Funeral etiquette is dying out as more than one in four people admit to not paying their respects to a passing procession, according to research* released today (Tuesday 18 October).

A study by The Co-operative Funeralcare, the UK’s largest funeral director**, has revealed that generations of people are unaware of traditional funeral etiquette and show no courtesy to funeral corteges – with teenagers and those aged up to their mid-forties the most likely to be ill mannered.

The research found that those in their late twenties and early thirties were the most oblivious to funeral traditions and etiquette while Scots remained the most courteous.

Almost one in three (29.1%) of those aged 18 to 44 years old were unaware of the unwritten rules for funeral processions. In contrast, one in eight (12.4%) of those aged 65 or above adhered to funeral traditions.

Over half of those questioned (51%) by The Co-operative Funeralcare were unaware of etiquette such as workers stopping by the roadside as a funeral procession passed. Pedestrians (43.7 per cent) would no longer ‘doth’ their cap as a sign of respect or stop what they were doing (37.9 per cent) for a passing funeral cortege.

These findings are independently backed by the views of funeral directors from The Co-operative Funeralcare, with almost three-quarters of staff having witnessed an increase in discourteous behaviour even within the last five years. Earlier in the year, The Co-operative Funeralcare reported that instances of road rage against funeral processions were on the increase.

David Collingwood, National Operations Director, The Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “There has been much talk since the riots this summer about attitudes and respect within society and we have seen a significant shift over the years away from people observing the unwritten rules of funeral etiquette.

“Many people ignore a passing funeral procession and it is not uncommon for pedestrians to purposely disrupt a cortege by using a pelican crossing to stop funeral cars or even cross the road between funeral cars.

“Our research has highlighted generations of people who are unaware of the traditions and etiquette which were once commonplace for people to show to a passing funeral.”

He added: “The days of workers stopping what they were doing to mark a passing a procession or people removing their hats and bowing their heads has long gone.”

Top three countries/regions that show the greatest respect:

  1. Scotland
  2. Northern Ireland
  3. Northern England

Regions/countries least likely to follow funeral etiquette

  1. Midlands
  2. South East England
  3. South West England

Note to editors:

*Research carried out online by Your Say Pays between 4-28 January 2011. There were 2088 responses.

**The Co-operative Funeralcare is the UK’s leading funeral director, conducting over 100,000 funerals per year at more than 880 funeral homes nationwide.

  • David Collingwood, Operations Director for The Co-operative Funeralcare is available for interview.
  • For more information about The Co-operative Funeralcare visit

For further information please contact:

Craig Noonan

Public Relations Manager – Specialist Retail

The Co-operative Group

Tel: 0161 266 3589 / 07702 505439