St Paul’s to host Thatcher funeral next Wednesday

BARONESS Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will be held on Wednesday 17 April at St Paul’s Cathedral, Downing Street confirmed yesterday, as an enormous planning operation involving cabinet ministers, the Met police and the military swings into action.

Thousands of people are expected to watch as her coffin travels from the Palace of Westminster to a funeral attended by her close friends, in addition to leading politicians of today and former British leaders.

Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen and Prince Phillip will break with tradition and attend the funeral of a Prime Minister.

The entire enterprise could cost as much as £8m, with the bill split between the state and Thatcher’s estate.

Cabinet secretary Francis Maude, who was a minister in Thatcher’s government, yesterday morning chaired a meeting of the funeral organising group which is working under the codename Operation True Blue.

Meanwhile, parliament will today return early from recess to allow MPs and peers to pay tribute to the pioneering Prime Minister.

Thatcher, who died age 87 on Monday following a stroke, has been awarded a ceremonial funeral – one step down from a state ceremony and the same honour given to Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

A handful of people were arrested yesterday in Bristol and Brixton after small celebrations of her death turned violent.

Undertakers collected Thatcher’s body from the Ritz hotel early yesterday morning. She had spent the final months of her life there after moving out of her Belgravia townhouse following an illness.