Half-mast means the flag is flown two/thirds of the way up the flagpole, with at least the height of the flag between the top of the flag and the top of the flagpole. Flags cannot be flown at half-mast on poles that are more than 45 degrees from the vertical, but a mourning cravat can be used instead (see the Flag Institute’s website for further detail).
When a flag is to be flown at half-mast, it should first be raised all the way to the top of the mast, allowed to remain there for a second and then be lowered to the half-mast position. When it is being lowered from half-mast, it should again be raised to the top of the mast for a second before being fully lowered.
When a British national flag is at half-mast, other flags on the same stand of poles should also be at half-mast or should not be flown at all. Flags of foreign nations should not be flown, unless their country is also observing mourning.
More information in regards to flying a flag at half mast can be found via Flag Institute here.
These specific occasions are when flags must be flown at half-mast:
- From the announcement of the death until the funeral, except on Proclamation Day when flags are flown at full-mast once the Proclamation has been read.
- From the announcement of the death until the funeral of a member of the Royal Family known as ‘Royal Highness’, subject to special commands from the Sovereign in each case.
- On the day of the announcement of the death and on the day of the funeral of other members of the Royal Family, subject to special commands from the Sovereign in each case.
- The funerals of Prime Minsters, ex-Prime Ministers and foreign Rulers.