What is a state funeral and will Captain Tom Moore get one?

A PETITION has started calling for Captain Tom Moore to receive a state funeral.

The honour is reserved for monarchs and exceptional civilians.

What is a state funeral?

A state funeral is a national event usually reserved for monarchs but on rare occasions it can be used for distinguished figures.

Funerals for high-ranking members of the royal family as well as important public figures are usually referred to as “ceremonial funerals”.

The ceremonies for Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002 and Margaret Thatcher in 2013 were classed as ceremonial funerals.

In a state funeral a gun carriage is used to carry the body between places which is usually followed by a military process and band along with mourners and officials.

A period of “lying in state” is also observed.

Since the 20th century a state funeral for a monarch has followed the following format:

  • Conveying the body to Westminster Hall
  • Lying in State in Westminster Hall
  • Transporting the body from Westminster to Windsor Castle
  • Funeral service and burial in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

When there is a state funeral for a distinguished person rather than a monarch the format is pretty much the same but the location of the funeral and burial will change.

Winston Churchill’s funeral took place in St Paul’s Cathedral and his body was buried at Bladon.

Will Captain Tom Moore get one?

While state funerals are usually only given to monarchs they can be given to important non-royals.

This though has to be approved both by the reigning monarch and parliament.

A petition has been started urging the government to approve a state funeral for Captain Tom Moore due to his heroic charitable efforts which raised nearly £33million for NHS charities before he died aged 100.

The petition was started by Sam Watson, from Manchester, who called Capt Tom a “much-loved hero” who had served his country during the Second World War and the coronavirus pandemic.

Watson wrote: “Covid-19 has clouded the world, but this man deserves a special send off to bring a candle to his past, present and future.”

The petition has been signed by nearly 226,000 people so far.

Some though have questioned the appropriateness of such a move during the Covid pandemic.

One NHS worker tweeted: “When a petition to provide safe & effective PPE for those caring for Covid patients on general wards only has 3,129 signatures whilst one calling for a state funeral for Captain Tom has tens of thousands, you know where this countries priorities lie[sic]! We are not expendable!”

A national “Clap for Tom” was held on February 3 at 6pm with Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking part.

Who gets a state funeral?

Monarchs are given a state funeral although high ranking officials who have served the country can also receive them.

The spouse of a monarch is not automatically entitled to a state funeral.

The last state funeral in the UK for a monarch was in 1952 for George VI although former prime minister Winston Churchill received one in 1965.

People who have received a state funeral, who have not been monarchs, include Sir Isaac Newton and Lord Nelson, as well as Churchill.

Former prime minister Benjamin Disraeli was offered a state funeral but he declined in his will.

Margaret Thatcher was given a ceremonial funeral with full military honours, which was authorised by Queen Elizabeth II with the funeral taking place at St Paul’s Cathedral.

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