RCMP regimental funerals

The RCMP has evolved as one of Canada's national symbols and it is highly important for members, particularly at detachment level, to participate in parades and ceremonies, especially in light of our military traditions, history of service in defence of Canada and current United Nations peacekeeping duties.

General

The decision to accord a regimental funeral is that of the Commanding Officer (CO) in consultation with the next of kin and National Headquarters, and Commissioner's Office.

A regimental funeral may be accorded to a deceased serving Regular Member (RM), and with the preapproval of the Commissioner, a deceased former RM who has served with distinction and superannuated in good standing.

A funeral coordinator is appointed to a Regimental Funeral.

Funeral procession

The bearer party consists of eight casket bearers; insignia bearer, only if there are insignia to be borne; two headdress bearers; and bearer party commander.

Honorary pallbearers are the members/persons who escort rather than help carry the casket. They can be RCMP members or non members, and in the present era, a combination of RMs and others is acceptable. The pall is a covering, usually of black, purple or white cloth, placed over the casket/tomb. It is not essential to designate pallbearers for every funeral, however, it is customary to do so for a full-scale regimental funeral.

The insignia bearer is nominated by the next of kin, and will normally be an RCMP member of similar rank to the deceased. Sometimes, exceptions are made, depending on circumstances and in keeping with the practice of honouring the deceased.

With the prior approval of the next of kin, a firing party may be authorized to fire volleys at the funeral of an officer below the rank of Assistant Commissioner. Three rounds of blank cartridges, loaded in advance, are discharged at the graveside immediately before Last Post is sounded.

In a full regimental funeral where a procession is to take place, a charger (i.e. rider-less horse) will be led by a Constable/Junior NCO immediately behind the insignia bearer. The jack boots of the deceased will be placed reversed in the stirrups with heels to the front, i.e. left boot in the right stirrup. The rider-less horse clearly symbolizes the loss of a comrade in arms, and the "reverse order" of the boots and stirrups symbolizes how death is the opposite of life.

Order of dress

Dress for members participating in or attending funerals will be Review Order complete with stripped Sam Browne, medals, decorations and mourning ribbon. Officer sand Warrant Officers will also wear a felt hat (Stetson) when parading with other ranks.

A mourning band may be worn during a state funeral. The band is worn on the left sleeve of the uniform, midway between the elbow and shoulder by Officers, S/Ms, bearer party and honorary pallbearers in uniform.

Orders, decorations and medals will be worn by all participating members, including those attending in uniform who are not members of a unit, guard, escort, etc.

Colours (RCMP Guidon)

The Guidon is the RCMP's consecrated regimental flag. It contains the honorary distinctions and theatre honours awarded to the Northwest Mounted Police, Royal Northwest Mounted Police and the RCMP for gallantry in battle. The Guidon displays two Royal Cyphers plus the Badge of the Force in the centre, Theatre Honours for Northwest Canada, 1885, South Africa, 1900-2, France & Flanders, 1918, and Siberia, 1918-19, and a scroll to commemorate the RCMP's service in Europe during World War II, where its main contribution was as the Number 1 Company (RCMP) Canadian Provost Corps.

The Guidon is only paraded by itself or with other military colours. It is never paraded with other flags, including the National Flag of Canada, or other flags, banners or ensigns.

The RCMP has been presented with two Guidons. The first was taken out of service in 1973 and laid up in the Chapel at "Depot" Division in Regina. At that time, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Commissioner in Chief of the RCMP, presented the Force with its present and second Guidon.

By permission of the Commissioner, the RCMP Guidon is often present at RCMP regimental funerals. The RCMP Guidon is carried and escorted by a Guidon Party which is comprised of a minimum of three members; the Guidon Bearer and at least two armed escorts. They are assisted by a Guidon Orderly, whose job is to help uncase and case it.

The Guidon is only carried by a Warrant Officer (Staff Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major or Corps Sergeant Major) in keeping with long standing British and Commonwealth tradition dating back to the early 1800s, and confirmed by army regulations in 1898. Canada and other commonwealth nations were bound by these regulations at the time they were enacted. In the modern era, the practices have been retained as traditions among the Canadian Forces and the RCMP.

When Warrant Officers act as members of the Guidon Party, they will draw swords in ceremonial "defence of the Guidon." In the RCMP, this is the only time a Warrant Officer will draw their sword on a parade, that privilege being usually reserved for Commissioned Officers (Inspectors and higher) who are in command of troops or the parade itself.

If the Guidon is present, it is usually splayed on "piled" regimental drums. This was traditionally the manner in which divine services were carried out in the field during battle. The drums become the alter, and the Guidon is considered "secure in the church" for duration of the service that follows. Once that is done, arms are lowered or secured and Guidon Party departs until they return to take up the Guidon at the conclusion.

Flags and Ensigns

Flags are authorized to be half-masted during the mourning period. On completion of funeral services, the flag will be full-masted to denote the end of official mourning.

The National flag is used to dress the casket; however, the Royal Union (Union Jack) or RCMP Corps Ensign may also be used if so requested by the next of kin, or in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.

At an appropriate time and upon consultation with the family, the flag used to drape the casket may be presented to the next of kin the day of the funeral or the next day when returning other items used in the funeral.

Saluting and removing headdress

Officers and NCOs in command and officers and other ranks not under command will salute each time that the casket passes by; while the casket is being placed on a gun carriage/hearse; during the sounding of the Last Post and Reveille; and at the foot of the grave when paying final respects. Other ranks under command will not salute.

The headdress is removed:

  • on entering a religious/sacred building;
  • by the bearer party before lifting or handling the casket;
  • at the start of the graveside service, signaled when the chaplain steps forward; and
  • at the start of the chapel service where cremation is to take place, signaled when the chaplain steps forward.

The headdress is replaced:

  • at the graveside service before the sounding of the Last Post and the Rouse, signaled when the chaplain steps back; and
  • at the end of the chapel service where cremation is to take place, before the sounding of the Last Post and the Rouse, signaled when the chaplain steps back.
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