Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: national events and ceremonies

Updated 8 May 2015

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/marking-relevant-national-events-and-ceremonies. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.


The government is involved with a number of national events and ceremonies including some ceremonial duties for HM The Queen, as our head of state, and the royal family. These events have a high profile and significance for the country and it is important that they are carried out to the highest standards.


First World War Centenary

In 2014 we will begin to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Within government, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is responsible for organising these commemorations, along with colleagues from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Imperial War Museums and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Remembrance Sunday

DCMS co-ordinates the arrangements for Remembrance Sunday, which is held annually at 11am on the second Sunday in November.

Major royal events

Within government, DCMS is responsible for preparing ceremonial routes at London and Windsor for state visits, certain other major royal events, like funerals, and making sure flags are flown at major state occasions such as Trooping the Colour.

We are also responsible for providing facilities for the media at these events.

Designated days for Union Flag flying

There are no rules on legal restrictions on what flags you can fly. DCMS is responsible for informing UK government departments (though not devolved government departments) about designated flag flying days. These include royal birthdays and anniversaries, and national celebration days.


Britain is a constitutional monarchy and HM The Queen is our Head of State. You can find more information on the official website of the British monarchy.

The honours system recognises the achievements of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. We accept nominations from the public all year round. Honours lists are announced twice every year, at the New Year and on the Queen’s birthday in June.

Appendix 1: First World War Centenary

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. To honour and remember the lives of those who served and were affected by the war we are leading a national centenary programme of commemoration events, cultural activity, education and local community engagement across the UK.

We want people to find out how the First World War shaped our society today and continues to touch our lives at a personal level, in our local communities and as a nation. Stay up to date with the latest news on our plans via our dedicated First World War Centenary homepage.

We are working with Heritage Lottery Fund, Imperial War Museums, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) and others to commemorate the centenary.

The centenary programme is focussed within 3 key areas:


The Government is leading the nation in acts of commemoration 6 key dates during 2014-2018:

  • 4 August 2014 – we will host events in Glasgow, London and Belgium to mark the centenary of entry of the British Empire to the War
  • 25 April 2015 – commemorative event to mark the Gallipoli campaign
  • 31 May/1 June 2016 – commemorative event marking the Battle of Jutland commemorating the war at sea
  • 1 July 2016 – commemorative event marking the Battle of the Somme at Thiepval Memorial, France
  • 31 July 2017 – commemorative event marking the start of the 3rd Battle Ypres (Passchendaele) at Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium
  • 11 November 2018 – commemorative activity marking Armistice Day

Community engagement and education

Communities can also commemorate the centenary through a range of projects including:

There are also a number of community focussed projects and events being led by Imperial War Museums and English Heritage.

Find out more about how you can get involved.


We have launched a £10 million UK-wide cultural programme. Led by Jenny Waldman, the programme and will work with cultural organisations and partners across Britain to deliver four years of commemorations. Find out more about the plans on the 14-18 NOW website.

Appendix 2: Remembrance Sunday

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

At 11am on Sunday 9 November, the National Service of Remembrance will be held at the Cenotaph on Whitehall to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.

DCMS co-ordinates the arrangements for this event, alongside colleagues from across government, the Armed Forces and veterans’ organisations.

Attending and taking part
  • 09:00: Royal British Legion (RBL) detachments form up on Horse Guards Parade and in Whitehall
  • 10:00: All detachments march out from Wellington Barracks
  • 11:00: Two minutes silence marked by the firing of guns from Kings Troop, on Horse Guards Parade. Cenotaph Service commences
  • 11:25: Cenotaph Service concludes and RBL detachments disperse past the Cenotaph

Read the 2014 Order of Service .

No passes or tickets are required by members of the public, who can watch the ceremony from the pavements along Whitehall and Parliament Street. On the day, orders of Service are distributed on Whitehall by the Scouts to members of the public.

