More join the big shutdown as Britain plc shows respect

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The Independent Online
Hundreds of stores, theatres, cinemas, banks and radio stations joined the groundswell of organisations planning to close or observe a silence on Saturday as the Princess is laid to rest.

Prince Charles has cancelled all his engagements for next week, including working trips to Berlin and Prague, in order to continue comforting his two young sons.

Buckingham Palace has made no official request for the general public to mark the occasion, saying it was "up to the individual" to do so, but there are few bodies that will not be honouring the event in some way.

But while all major sporting fixtures in England have been cancelled on Saturday, Scotland decided to hold the World Cup qualifier between Scotland and Belarus. Last night, the Scottish Secretary, Donald Dewar, voiced "great concern" at the scheduling.

Transport networks up and down the country will come to a standstill, although extra trains will run on Saturday to bring into London the many thousands who will line the route of Diana's funeral procession, and all mainline stations will observe a two-minute silence at 11am. London Underground will also operate extra services on the District and Circle Lines, but Westminster Tube station will be closed all day.

Insurance companies are even offering to pay out claims by couples who want to postpone their weddings on Saturday, out of respect for Diana's funeral. A spokesman for Ecclesiastical, which sells about 300 policies for wedding insurance each year, said: "In view of the unprecedented circumstances, we would pay out if they felt they could not go though with it. But we would want people to contact us before then, because we are closing on Saturday."

Sotheby's announced last night that the auction of the collection of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, between 11 and 19 September, has been postponed indefinitely.

Britain's busiest port, Dover, will come to a total standstill at 11am, with all cross-Channel ferries and hovercraft halting in the port and hundreds of passengers being asked to stand for two minutes' silence.

Planes are expected to be re-routed away from central London during the ceremony, and British Airways will be showing television tributes to Diana on in-flight entertainment screens.

The Department of Trade and Industry, the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses yesterday urged bosses to be flexible and to respect the wishes of workers who wanted to pay their respects to Diana.

Marks & Spencer, Barclays Bank, Blockbuster video and The Cancer Research Campaign were among the hundreds of businesses and other organisations which announced yesterday that they would not be trading on Saturday morning.

The London department store Selfridges said that, as well as closing until 1pm, it would be making a donation from the day's takings to one of the Princess's favourite charities.

And while hundreds of museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, will shut their doors for the morning, the Royal Academy will be staying open and asking for donations towards two of Diana's favourite charities, instead of the usual pounds 5.50 admission fee.

Some pubs are expected to close throughout the day while others will open especially to provide a focus for people watching the funeral on TV.

Other gestures have been made by entertainer Chris Evans, who scrapped his TFI Friday show because he was said to be in "no mood for jokes", and film distributors UIP, who have postponed releasing That Old Feeling - a romantic comedy featuring a paparazzi photographer.

Charity match plan, Sport