 0.5 percentage points from the current level of 1.75%, in response to inflation reaching its highest level since the early 1980s.
Since the central bank was given independence to set interest rates in 1997 by then-chancellor Gordon Brown, it has rarely held meetings outside a strictly scheduled schedule, set at least a year in advance. During times of economic crises, including the 2008 financial crisis and the Covid pandemic, several additional emergency meetings have been held, but delays are uncommon.
Britain’s main trade union meeting has also been postponed as a sign of respect for Elizabeth II. The TUC said the congress, which was due to start in Brighton on Sunday, would be postponed until later this fall.
The London Stock Exchange is normally open for trading on Friday, but is likely to close on the day of the funeral, if a public holiday is mentioned. Lloyd’s of London plans to close its City of London building that day as a show of respect. The world’s largest and oldest insurance market said it “would cherish the memories” of the monarch’s visits.
Lloyd’s rang the Lutine bell once Thursday night in honor of the Queen’s death, just after it was announced by Buckingham Palace. The bell used to be rung at the arrival of news of an overdue ship, once for the loss of the ship and twice for the return, but more recently it has been rung on special occasions.
The National Mourning Directive published on Friday states that some businesses may want to consider closing or postponing events, especially on state funeral day. However, there is no obligation to suspend business – the decision is at the discretion of each company.
Business events such as drinks are canceled or postponed. The British Fashion Council (BFC) said London Fashion Week would continue as normal next week. It would be a limited event, the BFC said, adding that “non-core events” such as parties and openings should be canceled. However, luxury British brand Burberry and Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons have both canceled their shows.
Several retailers made the decision to close on Friday as tributes to the Queen poured in from the business community. Liberty department store is keeping its West End London store closed until Saturday, saying: “Our heartfelt condolences and thoughts are with the Royal Family at this sad time.”
Selfridges shops, which closed early on Thursday following the announcement of the Queen’s death, remained closed on Friday and will reopen on Saturday. French Connection said it closed all its stores on Friday.
Tony Danker, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, led the tribute from British companies mourning the Queen.
“Throughout her unprecedented 70 years on the throne, HRH Queen Elizabeth II served the nation with distinction as a steadfast example of British values of honour, dignity and resilience. She dedicated her life to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, providing compassionate and inspiring leadership through the many challenging times of her long reign,” Danker said.
Broadcasters, newspaper publishers, radio stations and social media platforms, including Snapchat, launched an unprecedented ad blackout on Friday.
UK Steel, which represents the country’s steel industry, said: “We are all indebted to her for the duty and public service she has devoted her life to in the UK, the Commonwealth and around the world. The industry is sending its thoughts and prayers to her family.”
Investors also paid tribute to the Queen. Bill Blain, a strategist at Shard Capital, said the Queen… instrumental in establishing and strengthening Britain’s soft power and global position.
Plagued by crisis, uncertainty and even a growing distrust of our political institutions, we may seem unprepared for this latest shock, Blain wrote. “But we will come together in national sorrow and heartfelt sorrow – together, strong in each other. Our monarchy will continue – our nation will change.”
Strikes by postal and railway workers were canceled as a sign of respect.
The Bank of England’s decision to postpone MPC’s meeting gives it more time to consider options for responding to inflation after Liz Truss announced plans to freeze household energy costs at £2,500 for an average household for two year from October.
The commission will also be able to consider the latest figures on the economy, the labor market and inflation data for August, after the Office for National Statistics confirms that it plans to continue publishing the figures. as advertised next week.