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It’s official: The funeral of late former head of state Arthur NR Robinson will be on Thursday May 1 within a five-day period of mourning between April 29 to May 3. National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday confirmed Robinson’s funeral service will be held on May 1 at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain. That venue was chosen above the Trinity Cathedral and the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Griffith, chairman of a planning team, outlined the programme for the five days.
A decision is yet to be made on where Robinson’s body will lie in state for the first two days of the five-day period of mourning—whether the Parliament at the Waterfront centre or the rotunda of the Red House on Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain. NAPA was also being considered, but this was eliminated. Whichever venue is decided, that aspect of the programme will be on April 29 and Wednesday April 30 from 6 am to 6 pm.
Guests, dignitaries, officials, and members of the public will be allowed to pay their respects by filing past the flag-draped, unopened casket. Griffith said a state ecumenical service will be held on the morning of May 1 at NAPA, preceded by the procession of a Military Cortege along a route to be lined by members of the protective services and uniformed youth groups. Invitations are being issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and office of the President.
Following the service, the body will lie in state in the Eastern NAPA lobby until 3 pm. The body wil be airlifted to Tobago by the T&T Air Guard. It will also lie in state at the Legislative Chamber of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Scarborough, Tobago, on Friday 2nd May, 2014 between 6.00 am and 6.00 pm. Government yesterday stated consideration must be given to the identification of a suitable location for a State cemetery, as the final resting place for deceased persons who have been accorded State funerals.
King George V Memorial Park on St Clair Avenue, Memorial Park at the corner of Frederick Street and The Botanical Gardens have been suggested as possible locations for the State cemetery at which all Presidents, Prime Ministers and former holders of these posts will be buried. It was noted that the Botanical Gardens may be the most appropriate given its previous use and its relatively large area.
About a state funeral
In a state funeral the body is carried on a gun-carriage, with full military honours including a 21-gun salute and the body lies in state before being escorted to the place where the funeral service will be held. The national flag is also placed over the coffin. A Caisson or horse-drawn gun carriage is used to carry the body of the deceased. A Caparisoned Horse or rider-less horse, with the boots of the deceased placed in the stirrups turned towards the rear is also used.
Where the body will lie in state, a framed photo of the deceased will be placed alongside with a bouquet of flowers, condolence book and pen. Invitations will be colour coded to make identification of categories of guests easier and to assist with seating.
Details of the funeral
Following the service, the body will lie in State in the Eastern NAPA lobby until 3 pm. The body wil be airlifted to Tobago by the T&T Air Guard. It will also lie in state at the Legislative Chamber of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Scarborough, Tobago, on Friday 2nd May, 2014 between 6.00 am and 6.00 pm.
Following this, a thanksgiving service in honour of Robinson’s life will be held on the morning of May 3 in Scarborough, at a venue to be announced followed by burial at Scarborough Methodist Cemetery with full military honours. The location was chosen by Robinson’s family.