Lady Thatcher’s final journey will take her from the House of Commons, the political home she bestrode for more than three decades, to a service at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Details of the ceremonial funeral with military honours are understood to have been mapped out in talks between government officials and Baroness Thatcher more than five years ago.ormer Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Nancy Reagan, wife of her closest ally US President Ronald Reagan, are expected to lead a list of international mourners.Every living Prime Minister – Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron – plus the Cabinet and shadow cabinet will also attend the service, which is expected on either Wednesday or Thursday next week.
Yesterday, as flags flew at half-mast from London to Port Stanley in the Falklands and Washington DC, well-wishers lay tributes at the Iron Lady’s Belgravia home in Central London.The evening before her funeral, Lady Thatcher’s coffin will rest in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster. There will be a short service following its arrival.On the day itself, the streets will be cleared of traffic and the coffin will travel by hearse to the Church of St Clement Danes, the RAF Chapel, on the Strand.
At the church the coffin will be transferred to a gun carriage drawn by horses of the King’s Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery, the Queen’s ceremonial Saluting Battery which is stationed at Woolwich in South-East London.The funeral cortege will pass up Whitehall, through Trafalgar Square, along the Strand, round Aldwych and then up Ludgate Hill to St Paul’s.Serving members of all three Armed Forces will line the route along with an expected throng of tens of thousands of members of the public.
When the procession reaches the steps of St Paul’s it will be met by another military guard of honour and Chelsea pensioners.Lady Thatcher’s family yesterday urged well-wishers not to send flowers but to send donations to the Royal Hospital in Chelsea where the pensioners live.After the official funeral ceremony there will be a separate private family event as Lady Thatcher is cremated in Mortlake, South West London.The costs of the funeral will be shared by the Government and Lady Thatcher’s estate.
Government departments like the Ministry of Defence will pick up the tab for their own contributions. It was estimated that the Queen Mother’s funeral cost £6million.A No 10 spokesman said: ‘All the arrangements being put in place are in line with the wishes of Lady Thatcher’s family.’Friends say the former PM told them she did not wish her body to lie in state.Family spokesman Lord Bell said: ‘She specifically did not want a state funeral…and she didn’t want a fly-past as she thought that was a waste of money – somewhat in character you might think.