Parties are canceled and bells ring as UK financial sector pays tribute

A portrait of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is seen in a store, after the Queen’s death, in London, Britain September 12, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

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LONDON, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Britain’s financial sector is cutting back on activity ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral next Monday, canceling events and cutting business, as a grieving nation prepares to bid farewell to the Britain’s longest-serving monarch.

Post-summer parties have been scrapped and political announcements and meetings have been postponed following the death of the 96-year-old head of state on Thursday at his summer residence in Balmoral, in the Scottish Highlands.

The Bank of England set the tone quickly after the Queen’s death on September 8, delaying a September 15 meeting of its monetary policy committee and an expected hike in Britain’s base interest rate as part of efforts to to stop runaway inflation. Read more

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Speeches by BoE officials, such as that of co-chief insurance officer Anna Sweeney to the Association of British Insurers on Tuesday, have been postponed.

The Financial Conduct Authority’s annual meeting, scheduled for Thursday, has also been postponed, along with policy announcements scheduled for this week.

“Following the announcement of the death of Her Majesty The Queen on September 8, the FCA, like other public bodies, is now observing a period of mourning,” the watchdog said.

“During the mourning period, we will only be releasing business-critical updates.”

Dozens of senior City officials, industry associations and the London Stock Exchange have flocked to social media to express their condolences and pay tribute to the Queen’s unprecedented 70-year reign.

HSBC Chief Executive Noel Quinn has signed a book of condolences at the British High Commission in New Delhi, a post on professional networking site LinkedIn showed.

Charlie Nunn, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L), recalled a meeting last October with King Charles III on the same platform, describing the “passion and knowledge” and “deep sense of duty” of the new monarch as qualities that “would serve him and our nation well” in his new role.

The British divisions of European banks also marked the event. Tiina Lee, UK CEO of Germany’s Deutsche Bank, said the late Queen was “a powerful symbol of duty and steadfastness in an ever-changing world”.

UK financial sector staff are expected to observe a public holiday, known as a ‘bank holiday’ in Britain, on September 19, when the Queen’s funeral is due to take place at Westminster Abbey in London.

The London Stock Exchange will be closed on that day, as will the city’s historic insurance market, Lloyd’s of London (SOLYD.UL).

Lloyd’s held two minutes of silence and rang its so-called Lutine bell on its subscription floor to mark the Queen’s death on Thursday evening. The bell was traditionally rung once when a ship was lost at sea.

Lloyd’s could also ring twice to welcome King Charles III later this week, a spokesman said.

Market Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown and Chief Executive John Neal also canceled their attendance at the regular reinsurance industry conference in Monte Carlo, which began on September 10.

Coutts Private Bank – which has long counted the Royal Family among its clients and was known as the ‘Queen’s Bank’ – said it had removed the Coutts flag which flew above its headquarters on the London Strand near Trafalgar Square as a sign of respect.

A Union Jack flag flies above the half-mast building instead, and a book of condolences will be set up inside for customers and staff to write messages, the bank said on its website.

Alison Rose, chief executive of Coutts’ parent company NatWest, shared her condolences in a LinkedIn post, adding that she was personally inspired by King Charles’ “genuine passion for the environment”.

British lender Barclays (BARC.L) will hold its annual three-day financial conference in New York from Monday, with executives from Goldman Sachs (GS.N), JPMorgan (JPM.N), Citi (CN) and Bank of America (BAC.N) planned to attend.

The bank is expected to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth at the event, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters, without giving details.

The British branch of Spain’s largest bank, Banco Santander (SAN.MC) decided to cancel a cocktail hour for members of the media on Tuesday, as a mark of respect. Wealth management firm Evelyn Partners also announced it was postponing a similar event it was due to hold on Wednesday.

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Additional reporting by Huw Jones and Iain Withers; edited by Jonathan Oatis

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