A SINGLE, half-muffled bell will toll as the funeral cortege draws up to St Paul’s. Fourteen Chelsea Pensioners will line the steps as the coffin is borne aloft into the Cathedral.
In front of the coffin, Michael and Amanda Thatcher, grandchildren of the former prime minister, will carry cushions bearing the insignia of the Order of the Garter and the Order of Merit and lay them on the Dome Altar. At the foot of the lectern there will be two modest arrangements of white lilies and greenery.
Further details of the arrangements for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday were released yesterday by Downing Street.
The service will be “framed” by British music, with traditional pieces by great British composers played at the beginning and at the end.
Her love of poetry is reflected in her choice of TS Eliot’s Little Gidding, which will be printed on the opening page of the Order of Service and Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality on the final page.
David Cameron and Amanda Thatcher will deliver the readings from the King James Bible – of which she was particularly fond.
It was confirmed that the hymns will be 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 Right Reverend Richard Chartres. The presence of the Chelsea Pensioners reflects the strong connection Thatcher built up with the Royal Hospital Chelsea over the last ten years.
Her family has asked that, if people wish to pay their respects, they consider making a donation to the Royal Hospital Chelsea rather than laying flowers. The military procession leading to the service at St Paul’s will feature more than 700 serving armed forces personnel from units particularly associated with the Falklands War.
Major Andrew Chatburn, the man in charge of organising the parade, said the plans are based on “precedent and pragmatism” along with the wishes of the former prime minister.
“Baroness Thatcher had no direct service relationship. On this occasion it was felt appropriate that service personnel who have an association or connection with the Falklands conflict was probably the most suitable on this occasion,” he said.
Chatburn, ceremonial staff officer for the Household Division who was also behind the royal wedding procession two years ago and last year’s Diamond Jubilee parade, said his department has contingency plans for a number of eventualities but did not have one in the event of the death of the Baroness.
She will have a ceremonial funeral complete with military honours with the procession tailored especially to her, he said.
The last prime minister to have such a send-off was Winston Churchill in 1965, but he had a state funeral.
The procession, timed to last 19 minutes, will see the Union flag-draped coffin carried on a horse-drawn gun carriage from St Clement Danes, the church of the Royal Air Force, down the Strand on Wednesday morning.
Led by the Band of the Royal Marines, the procession will progress along Fleet Street towards St Paul’s where around 2,000 mourners are expected to attend the service.