9 Apr 2013

Thatcher’s funeral to mix ‘the public and the private’

Baroness Thatcher is to be buried on Wednesday 17 April. The funeral will be attended by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and dignitaries from around the world.

The former Conservative prime minister, who died on Monday aged 87, will be given a ceremonial funeral with full military honours next week.

It was announced on Tuesday that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will be present at the funeral, which is also expected to be attended by dignitaries from around the world.

A Downing Street spokesman said the date of the funeral had been agreed at a co-ordination meeting with the Thatcher family and Buckingham Palace.

The funeral’s estimated £8m cost is to be shared by the government and the Thatcher estate.

But not everyone has been mourning – several people were arrested at parties held on Monday night to celebrate the Iron Lady’s demise.

State funeral ruled out

Lord Bell, Lady Thathcher’s friend and adviser, said: “She specifically did not want a state funeral and nor did her family. She particularly did not wish to lie in state as she thought that was not appropriate.

“And she didn’t want a fly-past as she thought that was a waste of money – somewhat in character you might think.

“She expressed those views to me personally and she will get what she wanted.”

Number 10 said a wide range of friends and colleagues would be invited to a televised service at St Paul’s, which will be followed by a private cremation.

The day before the funeral the coffin will be transferred to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster.

There will be a short service following its arrival before the coffin rests in the chapel overnight.

Public to line route

A Downing Street statement said: “On the day itself, the streets will be cleared of traffic and the coffin will travel by hearse from the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster to the Church of St Clement Danes, the RAF Chapel, on the Strand.”

The public will be unable to attend the funeral service itself but can line the route of the funeral procession from the RAF Church in the Strand to St Paul’s Cathedral.

The statement went on: “At the church the coffin will be transferred to a gun carriage drawn by the King’s Troop Royal Artillery. The coffin will then be borne in procession from St Clement Danes to St Paul’s Cathedral. The route will be lined by tri-service military personnel.”

The route from the Church of St Clement Danes will be lined by personnel from the RAF, navy and army before it is met at St Paul’s by a guard of honour. Members of the armed services and pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea will line the steps of St Paul’s.

Falklands praise for ‘our Churchill’

The military honours reflect Lady Thatcher’s status as a war leader who led the country during the Falklands crisis in 1982. About 650 Argentines and 255 Britons were killed in the conflict.

The government of Argentina, which was defeated by British forces after the 74-day war, has made no official response to the news of her death.

It provoked a mixed reaction among individual Argentinians. Some called Lady Thatcher a “war criminal” on Twitter while one resident of Buenos Aires said: “For me she was an English patriot and if we had had various Margaret Thatchers here the islands would still be ours.”

In the Falklands, where flags flew at half-staff, the head of the local legislative assembly said it was a day of great sadness and another resident praised her as “our Winston Churchill.”