The Catafalque Party

catafalque party

Legend has it that the first catafalque (cat-a-falk) parties guarded important and wealthy people’s coffins from thieves and vandals.

A catafalque, normally a raised platform supporting a bier on which a coffin rests, may be represented for ceremonial purposes by a shrine or remembrance stone.

At a memorial service for a distinguished personage, which is being held at a different location or time to the actual funeral, a representation of a catafalque may be erected in the churches concerned.

A catafalque party is a guard mounted over a catafalque on any one of the following occasions:

  • during a period of lying in state,

  • during a military funeral in a church,

  • at a memorial or special occasion such as ANZAC Day or Remembrance Day, and

  • during a memorial service in a church for a recently deceased distinguished personage.

A catafalque party consists of four sentries, a waiting member in reserve and a commander.

If a catafalque party is requested to be mounted for an extended period of e.g. ‘lying in state’ then a series of ‘watches’ divided into ‘vigil’ periods will be provided.

A catafalque party must not be senior in rank to the deceased over whom it is mounted.


Thanks to the National Support Group of 55/53 AIF for allowing us to use selected information from their publication “Remember”

[Traditions, Facts and Folklore front page]

ANZAC: The origin of the acronym ‘ANZAC’
The Dawn Service
ANZAC Day Commemoration
Outline Commemoration Service for ANZAC Day
The Australian National Flag
Australia’s War Dead
Australian War Memorials
Bugle Calls
The Catafalque Party
Colours Tell the Story
The Poppy is for Sacrifice
The Rising Sun Badge
Rosemary is for Remembrance
The Military Salute
The Slouch Hat and Emu Plumes
The Victoria Cross
Words of Remembrance


Copyright © ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee (Qld) Incorporated 1998.