SA flag not half-masted at London High Commission for royal funeral

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In what is termed “a major sign of disrespect” the South African High Commission in London kept the national flag flying last Saturday during Prince Phillip’s funeral.

“The decision to fly the flag at full mast could be taken as either an insult or political statement by the United Kingdom,” Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of international relations and co-operation Darren Bergman said in a statement.

He has taken up the flag issue with the director general, listed as Kgabo Mahoai on the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) website.

“It was a major sign of disrespect to the people of the United Kingdom, the British royal family and the Commonwealth countries mourning the passing of Prince Philip during his funeral on Saturday (April 17),” he said in a statement.

“I will write to DIRCO to understand why this embarrassing incident was allowed to happen; what steps will be taken to rectify any misunderstandings that may have occurred and to discipline the officials involved.

“The DA and DA Abroad field numerous complaints about ineffective, unfriendly and slow service at the South Africa High Commission in London. A previous oversight visit pertaining to problems at this mission seem to not have yielded any improvements.

“South Africa needs to understand the United Kingdom is the host country of our mission in London and we need to be respectful of diplomatic protocols especially during a time of mourning.”

The gov.uk site issued guidance on flag flying to mark the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on 9 April. It states, among others, “non-official flags (excluding the Union Jack, ships’ colours, union flags, ensigns and any national flag) are to be half-masted as soon as possible today until 08h00 the day following the funeral”.