Meeting the moment: the importance of planning

“I never knew there was quite so much advance preparation. I’ll know another time.” Princess Elizabeth on a visit by her parents to the Territorial Service, 20 August 1945.

After eleven days of national mourning following the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a quote from her younger days noting the importance of planning seems apt as we reflect on the financial sector’s response to what has been a pivotal moment in this country’s history.

Events moved quickly following the announcement of the Queen's passing. Quickly standing up our internal incident management procedures and with one eye on our responsibilities under the Sector Response Framework, UK Finance worked closely with members and the Bank of England as we strove to minimise disruption for clients and customers. Conscious that early, clear and consistent communication as to the operational impact of the funeral arrangements was critical, the Business and Operational Continuity Committee (BOCC) met early Friday morning to pool members’ questions, concerns and observations. Following the formal ascension of the now-King Charles III on Saturday morning, the Bank of England’s Cross-Market Business Continuity Group (CMBCG) also subsequently convened. Its task; to formally advise the sector that the State Funeral of Her Majesty the Queen on Monday 19 September 2022 would be a UK Bank holiday, and to identify and consider the resulting operational consequences.  

Over the following days UK Finance regularly consulted with the BOCC as to a myriad of operational matters while also working in partnership with the UK authorities, other trade associations and a range of FMIs such as Euroclear, the London Metal Exchange and the London Stock Exchange.  As a result of these efforts, UK Finance was able to produce a number of useful FAQs documents that detailed payment, trading and settlement infrastructure working arrangements for the consumption of both the sector and the wider public. It was through these activities that much disruption and angst was avoided when it came to the day of the funeral, and the focus stayed rightly on the Queen.

As smoothly as the day went, lessons can be learned. Prior planning and preparation is essential; there is a need to codify government and Royal funeral arrangements for the future and make them publicly available. Additionally, there was a general opacity in the days after the Queen’s death as to who was making key decisions and when they would be made, an outcome that should be addressed.  Finally, and as evidenced by this event, transparent and well-understood sector response arrangements are crucial to minimise disruption agnostic of cause.