15 Apr 2013

Troops rehearse for Thatcher funeral procession

A full military rehearsal for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral took place in the early hours of this morning through the streets of London.

Troops marched through the capital, following a Union flag-draped coffin early this morning in preparations for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.

The practice run followed the planned route for Wednesday’s ceremony with funeral marches played along the route. Major Andrew Chatburn, who is choreographing the parade, said the morning “went very well”.

More than 700 serving armed forces personnel took part, with a horse-drawn gun carriage travelling from St Clement Danes, the church of the Royal Air Force, through the Strand to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Major Chatburn explained: “Timings are most important. We will learn something quite significant this morning about the timings, and to familiarise the troops of their duties.

“Bearing in mind these are sailors, soldiers and airmen who have come in to do this specific task from their routine duties, so it’s new to them.

“They need to see the ground as well so they can get a feel for how it’s going to go and they can perform their duties with confidence on the day.

Read: The Queen and Clarkson among Thatcher funeral guests

During the rehearsal military and police wore their working dress and high visibility clothes respectively, but on Wednesday they will be in ceremonial uniform.

Pensioners from the Royal Hospital Chelsea did not take part this morning because of the early start. They will line the west steps of St Paul’s later this week.

Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans MP defended the cost of the funeral claiming the Bishop of Grantham, the Rev Dr Tim Ellis, had “got it wrong” over the finances of the event.

“I do not know where the £10m figure has come from. It is going to be substantial sums, but when you have got the Queen and other world leaders coming in for this funeral, then you are always going to have substantial security costs,” he told ITV Daybreak.