Margaret Thatcher Funeral: programme guide and ceremony details
Former British PM Margaret Thatcher will be given a funeral ceremony with full military honors before a private cremation on Wednesday, April 17.
Officials and politicians from around the world will be in London to pay their last respects to Britain’s first female prime minister.
Margaret Thatcher died at Ritz Hotel in London on Monday, April 8, after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 87.
The former prime minister will be honored with a ceremonial service with full military honors, with politicians, former world leaders and cultural figures in the congregation.
Although not officially a state funeral, in accordance with Margaret Thatcher’s wishes when making her funeral plans, the announcement of the lavish state-funded ceremony has brought a fierce backlash.
The ceremony will take place on Wednesday April 17, with the service due to start at 11 a.m.
The service is being held at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, at Margaret Thatcher’s request. Attendance is by invitation only. It will be followed by a private cremation in Mortlake, south west London.
A funeral procession will travel through the streets of London, first in a hearse and then on a gun carriage, from the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster to the cathedral just under two miles away, with members of the armed services lining the route.
Margaret Thatcher’s coffin will be taken by a hearse from the Palace of Westminster to the RAF Chapel, the church of St Clement Danes, in the Strand.
From there the coffin will be transferred to a gun carriage drawn by the King’s Troop Royal Artillery.
The impressive cortege will then proceed down the Strand, through Aldwych, then along the entire length of Fleet Street before rising up Ludgate Hill to the majestic St Paul’s Cathedral.
Will Margaret Thatcher’s funeral be broadcasted?
BBC1 will be showing live coverage from 9.15 a.m. to 12.15 p.m.
Who will be at St Paul’s Cathedral?
According to Downing Street, 2,000 invitations are being sent out, with guests including former prime ministers, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Lord Archer and Jeremy Clarkson.
Margaret Thatcher’s children, Carol and Mark, will lead the mourners.
Queen Elizabeth II will attend, accompanied by Prince Philip. It is the first time the Queen has attended the funeral of one of her former Prime Ministers since Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral in 1965.
Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and top British politicians will be invited. Former PMs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and their wives Cherie and Sarah have confirmed they will be attending, as has Margaret Thatcher’s successor in No. 10 Sir John Major.
Singers Dame Shirley Bassey and Katherine Jenkins, actor Michael Crawford, composer Lord Lloyd-Webber and lyricist Tim Rice are also due to attend the service.
Others on the guest list include Joan Collins, broadcasters Sir Terry Wogan, Sir Trevor McDonald and Sir David Frost, fashion designer Anya Hindmarch and sitcom queen June Whitfield.
Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa, will also be there as a guest of the family.
However, Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader defeated by Lady Thatcher at the 1987 election, has said he will not be attending.
Ten members of staff from the Ritz Hotel, where Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, have also been invited to her funeral as thanks for the care she received. She had been staying at the five-star hotel since Christmas.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has announced he will not attend the ceremony due to health problems. Former US First Lady Nancy Reagan, whose husband Ronald worked closely with Margaret Thatcher as the Cold War drew to an end, said she was “heartbroken” over Lady Thatcher’ death but could not attend due to her age.
How much is Margaret Thatcher’s funeral going to cost and who is going to pay?
The funeral is expected to cost up to £10 million (about $16 million) with the taxpayer bearing the brunt of the costs. It has been confirmed a “contribution” to the cost of the funeral will be made from Margaret Thatcher’s estate. The official cost to the public purse will be released after the service has taken place.
The security operation alone is set to cost £5 million ($8 million). Police across London have been ordered to cancel any leave they had planned for Operation True Blue on Wednesday.
There could be more than 4,000 officers and 2,000 troops lining the route. Hundreds of specialist police will be working on counter-terrorism measures, with others carefully monitoring CCTV cameras for trouble spots.
Every corner of the route will be checked by sniffer dogs, with sewers and drains closed.
Military personnel from the RAF, Navy and Army will line the route from Westminster to St Paul’s. Margaret Thatcher’s coffin will travel part of the way by hearse before being transferred to a gun carriage at the Church of St Clement Danes, the RAF Chapel, on the Strand. The gun carriage will be drawn by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. Six horses will draw the carriage, three of them mounted, with a sergeant riding alongside, an officer riding in front and three dismounted troops on foot.
Margaret Thatcher’s funeral ceremony will have a Falklands theme.
A Bearer Party made up of all three services will walk alongside the coffin, and will include those from ships, units and stations notable for their service during the Falklands Campaign. Members will be taken from the Royal Navy/Royal Marines; the Scots Guards; the Welsh Guards; the Royal Artillery; the Royal Engineers; the Parachute Regiment; the Royal Gurkha Rifles; and the RAF.
Three military bands will play – their drums draped in black as a mark of respect.
A guard of Chelsea Pensioners, dressed in their traditional red tunics, will line the steps of St Paul’s as her coffin is carried in by bearers from units particularly associated with the Falklands War.
More than 700 Armed Forces personnel drawn from all three services will take part. Members of the Welsh Guards, the regiment that suffered some of the heaviest losses during the Falklands conflict, will be among the units involved, taking on roles including the coffin bearer party, lining the route the procession will take, and forming a Guard of Honour outside St Paul’s.
Guns will be fired from the Tower of London but there will be no fly-past – as Margaret Thatcher herself requested.
How will Margaret Thatcher’s funeral affect travel in London?
Motorists are being advised to avoid Westminster and the City of London on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday, April 17.
On the same day a number of roads will be closed and some bus services will be diverted, Transport for London (TfL) said.
Blackfriars and Westminster bridges will be closed and some Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations will be suspended. But all Tube, London Overground and Docklands Light Railway services will run normally.
The bus diversions will begin from 6 a.m. and the road closures from around 7 a.m. Among roads that will be closed will be The Strand, Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, Whitehall, Kingsway and The Mall.
What’s the dress code at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral?
Guests at the funeral will be asked to wear full day ceremonial dress without swords, morning dress with a black waistcoat and black tie or dark suit, day dress with hat. Medals and decorations may be worn.
What are the invitations like?
Invitations have been sent out on Friday, April 12. The white VIP invitations will see guests seated under the Cathedral’s famous dome. A red or green stripe will show whether they are to sit on the port or starboard side. Other invitations are color-coded relating to where guests are to be seated in the cathedral.
Margaret Thatcher’s funeral – more details
Flags will be flown at half mast on UK government buildings and British embassies from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of the funeral.
The working title for the funeral’s operation plan is True Blue – which has drawn criticism from Labour’s Andy Burnham for politicising the event.
Margaret Thatcher requested there should not be a fly-past as she considered it a waste of money.
Baroness Thatcher’s family has asked that if people wish to pay their respects, they consider making a donation to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, rather than laying flowers.
Margaret Thatcher’s love of Edward Elgar’s classical music – especially Pomp and Circumstance – is expected to be reflected in the service.
Downing Street website will have a condolence page on which people will be able to write private messages for the Thatcher family.
The public will be unable to attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral service itself but can line the route of the funeral procession from the RAF Church in the Strand to St Paul’s Cathedral.