RCMP regimental funerals
Regimental funerals maintain the traditions and customs of the RCMP by honouring fallen members and their families with the utmost dignity and respect. The RCMP's historical military connections make it unique amongst Canadian police forces in being able to provide "regimental" funerals.
Funerals for fallen RCMP members
The RCMP may accord a regimental funeral to a member who died in the line of duty. Regimental Funerals involve RCMP participation and a variety regimental elements, customs or traditions. It must be requested by the survivor or the estate and approved by the Commanding Officer (CO) of the division where the regular member (RM) last served and/or the Commissioner.
In exceptional circumstances, the RCMP may provide, with the approval of the Commissioner, a regimental funeral to a deceased former RM who served with distinction and retired in good standing.
A regimental funeral typically includes:
- A procession
- A church service or public service
- An interment or graveside ceremony
- A chapel ceremony for cremations
The funeral procession
A regimental funeral procession consists of:
- A charger (a riderless horse)
- A bearer party
- Honourary pallbearers
- A gun carriage or hearse
The bearer party consists of:
- a bearer party commander
- eight casket bearers
- an insignia bearer if there are insignia to be borne
- two headdress bearers
The next-of-kin nominates the insignia bearer, who is normally an RCMP member of similar rank to the deceased.
The party may also include honorary pallbearers, individuals who escort rather than help carry the casket. They can be RCMP members or non-members.
A constable or junior non-commissioned officer (NCO) leads the charger immediately behind the insignia bearer.
The high brown boots of the deceased are placed reversed in the stirrups with heels to the front, i.e., left boot in the right stirrup. The rider-less horse 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
By permission of the Commissioner, the guidon may be present. Only a warrant officer (staff sergeant major, sergeant major or corps sergeant major) may carry the guidon. This is in keeping with British and Commonwealth tradition dating back to the early 1800s.
If the guidon is present, it is usually displayed on "piled" regimental drums. This was traditionally the manner in which divine services were carried out on the battlefield. The drums become the altar, and the guidon is considered "secure in the church" for the duration of the service that follows. Once that is done, arms are lowered or secured and the warrant officer departs until he or she returns to collect the guidon at the end of the service.
Flags and ensigns
Flags flown at RCMP facilities are authorized to be half-masted during the mourning period, as per Heritage Canada's rules for half-masting the Canadian flag.
The national flag typically dresses the casket. However, the next-of-kin or the deceased may request the Royal Union (Union Jack) or RCMP corps ensign as well.
At an appropriate time and upon consultation with the family, the flag used to drape the casket and the member's Stetson may be presented to next-of-kin.
Saluting and removing headdress
Officers and NCOs in command and officers/other ranks not under command salute:
- each time the casket passes by
- while the casket is being placed on a gun carriage/hearse
- during the sounding of the Last Post and Reveille
- at the foot of the grave when paying final respects
Members remove their headdress:
- on entering a religious or 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
- at the start of the chapel service where cremation is to take place, signaled when the chaplain steps forward
Members replace their headdress:
- at the graveside service before the sounding of the Last Post and the Rouse, signaled when the chaplain steps back
- 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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