Thatcher’s funeral to be protected by ring of steel

A RING of steel is being erected around St Paul’s cathedral today as a massive security operation gets underway ahead of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

The road barriers form part of an enormous anti-terror plan put in place for Wednesday’s service that will involve the SAS, police marksmen, and helicopter surveillance.

Thousands of crowd-control railings have already been deployed along the route that Thatcher’s coffin will take from Westminster to the City, while some roads have already been closed as motorists and bus users prepare for days of travel chaos.

For security reasons the police are not handing out specific details of road closures until the last minute.

Last night Downing Street confirmed that the latest guests to confirm their attendance include former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, and the current leaders of Kuwait, Poland, and Latvia.

Stuart Wheeler, a leading City figure and the founder of spreadbetting firm IG Group, will be present, as will celebrity chef Marco Pierre White and a number of high-ranking former UK military leaders.

Details of the service released yesterday reveal that the lessons will read from the King James bible by David Cameron and Amanda Thatcher, the former Prime Minister’s 19-year-old granddaughter.

The cathedral steps will be flanked by 14 Chelsea pensioners and the address will be delivered by Bishop of London Richard Chartres. There will be a British theme to the music, with the congregation singing patriotic hymn I Vow To Thee My Country and Thatcher’s coffin carried out of the church to Edward Elgar’s Nimrod.

Cabinet office minister Francis Maude, who is helping to organise the funeral, yesterday said suggestions that the funeral could cost up to £10m were just “fantasy numbers”.

Meanwhile fans of the deceased Prime Minister yesterday unveiled plans for a Margaret Thatcher memorial library in London to commemorate her legacy, based on equivalent institutions built for US Presidents.

But a campaign by her opponents to push the song “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” to the top of the singles chart failed, with the track only making number two.