Ceremonial drill is usually carried out in full view of the general public and therefore must be seen to be of the highest order. Remember, bad drill will always get noticed.
It is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules since each event will be ultimately determined by local circumstances. However, the three P’s - Protocol, Precedence and Procedure, will always need to be observed. Similarly the officiating clergy should be consulted and, as a matter of courtesy, any variations requested should be incorporated.
A Parade Marshall should always remember that he is dealing with Volunteers who should be treated accordingly; there is no need to bawl and ridicule parade members in public and common sense should prevail.
A very broad outline of the requirements of the RBL Ceremonial Handbook follows, further advice and assistance for specific events is available if required.
Starting with the march to the church – the Parade Marshal should form up the column with the Band/Piper in the lead followed by Standards. Note that the Union Flag (Queens Colour) takes precedence over all County and Branch Standards. Marching contingents of Branch Members, Cadet Units, etc should enter the church before the Colour Party. When all is ready the Colour Party march in ‘Slow Time’ into the church to the chancel/altar step.
The Standard is handed to the clergy and the Colour Party retire to their seats, males removing headdress. At the appropriate point in the service the Colour Party replace headdress and move into position to receive the Standard. Sometimes the Standard Bearer will kneel on the right knee to hand over and receive the Standard, at other times the hand over may be at the ‘Port’; usually dictated by local conditions. The Standard is ‘Dipped’ for the National Anthem, Last Post, Exhortation and Response; and is ‘Raised’ at the first note of Reveille. At the end of the service Standards are marched out of church in ‘Quick Time’. Where a Band provides the music inside a large building it is common practice to march Standards in and out in ‘Quick Time’.
Laying up/Retiring Standards.
Old Standards may be laid up with due ceremony in a local church, a Branch premises, a Civic Building or other suitable location. It should be clearly understood that once a Standard has been laid up it can no longer be used for any purpose. A Standard that is no longer fit for parade duty may be suitable for Training, in which case the Standard should be ‘Retired’.
Dedication of a New Standard.
The march to the church forms as for a parade, however, the New Standard should be furled onto its pole and carried at the ‘Slope’. A New Standard should never be at the ‘Carry’ before it has been dedicated. The New Standard and Escort, accompanied by the Branch Chairman, should take post at the rear of the column. If an Old Standard is to be replaced it may be ‘Trooped’ into church in ‘Slow Time’. Supporting Standards should ‘Dip’ as the Old Standard passes through.
There may be a March Past after the Service of Dedication, when the New Standard, Branch Officers and Members should take post behind the Band and in front of the Massed Standards and supporting Branch Members.
Only if the relatives wish it may a Branch Standard be present at the funeral of any of its Members. Branch Members may either attend with the congregation or act as pall bearers if requested to do so. It is important to determine the family wishes and to consult with both the officiating clergy and the funeral director.
It is customary for the Branch Standard to precede the coffin into and out of the church, chapel, or other sacred building. Within the church the Standard should stand abreast of the coffin, if space permits, during the service. The same procedure should be followed at the place of interment, and the Standard should ‘Dip’ as an act of homage as the coffin is lowered into the grave.
For a cremation service the same procedure should be adopted. The Standard should be ‘Dipped’, as an act of homage, as the curtains close to remove the coffin from view.
When the Branch Standard is paraded at a funeral a ‘Mourning Drape’ should be attached to the neck of the finial immediately below the spear point.
These notes are for general guidance only.
If in doubt - ASK.
Your County Parade Marshal will provide advice and guidance on Ceremonial Duties.