Thatcher funeral: Falklands theme, and no Argentines
Among the international guests will be FW De Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa
FURTHER details of Margaret Thatcher's ceremonial funeral on Wednesday have emerged as the debate over the cost and grandeur of the event continues, with claims that the bill will top £10m.
No Argentines welcome: Baroness Thatcher's family have vetoed plans to invite representatives from Argentina to the funeral, reports the Daily Telegraph, which adds that the organising committee is "planning to make the liberation of the Falkland Islands a central part of the ceremonial funeral on Wednesday".
Military on duty: A total of 755 personnel from the army, navy and air force will take part in the ceremony. Thatcher's coffin will be met at St Paul's by a guard of honour provided by the Welsh Guards. It will be carried into the cathedral by ten pallbearers chosen from units "notable for their service" in the Falklands. The BBC adds that there will be "three bands whose drums will be covered in black cloth".
Operation True Blue: Labour MP Andy Burnham has criticised the codename for the event, claiming it is too political. Plans for the funeral were first discussed in 2006, using the codename Iron Bridge. The name was changed when the coalition came to power "to give it a more Conservative feel", says The Independent.
International guests: Invitations to 2,300 guests will go out tomorrow. The Queen and Prince Philip have already announced that they will attend. Ex-Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will also be there. Among Thatcher's international contemporaries expected to attend are Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Russian President, and FW De Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa. Ronald Reagan's widow, Nancy, is unable to attend.
Bishop to give sermon: Thatcher's children, Mark and Carol, have chosen not to give a reading or speech at the funeral. The Right Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, will preach the sermon. An old friend of Baroness Thatcher's, he would jokingly kneel down and kiss her hand when they met, according to the Telegraph.
Mourning dress controversy: The Foreign Office has retracted an order to diplomats and staff that they must wear mourning clothes on the day of the funeral, reports The Guardian. It withdrew the memo, sent on Tuesday, after complaints "from the highest level" of the civil service that because it was not a state occasion the 'black tie' order was inappropriate.
Cost of the event: The bill for Wednesday's funeral is expected to come in at around £10m, much of which will be paid for by the taxpayer. "Lady Thatcher's family is meeting an unspecified amount of the expense, thought to cover transport, flowers and the cremation, with the government funding the rest, including security," reports the BBC. William Hague has defended the cost, saying the EU rebate Thatcher negotiated has already saved Britain £75bn.