Explained: Why New Zealand's flags aren't flying at half-mast for Prince Philip

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern penned her respects to the Duke of Edinburgh on Monday, honouring what she described as a lifetime of service. 

"Just acknowledging on behalf of all New Zealanders what it means to dedicate your life in a role that means you really sacrifice a lot in order to serve," she told reporters. 

The Queen's representative in New Zealand, Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, followed suit by signing the book of condolences at the Beehive. 

A date for New Zealand's memorial service has been announced: Wednesday, April 21 at 3pm - the same day as the Queen's 95th birthday. 

It raises questions about the appropriateness of holding a memorial for the Queen's husband on the day of her birthday. 

"It was the closest proximity to the funeral that we were able to hold that event," Ardern said on Monday. "Look, no one wants anyone to be in a state of grief at the time of their birthday - no one."

Protocol is everything when it comes to the monarchy and although the Queen and Britain are in the official mourning period, the Beehive flag returned to full-mast on Monday, as has the flag at Government House - even at Sunday's 41 gun salute.

While the flag was flying high, at the High Court, Te Papa and the British High Commission, all the flags were lowered to half-mast - a sign of respect for the dead. 

"We have different legislation around our flags," Ardern said, when asked why New Zealand has not lowered our flags for the whole week.

Half-mast is the recommended protocol. The Royal College of Arms, the authority on flag protocol, issued the instruction that all official flags be half-masted until 8am on the day after the funeral - that's 7pm on Sunday, New Zealand time. 

It specifically says the Governments of the Commonwealth Realms - that's us - will be following that protocol. Though it does point out it's not compulsory - our flags are dictated by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. 

Darryl Stevens of the Royal Commonwealth Society New Zealand helped to organise memorials for both Princess Diana in 1997 at a packed out Wellington Town Hall, and the Queen Mother in 2002 at the Anglican Cathedral in Wellington.

"It's a lot of work in a very short space of time," Stevens says. 

Prince Philip will be farewelled there too. 

Prince Philip's service will be especially unusual as the New Zealand event is likely to be larger than the official funeral in the UK. 

"We do have a situation where in New Zealand, we will probably have a bigger event," Stevens says, referring to Britain's COVID-19 restrictions. 

On Tuesday Parliament will rise. This only happens in extremely rare circumstances. It did so after Princess Diana's death too. 

As for the memorial, it will be a public event, but by invitation only. The public will be represented by members of the Duke's various charities. 

And no doubt the streets around the Cathedral of St Paul's in Wellington will be lined by any others wishing to pay their respects.