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04.10.13

Thatcher’s Funeral to Have Falkland’s Theme

PM’s office says coffin bearer party will ‘include current service personal from ships, units and regiments notable for their service in the Falklands campaign.”

Baroness Thatcher’s funeral will have a Falklands War theme, with clear reminders of the 1982 conflict which defined Thatcher's rule and claimed the lives of 255 Britons and 649 Argentinians.

Downing Street announced today that more than 700 armed forces personnel will take part in  the final farewell to Thatcher.

Her coffin will be carried into into St. Paul's Cathedral by bearers from units particularly associated with the Falklands War.

Members of the Welsh Guards—the regiment that suffered some of the heaviest losses during the Falklands conflict when 32 soldiers were among 48 British troops killed when the Sir Galahad landing ship was bombed by Argentinian jets—will play a key role.

According to the U.K.'s Independent, the 10 coffin bearers will be drawn from the Royal Marines, the Scots Guards, the Welsh Guards, the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Gurkha Rifles, and the RAF.

Although the decision to highlight the Falklands War will be popular at home, it will be particularly controversial outside the U.K. as Argentina has recently stepped up its claims to the islands which it calls Las Malvinas again. The U.S. has pointedly refused to endorse the U.K. position of refusing to negotiate with the Argentinean government about the islands.

The 1982 war to claim back the Falkland Islands following a surprise Argentinian invasion transformed Lady Thatcher’s political fortunes and helped her secure a landslide victory at the 1983 general election. 

According to the Independent, "Some Labour eyebrows were raised at the decision to have such a clear reminder of the war at next week’s funeral because it. “There is a fine line that the organisers should be wary of crossing,” said one Labour MP.

Dr Giles Fraser, who resigned as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s in 2011 over plans to evict Occupy movement protestors, told the paper: "It can't be sort of Elgar and flag-waving, it has to be something less triumphalist than that.”

Asked by the Independent if Lady Thatcher had requested the funeral of a “war leader”, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman replied that there had been a significant military involvement in previous ceremonial funerals, adding that the coffin bearer party would “include current service personal from ships, units and regiments notable for their service in the Falklands campaign.”

Details of Baroness Thatcher's funeral procession emerged after confirmation that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would attend the ceremony.

It will be the first time the monarch has attended a ceremonial funeral for a former British Prime Minister, although she attended the state funeral of Winston Churchill.

Lady Thatcher specifically did not want a full state funeral, her spokesman Lord Bell said, and asked not for a flypast which she considered ' a waste of money'.