During the period 8-10 May 2015 there will be three days of commemorations to mark 70 years since Victory in Europe (VE 70). The occasion is being commemorated with events across the UK.

As part of these commemorations, Her Majesty's Government buildings are being asked to fly the Union Flag at full mast from Friday 8 May to Sunday 10 May to mark the VE 70 celebrations.

During the VE 70 period Europe Day will fall on Saturday 9 May 15 which is already a designated day for flying the Union Flag. The guidance for Europe Day is as follows:

The Union Flag should be flown as full mast on all Government buildings on this day. Where the European flag is flown on this day, the Union Flag should fly alongside the European flag and, on UK government buildings that only have one flagpole, the Union Flag should take precedence. It is not advisable to fly two flags on one pole.

Further to the flying of flags for VE Day we are encouraged to observe a two minute silence on Friday 8 May. The Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph is timed to coincide with the moment Winston Churchill broadcast to the nation on VE Day in 1945. The service will start at 3pm with a two minute silence observed nationally.

In celebration of the birth of the second child of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke of Duchess of Cambridge, it is requested that Union Flags should be flown at full mast from all Government Buildings as follows:

Flag to be flown on Monday 4th May from 0800 hours until 2000 hours.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance.

Richard III epitaph I 3 f.4 cropped compressedOn 26 March 2015 King Richard III was reinterred in a specially-constructed tomb in Leicester Cathedral, in a service in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses the Countess of Wessex and the Duke of Gloucester, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor and other distinguished guests. The College of Arms, founded by Richard III in 1484, was represented in the procession and service by Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms, and Peter O'Donoghue, York Herald. Some information about the reburial service can be had here and here.

Illustrated left is an image from a College of Arms manuscript, showing an epitaph for Richard III. It is in the hand of Thomas Hawley, Clarenceux King of Arms, a herald between 1509 and his death in 1557. The epitaph would seem to come from the original tomb of Richard in the Franciscan Priory in Leicester, erected by Henry VII. It makes reference to the latter's piety and generosity, whilst hoping that the reader will pray for Richard on account of his offences and thus lessen his punishment.

The year 2015 sees the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., O.M., C.H.

Churchill received many great honours both domestically and internationally. Arguably one of the greatest followed his death on 24 January 1965: the grant of a State Funeral. This took place at St Paul's Cathedral, London, on 30 January 1965.

The ceremony was arranged by the Earl Marshal with the Officers of Arms, the heralds, staffing his office and making the detailed plans. They also took part in the funeral itself. Volumes of papers relating to the ceremonial for the funeral are held at the College of Arms; a small selection are displayed here.

 

WSC Funeral Order Serv cover compressedCover of the Order of Service, showing Churchill's Arms within the Garter.

WSC Funeral Cere pp 8-9 compressedOrder of the Procession into the Cathedral, and the opening sentences of the Service

Operation Hope Not compressedPlanning for the funeral began early, under the code name Operation 'Hope Not'. Several draft orders were composed in the years before Churchill's death and issued to those responsible for organising elements of the funeral. Sir George Bellew, Garter King of Arms, was one such, and the College holds his copy of orders issued in July 1962 by Major General Sir George Burns. In this introductory page, Burns emphasises that the classification of the correspondence has been upgraded to 'Secret' for security purposes.

Procedure at St Pauls compressedPlan for the procedure to be followed at St Paul's Cathedral. The Queen's car was to arrive at the Cathedral via Godliman Street, immediately to the left of the College of Arms.

WSC Funeral order of procession compressedOrder of the procession through London

Feeding compressedPlanning had of course to take into account practical consideration for the troops lining the streets. Those who were not in a position to go to their barracks for lunch were provided with either tea and buns, or tea and a haversack ration.

WSC Funeral invitation compressedThe Earl Marshal's Office was responsible for arranging invitations and tickets to the Service, which included issuing invitations and politely declining requests to attend from those persons and organisations that had not been invited. Such communications were sent out in the name of A. Colin Cole, then Portcullis Pursuivant of Arms and later Garter King of Arms.

WSC Funeral ticket compressed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WSC Funeral Cere pp 8-9 compressedCeremonial showing details of the Earl Marshal's Procession into the Cathedral. Four Officers of Arms carried the Achievements of an heraldic funeral: the spurs, crest, targe and sword.

WSC Funeral time table p.2 compressedDetailed timetable for the funeral. At the beginning of the Service, the Officers of Arms lined the steps to the Cathedral as the mourners entered.

WSC Funeral timetable p. 5 compressedPage of the timetable instructing the Earl Marshal's Procession, of which the heralds were part, to enter the Great West Door of the Cathedral at 10.49. Officers of Arms process in front of the coffin, and after it is placed on the bier put the funeral Achievements onto the table before withdrawing to their seats. After the Service, they process out with the Achievements.

The original (black and white) BBC broadcast of the State Funeral can be watched online here. The British Pathé colour footage is here.

Learning with regret of the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia, on 23 January 2015, special instructions have been received requesting that all Union Flags on buildings of her Majesty's Government be flown at half-mast from 8 a.m. this morning until 8 p.m. this evening, 24 January 2015.

Any other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

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By decision of the College of Arms all proceeds arising from the sale of The Armorial of Haiti will be donated to the international effort for the relief of Haiti
after the calamitous earthquake of 12 January 2010.

The College of Arms Newsletter is produced every three months and sent automatically and free to those who subscribe. Other benefits for those who submit their names in this way include advance notice of College of Arms events, relevant publications, and media appearances.

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