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Thatcher funeral: Guide to the day

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The funeral of Baroness Thatcher, the first female UK prime minister, was conducted along the same lines as those of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen Mother.

She was accorded a ceremonial funeral with military honours. It began at 11:00 BST (10:00 GMT) on Wednesday, 17 April, at St Paul's Cathedral in London.

It was the first time the Queen had attended the funeral of a British prime minister since that of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.

Funeral route

On Tuesday - the day before the funeral - Baroness Thatcher's coffin was moved to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster ahead of a short service for about 100 people led by the Dean of Westminster.

The service was attended by family members, senior figures from the House of Commons and House of Lords as well as some Westminster staff who knew or worked closely with Baroness Thatcher.

The Speaker's Chaplain, the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, kept vigil in the Chapel throughout the night.

On the day of the funeral itself, the coffin travelled by hearse from the Palace of Westminster at 10:00 BST to the Church of St Clement Danes - the Central Church of the Royal Air Force - on the Strand.

The coffin was then transferred to a gun carriage drawn by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and taken in procession from St Clement Danes to St Paul's Cathedral just after 10:30 BST. The route was lined by military personnel from all three services.

media captionTravel the funeral procession route - at street level in 55 seconds


The processional route from St Clement Danes Church, along Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill, was lined by more than 700 armed services personnel. The services and units represented were:

  • Royal Navy and Royal Marines
  • F Company Scots Guards
  • 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
  • Royal Air Force

The procession of the horse-drawn gun carriage was led by the Band of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth as it left St Clement Danes.

Baroness Thatcher's funeral bearer party

As part of the procession , there were 10 bearers - all members of the armed services - who walked alongside the coffin.

Where possible, personnel were chosen from ships, units and stations connected to those who served during the Falklands campaign.

The bearers have been taken from:

  • Royal Navy
  • Royal Marines
  • Scots Guards
  • Welsh Guards
  • Royal Artillery
  • Royal Engineers
  • Parachute Regiment
  • Royal Gurkha Rifles
  • Royal Air Force

The bearer party was followed by an escort party made up of a further 10 members of the armed services.

Military bands

Bands who played along the route of the funeral procession were from the Scots Guards and the Welsh Guards of the Household Division, the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force, the Ministry of Defence said. For the occasion, their drums were covered in black cloth.

Gun Salute

The Honourable Artillery Company fired a gun every minute, from Tower Wharf at the Tower of London, while the procession took place.

There was no fly-past by the Royal Air Force. Baroness Thatcher requested that there shouldn't be one, reportedly concerned about the costs.

Steps of St Paul's

Outside St Paul's Cathedral there was a Guard of Honour for the arrival of the coffin made up of members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and the Welsh Guards Band.

Eighteen more service personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, and Royal Air Force lined the steps along with pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

The guests

There were 2,300 guests filling St Paul's for the service. The dignitaries began taking their seats at 10:00 BST, with the Queen being escorted to her seat at 10:45 BST.

Those invited included family and friends of Baroness Thatcher, surviving members of her cabinets, former chiefs of staff and members of the current cabinet and opposition.

Current and former world leaders close to Baroness Thatcher were personally invited alongside about 200 official representatives from states, territories and international organisations.

Amongst those attending were:

  • The Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
  • Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie
  • Former President of South Africa, FW de Klerk
  • Former US Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne
  • Former US Secretary of State and Nobel Peace laureate Dr Henry Kissinger
  • Former Private Secretary to Lady Thatcher, Lord Powell of Bayswater KCMG OBE
  • Dame Shirley Bassey
  • Jeremy Clarkson
  • Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber
  • Lord and Lady Archer
  • US politician Newt Gingrich
  • Classical singer Katherine Jenkins

Full details can be found on the Downing Street website.

Those who were invited but were unable to attend include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former First Lady of the US Nancy Reagan.

Inside St Paul's Cathedral

The funeral service was led by the Dean of St Paul's, Dr David Ison. The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, gave the sermon, and the blessing was given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The Order of Service contained two readings - one by Lady Thatcher's 19-year-old granddaughter Amanda - and the second by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Downing Street said Lady Thatcher wanted the service to be "framed" by British music and it included compositions by Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

There was also a selection of well-known hymns, including Charles Wesley's Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, reflecting the influence of Lady Thatcher's Methodist upbringing.

After the service

At the end of the service, the hearse left for the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. The coffin was accompanied by the Royal Hospital's chaplain, the Reverend Dick Whittington.

Lady Thatcher's body is being driven to Mortlake in south-west London, where a private cremation will take place. Her remains will be buried alongside her husband, Denis, at the Royal Hospital.

Two receptions followed the service. Foreign Secretary William Hague is hosting one at Mansion House for representatives from foreign states and other distinguished foreign VIPs.

The other is being held at Guildhall for friends and family of Lady Thatcher and representatives of UK institutions. The Thatcher family, the prime minister and other senior ministers were expected to attend both receptions.

How much will it cost?

No official figure has been given for the estimated overall costs, although newspaper reports suggest it could be up to £10m.

Lady Thatcher's family is meeting an unspecified amount of the expense, thought to cover transport, flowers and the cremation, with the government funding the rest, including security.

A 2013 House of Commons note on state funerals details some of the costs of the Queen Mother's ceremonial funeral in 2002.

Policing costs on that occasion were £4.3m, of which £2.3m were opportunity costs (costs that would be incurred anyway if staff were assigned to other operations). The cost to the Ministry of Defence was much less at £301,000.

Travel disruption

Lady Thatcher's funeral procession meant road closures along and around the route as well as disruption to public transport.

Key road closures in place from 07:00 BST on 17 April:

Parliament Square, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, The Stand, Aldwych, Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, Blackfriars Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Waterloo Bridge (restricted access), Farringdon Road, Kingsway, Charing Cross Road, The Mall, Victoria Street, Millbank, St Pauls Churchyard, Cannon Street.

All roads were reopened by 15:00 BST, the Metropolitan Police said.

Key bus routes were affected by diversions or cancellations from 06:00 BST until roads reopened:

1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 43, 45, 53, 59, 63, 68, 76, 87, 88, 91, 100, 133, 139, 141, 148, 159, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 211, 242, 243, 341, 381, 388, 453, 507, 521, C10.

Underground and trains:

All Tube, Docklands Light Railway and London Overground lines will be running as normal.

Barclays Cycle Hire ("Boris Bikes")

A number of Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations within the road closure area will be suspended all day.

Full travel details are available from Transport for London.


Baroness Thatcher's family asked well-wishers to consider making a donation to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, rather than giving flowers.

More on this story

  • Obituary: Margaret Thatcher