Pomp and pageantry for Thatcher funeral

Condolence book for the late Margaret Thatcher.

LONDON — The funeral of Baroness Thatcher will take place on Wednesday, April 17, Downing Street has announced.

The 87-year-old former prime minister died yesterday, after suffering a series of strokes.

The funeral ceremony, with full military honours, will take place at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, following a procession from Westminster.

The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will attend the service, Buckingham Palace said.

Lady Thatcher will not have a state funeral but will be accorded the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

A ceremonial funeral is one rung down from a state funeral – normally reserved for monarchs – and requires the consent of the Queen.

A Downing Street spokesman said the details had been agreed at a “coordination meeting” between the Thatcher family and Buckingham Palace this morning.

Lady Thatcher, a Conservative, was the UK’s first female prime minister. She was in office from 1979 to 1990, winning three successive general elections.

She died “peacefully” after suffering a stroke while staying at the Ritz hotel in central London. Lady Thatcher had been staying at the hotel since being discharged from hospital at the end of last year.

An undertaker’s van carrying a silver casket left the hotel early on Tuesday morning for an undisclosed location.

Parliament will be recalled from its Easter recess this tomorrow to enable MPs and peers to pay tributes.

But Labour MP John Mann said: “I do not know why we are wasting taxpayers’ money on an additional session.

“It is perfectly valid that, when a prime minister dies, MPs can pay tribute, but this could be perfectly properly done on Monday.”

However, a large number of Labour MPs are expected to pay tribute to Lady Thatcher, a senior party source said.

Respect MP George Galloway said he would not attend, as genuine debate was “not allowed”. He called the event a “state-organised eulogy”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has described Lady Thatcher as a “great Briton” and international leaders, including US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have praised her global role.

But small gatherings sprang up last night in various parts of the UK, notably in Glasgow, Bristol and London, with those taking part saying they were celebrating her death.

Seven officers were injured in Bristol, where violent broke out and bins were set alight. One person was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder. (BBC)

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