‘No Obligation To Cancel Or Postpone Events’ In Light Of Queen’s Death

The late Queen and Prince Charles on stage at the Royal Albert Hall for the Queen’s 92nd birthday celebrations, April 21, 2018. Photo by Andy Paradise

“Last minute match delays and bans because of a Royal’s death?! Respect Fans!” Words on a banner held up in protest by soccer fans at the Sept. 13 Champions League fixture between Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona. They were showing solidarity with two other European soccer clubs, Glasgow Rangers and SSC Naples, whose Sept. 13 Champions League match got postponed by one day due to limited police resources in the aftermath of Queen Elizabeth II’s death Sept. 8. What’s more, European soccer association UEFA banned Naples’ away fans from attending the match. For reasons of sportsmanship, UEFA banned Rangers’ fans from attending the Oct. 26 rematch as well. This infuriated fans, who had already booked travel and accommodation.

England’s Premier League, the country’s top-flight soccer competition, postponed its entire week of matches following the Queen’s death, which caused some backlash from fans and players. Many felt like soccer represented an opportunity to come together in a time of mourning. Others criticized that other sporting events, including cricket, rugby, golf and a marathon, went ahead that same weekend. It’s all fair play under the UK’s Cabinet Office’s guidance for individuals and businesses on how to behave during the national mourning period in the aftermath of the Queen’s passing, which will last until seven days after her funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on Sept. 19.

For major events, entertainment and sports, the guidance reads as follows: “There is no obligation to cancel or postpone events and sporting fixtures, or close entertainment venues during the national mourning period. This is at the discretion of individual organizations. As a mark of respect, organizations might wish to consider cancelling or postponing events or closing venues on the day of the state funeral. They are under no obligation to do so and this is entirely at the discretion of individual organizations.”

This isn’t the place to delve into the controversial history of The Firm, as the Royal institution is also referred to. Suffice to say, there’s aspects, historic and modern, which may make some critical observers wonder why millions are still infatuated by the spectacle of rulers and subjects. However, what the Premier League did in sports is the exception. Hardly any live music events canceled, those that did are mostly organized, or at least broadcast by UK public broadcaster BBC.

These include the Mercury Prize ceremony, which was about to begin when news of the Queen’s passing broke. The BBC Proms, an eight-week classical music concert series taking place predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London, were due to conclude Sept. 10. Following the Queen’s death, the last two nights of the Proms were canceled. The Royal Albert Hall’s history is royal history to a large extent, and the iconic building shared some memorable Queen moments on the Hall’s website. As patron of the Royal Albert Hall, she visited the building 130 times over the years, taking in a variety of concerts and celebrations from her own box. She first visited the Hall on Dec. 15, 1934, as a princess, for a Royal Choral Society carol concert, accompanied by her mother and sister.

After becoming Queen in February 1952, Elizabeth II’s first official visit to the Hall as head of state came on Nov. 8, 1952, for the British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance, which she continued to attend annually. On April 21, 2018, the Royal Family and a plethora of stars celebrated Her Majesty’s 92nd birthday at the Hall.

The latest event to cancel is the BBC Radio 2 festival Live In Leeds, scheduled Sept. 17-18, with a lineup including Simple Minds, Tears For Fears, Robbie Williams and Nile Rodgers & Chic. This year’s edition was set to be BBC Radio 2’s first major outdoor event since 2019. While a publicly funded station may be in a better position to go without its flagship event for a third year in a row, private promoters aren’t. One major promoter wishing to remain anonymous told Pollstar that they’d follow government guidelines, which allow events to continue. “Should an artist, or a venue, wish to cancel for whatever reason, sentiment etc., then we would obviously take their instruction,” the promoter said.

UK trade body LIVE isn’t seeing a huge number of concert or tour cancellations. The same holds true for grassroots venues. The UK’s Music Venue Trust told Pollstar, “the general consensus amongst grassroots music venues is that they will be going ahead with the shows they have programmed. With the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy costs in the UK placing huge pressures on venues, many have taken the decision that they must proceed with the shows they had planned as they can’t afford to cancel them. Guidance from the Cabinet Office makes it clear that businesses are not under an obligation to close. It’s likely that individual venue operators are going to decide on a case-by-case basis as to how they wish to proceed, and this will be based on their own personal views and the desire of their local communities.”