Crematorium bans Union flag draped over World War II veteran's coffin

Crematorium is slammed after it banned Union flag being draped over World War II veteran’s coffin because of ‘Covid rules’

  • Major Frank Clark’s family told they couldn’t have flag by Southend Crematorium
  • They said the ban on flags, as is customary for veterans, was due to ‘Covid rules’
  • Major Clark’s funeral will instead held at Basildon and District Crematorium

A crematorium has been slammed for telling the family of a 96-year-old WW2 veteran they can’t drape a Union Flag over his coffin because of ‘Covid rules’. 

Major Frank Clark’s family were devastated when Southend Crematorium, Essex, said they wouldn’t be allowed to put the flag over his coffin – as is customary for members of the Armed forces.

The crematorium said this was due to ‘Covid rules’ and they couldn’t change protocol, even if whoever drapes the flag wears gloves and PPE.

Major Clark’s funeral will instead held at Basildon and District Crematorium, where permission for a Union Flag has been granted.

The funeral home has been blasted by a local councillor, who called it ‘an insult not to have a flag’.

Southend Council has insisted it is in full support of having Union Flag at funerals – but said funeral directors can make their own rules as ‘private companies’.


Major Frank Clark’s (left, while serving, and right) family were devastated when Southend Crematorium, Essex, said they wouldn’t be allowed to put the flag over his coffin – as is customary for members of the Armed forces

Councillor Stephen Aylen said: ‘It’s an insult not to have a flag. They’ve served, particularly a person who’s a hero. A serving soldier.

‘To not allow him to have a flag, I was seriously confused.’

Mr Aylen was informed that funeral directors had been ordered by crematorium staff that flags were no longer permitted to be draped over veterans’ coffins.

He called the crematorium to query the policy. 

Mr Aylen added: ‘I said “Captain Tom had a flag” but he was adamant and would not back down under Covid rules.’

Mr Aylen suggested the person who drapes the flag wear gloves and PPE – but the crematorium wouldn’t budge. 

The family instead opted for the funeral to take place at Basildon and District Crematorium, who were happy to drape a flag over Major Clark’s coffin.

Mr Aylen said he was concerned the vulnerable, elderly and grieving family members subjected to the rules.

The crematorium (pictured) said this was due to ‘Covid rules’ and they couldn’t change protocol, even if whoever drapes the flag wears gloves and PPE

The councillor added: ‘What really hurt me was that servicemen had gone through Southend Crematorium who hadn’t been allowed flags.

‘Can you imagine a wife phoning up who’s 90-odd, or even anyone who has just been bereaved and being treated like that?

‘You’d just say “Oh, okay” because you’re in a state of shock. It’s just unacceptable.’

A Southend Council spokesperson said: ‘Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are fully supportive of the use of flags at funeral services and there are no restrictions on flags in place.

‘We are contacting funeral directors who are authorised to use our services to ensure they are aware of our stance on items on coffins.

‘As private companies, funeral directors will have their own processes in place which could limit the use of flags but this is down to the funeral director and not the council. We have also reminded relevant teams within the council.

‘Although we did not have direct contact with the family, we are sorry that they received contradictory advice to this.’ 

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