The Ceremonial and protocol services team delivered royally

At Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), ensuring that appropriate procedures and guidelines, also known as ceremonial protocols, are respected is the role of Ceremonial and Protocol Services. While part of the world was commemorating the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the small team of 4 in the Ceremonial and Protocol Services unit was working hard behind the scenes to ensure that all flag protocols were properly followed during this very significant event.

Normally, many months of preparation are required to organize this type of event. This time, they had only a few days. “Our main role was to offer logistical support services to Canadian Heritage for the parade and funeral service,” says Carmen Barcena, Head of the Ceremonial and Protocol Services team.

For the memorial service, the team had to install a full set of federal, provincial and territorial flags. “In flag protocol terms that means in order of entry into confederation. The order of precedence must always be respected for all events,” explains Carmen.

The Centre Block Parliament building highlighted in blue.

Her team provided barricades for street closures and crowd control, ropes and stanchions, flags, media risers and all the resources required to perform the work. “We also offered assistance to the Mayor of the City of Ottawa’s Office by installing red carpet for the set-up of the books of condolences at Ottawa City Hall.”

An unexpected event of this magnitude comes with many challenges. “We had to refocus and prioritize our work since we had several other events with overlapping deadlines going on,” Carmen mentions. From equipment availability, resource issues, to really short lead times, the team successfully overcame challenges on many fronts. “We are fortunate to have numerous partners, stakeholders and suppliers who were there to assist us.”

“It has been 70 years since we’ve lost a reigning sovereign and prepared for a royal funeral. I’ve worked many high-profile events and state funerals, but this one was significantly unique and observed by thousands and thousands of people.”

Getting ready for royalty

Jubilee flags on a flag pole with Parliament buildings in the background.

Royal tours are planned and delivered by Canadian Heritage, in collaboration with federal partners, and provincial and territorial governments. Carmen’s team coordinate ceremonial and media logistics for these kinds of events.

In May 2022, Carmen’s team got a taste of what a Royal Tour can require when Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall toured Canada. Over the course of 3 days, the esteemed guests visited 23 sites in St. John’s (Newfoundland), Ottawa (Ontario) and Yellowknife (Northwest Territories).

A Royal Tour involves a lot of work, from countless planning meetings, phone calls, emails and contracts to put in place, to site visits, dry runs and travel. Fortunately, Carmen’s team was able to count on their colleagues in the regions and on the PSPC Maintenance and Support Services Team for help.

The team provided many services in preparation for and during the tour: flag and ceremonial protocol; media logistics; advice on health and safety requirements; collaboration with security agencies for crowd control and street closures; and contracts for equipment and resources.

Precise work

Jubilee and Canadian flags on a flag pole in front of a building.

The team understands that ceremony and tradition are meaningful in our collective lives. “We pay attention to all of these things so that they not only enhance, but also bring appropriate pomp and ceremony to important events,” says Carmen. “We make sure that the flags are at the same height and aligned so that it does not create a distraction.”

Details make the difference and the combined efforts of the team are one part of larger government-wide efforts, but they make a big difference. Extensive experience, precision and efficiency ensured seamless events that reflected well on the department and on Canada.

To learn more, consult Ceremonial and Protocol Services. You can also visit Our stories for more articles about interesting PSPC people, projects and services.

Date modified: