Ceremonial funeral for Margaret Thatcher

Published 17 April 2013
PA
Former prime minister and Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87

The funeral of former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher is taking place in London today.

Lady Thatcher's coffin will be taken in procession from Westminster and through central London to St Paul's Cathedral.

The Queen, friends, family, politicians and dignitaries will be among those attending.

The 2,300 expected guests also include veterans from the Falklands War, although Argentina's ambassador to London, Alicia Castro, has turned down an invitation to attend.

Lady Thatcher was Britain's first female Prime Minister, serving from 1979 to 1990. She died from a stroke on 8 April at the age of 87.

Her coffin spent the night at the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in Westminster following a smaller, private funeral attended by close friends and family.

Around 150 guests were present at the brief service, including daughter Carol and son Sir Mark Thatcher.

The service was led by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall.

This morning, the coffin was taken to the Church of St Clement Danes, the Central Church of the RAF, on the Strand ahead of the funeral.

The Dean of St Paul's, the Very Reverend Dr David Ison, said it would be a "relatively humble" funeral.

During the procession to the cathedral, a gun salute will be fired every minute from the Tower of London.

Prime Minister's Questions has been cancelled to allow MPs to attend and Big Ben will fall silent as a mark of respect.

Security is tight, with more than 4,000 police officers stationed across the capital.

Police are anticipating some protests along the procession route.

Dr Ison urged people to show respect. According to The Telegraph, he said people should "ask themselves searching questions" about whether protesting at a person's funeral was "appropriate".

"There are other occasions … at which people can lawfully and appropriately protest about the policies of the Government or the way that we understand history," he said.

"Funerals are an opportunity to take stock of ourselves too in the face of death and ask ourselves the question how would we be different, how would we do it differently, how are we doing it different and how would we seek to build a harmonious, truthful and faithful society in the way that Mrs Thatcher aspired to in the steps of Downing Street."

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