Thatcher to get rare ceremonial funeral

  • AFP, London
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 09, 2013 07:59 IST

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher will receive the high honour of a ceremonial funeral with military honours, Downing Street announced on Monday.

The funeral at St Paul's Cathedral in London is expected to take place next week, with international leaders and a wide range of people connected to the baroness likely to attend.

A ceremonial funeral is a rare honour, only slightly lower in rank to the full-blown state funerals afforded to monarchs and a few exceptionally distinguished individuals.

The last ceremonial funerals were for queen Elizabeth, the queen mother, in 2002 and for Diana, princess of Wales in 1997, and both were grand state occasions.

"Downing Street can announce that, with the queen's consent, Lady Thatcher will receive a ceremonial funeral with military honours. The service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral," Prime Minister David Cameron's office said.

A private cremation will follow later, it said.

The last state funeral was that of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill in 1965, which was also held at St Paul's Cathedral.

The funeral is being held in line with Thatcher's wishes, with a role for the armed forces and the public able to watch the two-mile (three-kilometre) coffin procession to the cathedral.

The funeral date has not been set.

The day before, her coffin will be moved to a chapel in the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, to which she was first elected in 1959.

There will be a short service and the coffin will rest in the chapel overnight, Downing Street said.

On the day of the funeral, the streets will be cleared of traffic and the coffin will travel by hearse to the Church of St Clement Danes, the Royal Air Force's central church, which lies just outside the City of London boundary.

It will then be transferred to a gun carriage and troops will line the route to St Paul's Cathedral, where it will be met by a guard of honour.

The public cannot attend the funeral but will be able to line the procession route.

Troops from the army, navy and air force will bear the coffin into the cathedral.

The guests are expected to include her family and friends, and those who worked with her in Downing Street, including her ministers.

Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg will attend, and the cabinet and shadow cabinet will be invited, Downing Street said.

Flags will be flown at half-mast at Downing Street. The prime minister's office was to set up an Internet page where people can pay tribute to the former premier.

Thatcher's family have asked people to make donations to the Royal Hospital Chelsea rather than laying flowers outside her home.


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