Mourning Sir Howard Cooke

Guidelines for the public


Wednesday, August 06, 2014    

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SO as to help ensure uniformity and correct procedures during this week's period of mourning for Sir Howard Cooke, the editor has asked me to give some guidelines for companies, uniformed voluntary organisations and the private citizen. I hope that Observer readers may find the following useful.

Flag Etiquette

The designated period of mourning is from Thursday morning until the end of the interment ceremony and the National Flag is to be flown at half mast through this period. Where a premises has more than one flagstaff, the National Flag should always preferably be raised on the right-hand one (left-hand as seen by the outside observer). Any other flag must be flown to the left of the National Flag. The official Jamaican code for the National Flag recommends that it is flown on public buildings, if possible from 8:00 am until sundown. I would suggest a similar or 'next best' procedure for those outside the public sector.

There is a special procedure for flying any national flag at half mast and it is suggested that this should be followed also for company flags and the like. The flag always shall first be hoisted close up and then lowered to the half mast position; this is approximately the 'hoist' or width (short side) of the flag below the peak of the flagstaff and NOT halfway down the mast. Before the flag is lowered at sunset, it shall once again be hoisted close up and then lowered fully.

Whenever the National Flag is being flown together with other flags, the former should be raised first and subsequently lowered last. When flown together, any other flag should not be larger than the National Flag.

Period of Mourning

On Thursday, and Friday daytime no public social function or official event should be held. The official condolence books may be signed between the hours of 10:00 am and 5:00 pm throughout the overall period ending on Thursday.

In Kingston, condolence books are at King's House; Mico University College (President's Office); the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade; People's National Party Headquarters; and Hope United Church, 221 Old Hope Road. In Montego Bay, at the Office of the Prime Minister, Western Region.


On any occasion described as a 'State' event, eg, State Ceremony, State Funeral, etc, state honours, service decorations or medals should always be worn by the relevant recipients. On a daytime occasion such as Sir Howard Cooke's funeral, the full-size badge should be worn, and not the miniature replica, which is restricted to very formal evening state events only.

During a period of state mourning it is recommended that men wearing neckties should select black ties or other dark very conservative plain ones or with subdued patterns; ladies should

dress appropriately correspondingly. Uniformed officers (only) from organisations such as St John Ambulance, Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, (and especially if at the laying-in-state, the state funeral service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral or along the route to National Heroes Park), should wear black crepe or cloth armbands on the left sleeves.

With short sleeves, this should be worn at the bottom of the left sleeve, and at a similar point, just above the elbow, with a long-sleeved tunic or shirt. The armband should be approximately eight cms (three inches) wide.

Regarding the term 'lying-in-state', as a point of incidental information, this phrase should only be used in regard to state funerals; it should not be used even in regard to official funerals, much less as is common in Jamaica, to any funeral. The counterpart term is simply 'lie', eg 'the body will lie at ...'

The Cortege

As the coffin leaves the cathedral, the Guard of Honour mounted by one of the three battalions of the Jamaica Regiment will give a General Salute, during which persons present should stand silently to attention.

During the subsequent 21 gun salute (with the rounds probably at approximately one minute intervals) during the movement of the cortege to National Heroes Park, all persons should behave appropriately in both sound and movement. When the gun carriage draws abreast of spectators along the route, those in plain clothes should stand silently at attention, and remove headdress if worn; uniformed personnel should come to attention and uniformed officers (only) should salute.

— Merrick needham is Jamaica's foremost logistics and protocol consultant





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