Margaret Thatcher will be laid to rest tomorrow with an elaborate ceremonial funeral in London, with a strong military theme reflecting her government’s defining moment, the Falklands War.
A daybreak rehearsal of the funeral was undertaken on Monday morning, giving some indication of the pomp and ceremony to be accorded to Baroness Thatcher. The Queen will be attending, the first time she has attended a PM’s funeral since the death of the wartime leader Winston Churchill.
Here’s how events will unfold:
The former Premier's body will arrive at the Houses of Parliament tonight, where it will remain overnight in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, where a short and intimate service for around 100 people who knew or worked closely with Baroness Thatcher will be led by the Dean of Westminster.
On Wednesday, events will start shortly after 10am, when heads of State arrive at St Paul’s Cathedral.
A funeral procession will travel through the streets of London, first in a motorised hearse to the church of St Clement Danes, in the Strand and then, draped in a Union Flag, baroness Thatcher’s coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn gun carriage drawn by the King’s Troop Royal Artillery.
The cortege will travel through the City; down the Strand, through Aldwych, along Fleet Street to the famous dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. The final, horse-drawn stage of the procession will take exactly 19 minutes (at a precise pace of 70 steps a minute) if all goes according to plan. The funeral procession will include an escort by ten members of the armed forces representing the Army, Navy and RAF and will be met at the steps of St Paul's by a guard of honour of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, the Welsh Guards Band, 18 service personnel and Chelsea Pensioners. The funeral cortege will be made up of over 700 troops, drawn from regiments closely associated with the Falklands War.
Mourners are expected to turn out in force to line the streets, but it is also expected that some anti-Thatcher protestors – angered both by her legacy and the reverence she is being afforded – have said they will turn their backs on the coffin as the cortege passes. Police have said peaceful protests such as this will not be stopped.
The doors of St Paul’s Cathedral will open at 9am with guests asked to be seated by 10am.
At 10:45am, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will arrive at the Cathedral and be received at the foot of the West Steps by the Lord Mayor, who will accompany them to the Great West Door, where they will be received by the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury, before taking their their seats under the Dome. They are being accompanied by Sarah Ferguson, in a significant moment of thawing in relations with the ex-royal who was pointedly not invited to the royal wedding.
Other guests include Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, Dame Shirley Bassey, Dame Vera Lynn, Michael Caine, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, David Frost, FW de Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa and ten members of staff from the Ritz hotel, where Lady Thatcher died, as thanks for the care she received staying at the hotel since Christmas. Guests have been asked to wear “full day ceremonial dress without swords” or morning dress with a black waistcoat and black tie or dark suit, day dress with hat.
The Order of Service was selected by Thatcher herself, and includes readings from British poets such as TS Eliot and William Wordsworth and music by Elgar.
Thatcher specified the prime minister at the time of her death should read a lesson from the Gospels. David Cameron will read John 14.1, which says: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
Lady Thatcher's granddaughter Amanda will deliver another reading from the King James Bible.
Thy hymns have been confirmed by Downing Street as He Who Would Valiant Be, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, Psalm 84 set to the music of Johannes Brahms, and the patriotic verse I Vow To Thee My Country.
The funeral address will be delivered by the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres.
Big Ben is to be silenced during the funeral as a mark of respect.
The security operation alone is set to cost £5million. Police across the capital have been ordered to cancel any leave they had planned for ‘Operation True Blue’.
Flags will be flown at half mast on UK government buildings and British embassies from 8am to 8pm on the day of the funeral.
Thatcher requested there should not be a flypast as she considered it a waste of money, according to her friend and spokesperson Tim Bell.
Lady Thatcher's family have asked that if people wish to pay their respects, they consider making a donation to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, rather than laying flowers.
We wil be live blogging the event on the Royalist here on the Daily Beast.