Government plans state funeral for Panday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this July 3, 2023 file photo, former prime minister Basdeo Panday, right, makes a point to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, left, in a light moment with St Vincent Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, centre, during a reception for Caricom leaders at President’s House, St Ann’s. – File photo

THERE will be a state funeral for former prime minister Basdeo Panday.

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) made this announcement in a statement on January 2.

Panday died in the US on January 1. He had travelled to the US for medical treatment in mid-December.

The OPM’s statement said, “Mr Panday was the fifth prime minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and served in that capacity from November 9th, 1995 to December 24th, 2001. A state funeral will be held in honour of the late former prime minister.”

The OPM added that further details would be provided at a later date.

State funerals were held for two of Panday’s predecessors – Patrick Manning (July 9, 2016) and Arthur NR Robinson (May 2, 2014).

By definition, a state funeral is a public funeral ceremony that observes strict rules of protocol and is held to honour people of national significance. State funerals usually include much pomp and ceremony as well as religious overtones and distinctive elements of military tradition.

In Commonwealth nations such as TT, state funerals are reserved for people such as prime ministers, presidents, governors general and cabinet ministers. They are held over a period of several days which allows the public to mourn the deceased.

They involve lowering the national flag to half-mast on all days leading up to the actual ceremony, the body of the deceased lying in state for viewing by dignitaries and members of the public, and the funeral ceremony at the end of the designated period of national mourning.

Robinson’s funeral lasted five days. His body lay in state in the legislative chamber of the Tobago House of Assembly in Scarborough before his funeral on May 2, 2014.

Manning’s body lay in state at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) on July 7 and 8, 2016.