By a Newsnet reporter
Details of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral have been announced, the service is to be held on Wednesday of next week, and will be a ceremonial occasion with a procession from Westminster to St Paul’s Cathedral in London, followed by a private cremation.
The ceremony, with full military honours, will be televised live and will be attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
A ceremonial funeral is the next highest honour to a full state funeral, which is normally reserved for the death of the monarch or a head of state. The last full state funeral in the UK was in 1965 following the death of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
In a statement Downing Street said that the date and details of Mrs Thatcher’s funeral were agreed on Tuesday morning following a “co-ordination meeting” between government and Buckingham Palace officials and Mrs Thatcher’s family. Code-named “Operation True Blue”, the ceremony will be similar style in style to the funerals of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother. The costs will be met by the government and the Thatcher estate.
Before her death, Mrs Thatcher had stated that she did not wish to lie in state, but expressed her wish for the armed forces to play a “key part” in her funeral ceremony.
On Tuesday of next week, Mrs Thatcher’s coffin will be moved to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster. There will be a short service and the body will rest in the chapel overnight.
The following day the streets will be closed to all traffic as Mrs Thatcher’s remains are ceremonially transported by hearse to the RAF chapel, St Clement Danes, on the Strand, it will then be transferred to a gun carriage and borne in procession to St Paul’s Cathedral. The gun carriage will be drawn by cavalry troops of the King’s Troop Royal Artillery. The route will be lined by members of the armed forces.
At St Paul’s, there will be a guard of honour and military personnel and Chelsea pensioners will line the steps of the cathedral. Her coffin will be carried into the cathedral by members of the armed forces.
The coffin will be met at St Paul’s by a guard of honour and will be borne into the cathedral by service personnel. An honour guard of service people and Chelsea pensioners will line the steps of the cathedral.
As well as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the service will be attended by the Prime Minister, the deputy Prime Minister, and members of the cabinet and the shadow cabinet. The guest list also includes Mrs Thatcher’s family and friends, and members of her cabinets when she was prime minister. A number of international dignitaries are also expected to be in attendence.
However the nation is far from united in grief. News of Mrs Thatcher’s death was received with elation in some quarters.
In Glasgow around three hundred people gathered in George Square in the centre of the city to celebrate the news of the former premier’s demise. George Square was the site of the 1989 protests against the unpopular poll tax, introduced by the Thatcher government. Some of those attending wore party hats and danced to a pipers. Streamers were launched into the air as a bottle of champagne was opened in a toast to her death.
Speaking to the Independent newspaper, one of those attending the celebration said:
“There are mixed emotions. I was never brought up to celebrate anyone’s death but the pain she brought to Latin America, Europe and around the world should be remembered.
“I would rather that Thatcherism was dead because she is mostly to blame for what is going on today.
“She is responsible, but not solely, for the massive gap between the rich and the poor.”
Celebrations were also held in Liverpool, Brixton, and Bristol. A number of people were arrested in Brixton and Bristol after disturbances broke out.
The Labour party has issued a statement saying party leader Ed Miliband “categorically condemns any celebration of Lady Thatcher’s death”.
The statement added:
“As he made clear yesterday she was a huge figure in British politics and on the world stage.
“While the Labour Party disagrees with much of what she did, we can respect her personal achievements.”