The United Kingdom National Rail sparked a huge controversy over the weekend after it turned its website grey as a tribute to Prince Philip, leaving visually impaired users struggling to buy tickets.

National Rail Enquiries took to Twitter to confirm that the greyscale on its website is indeed a well-thought decision to honour the Queen's husband, but further baffled people by misspelling the name of the late Prince Consort. The tweet read: "We've put our website in to black and white as mark of respect for Prince Phillip who passed away last week."

The website users took to Twitter to criticise the move dubbing it "a virtue signalling of the worst kind." A user wrote: "I thought it was just a joke on Twitter at first, but no: National Rail Enquiries really have greyscaled their website in mourning. Hope no visually impaired people need to catch a train this week!" Another commented: "What on earth does it achieve? Does the Queen really care that National Rail Enquiries have made their website grey (and unusable in the process)?" An employee of the company itself admitted to facing troubles while reading the new website, as per Mail Online.

The grey scale tribute was in violation of the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, under which public agencies are expected to "use text colours that show up clearly against the background colour." One Twitter user pointed out that the website itself includes a message about The Equality Act 2020 which places a legal duty on the company to ensure that people with disabilities do not experience unreasonable difficulty in accessing services, including websites and other information provisions.

"National Rail Enquiries takes the responsibility to ensure that people with disabilities can access information extremely seriously," the website reads.

Their tribute was also not in adherence with government guidelines for the period of national mourning for the royal which only suggested 'black edging or black banners' that has been done by several organisations.

The temporary design was reversed by 10 am on Monday, after severe trolling. A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which runs the National Rail website, clarified in a statement: "The National Rail website was temporarily greyscaled as a mark of respect following the death of HRH Duke of Edinburgh on Friday. We have listened to feedback and have made changes to make it more accessible to all our customers."

Prince Philip
Prince Philip. Photo: POOL / Adrian DENNIS