Whitehall is opened to the public at 8:00am. We advise members of the public to arrive early if they wish to secure a good viewing place. Those attending are advised not to bring suitcases or large bags as space is limited. Security in the area remains tight, so please ensure that you allow time to clear the police security procedures.

Temporary public toilets will be located in Whitehall Place. First aid facilities, provided by St John’s Ambulance, will be available at various locations along Whitehall, whilst their personnel will also be patrolling the area.

A space will be available for wheelchair users and other spectators who might find it difficult to view from the general public areas. This area is located on the west side of Parliament Street, close to the junction with King Charles Street. Space in this enclosure will be offered on a first come, first served, basis only. One carer or guest per person will also be admitted and a toilet for the use of disabled people will be available nearby. DCMS volunteers will be present to assist.

There will be video screens north of the Cenotaph, near the green outside the main Ministry of Defence building, mounted outside the Scotland Office and another on the roadway.

Photography is permitted, but the Metropolitan Police have powers to remove obstacles (such as camera tripods) where they obstruct public access or views. We ask spectators not to take photographs during the 2 minute silence when shutter noises can offend.

Those wishing to take part in the official march past should contact the Royal British Legion which organises the march itself.

Appendix 3: centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Gallipoli Campaign is one of the key centenaries being marked by national ceremonial events as part of the First World War commemorations. More than 550,000 Allied troops participated, and it is right that we recognise the sacrifices made by people from so many countries during the Campaign to show our gratitude and respect. It is also right that we remember the bravery shown by the Turkish forces who also sustained significant losses.

London commemorations

There will be a service in London on Saturday 25 April 2015 at the Cenotaph on Whitehall followed by a march past led by military personnel. The High Commissions of Australia and New Zealand hold an event here each year. With their kind permission and collaboration, the event this year to mark the centenary is being led by the UK Government.

How to take part - general public

The service will start at 11am.There are two public viewing areas and space for wheelchair users. All areas will open at 8:00am and will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Public viewing areas:

  • The Parliament Street pavement between King Charles Street and Great George Street at the Parliament Square end of Whitehall. Access will be from the junction of Parliament Square and Bridge Street
  • The pavement on Whitehall from the junction of Whitehall and Downing Street northwards. Access will be through Whitehall Place. There may also be limited space around Parliament Square itself.

Space for wheelchair users:

  • Disabled access is available on the west side of Parliament Street, close with the junction with King Charles Street. Access via Parliament Square/Bridge Street junction.

Video screens will show live coverage and Orders of Service will be distributed on the day. Photography is permitted although spectators are asked not to take photographs during the 2 minute silence.

Gallipoli descendants

Descendants of those who fought in the campaign will form a central part of the commemoration. Successful applicants to march or to view the event from the reserved descendant viewing area will be sent information about their attendance by 10 April. Their viewing area will be the pavement opposite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Applications are now closed.

Turkey commemorations

There will be a Commonwealth and Ireland Commemoration Service on Friday 24 April 2015 at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Cape Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey. Due to the restricted nature of the site, this event is not open to members of the public.

Anzac Day commemorations

On 25 April each year,  Australians and New Zealanders commemorate Anzac Day, in honour of the ANZACs who died during the landings at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles, and all those who subsequently fell in the First World War, and in all conflicts since. It is commemorated as a public holiday in both countries with memorial ceremonies  in almost every town and city in both countries and at locations throughout the world where Australians and New Zealanders gather. It has expanded to commemorate all Australian and New Zealand fallen in military operations and peacekeeping arrangements.

On Saturday 25 April 2015, there will be 3 commemorative ceremonies in London: a Dawn Service at Hyde Park Corner, a service at The Cenotaph and a service at Westminster Abbey.

Read details of these ceremonies and services in other parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland on the Gallipoli Association, Australian and New Zealand embassy websites.

Read more information on the Australian and New Zealand programmes of Centenary Commemorations.