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Margaret Thatcher coffin to lie in Parliament chapel

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 20:41

London: Margaret Thatcher`s coffin will be moved to a chapel in the Houses of Parliament here today for MPs and peers to pay their respects ahead of tomorrow`s funeral at St. Paul Cathedral.

The body of the Iron Lady, who died of a stroke aged 87 on April 8, will be laid at the chapel of St. Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster for a private ceremony to be attended by close relatives and around 100 MPs, peers and parliamentary and Downing Street staff.

As per the wishes of the former British Prime Minister, her coffin will remain there overnight with Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Speaker`s Chaplain, maintaining a night-time vigil in the historic chapel dating back to 1297 under King Edward I.

It will then be carried by hearse and gun carriage to St. Pauls for the service tomorrow before up to 2,000 guests, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and all former living UK prime ministers.

Argentina will not be represented at Baroness Thatcher`s funeral after its ambassador to London Alicia Castro declined an invitation to attend.

The government has been preparing for a full ceremonial funeral, involving more than 700 members of the armed forces, last held for a politician in 1965 when Britain`s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill died.

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger led the latest list of guests for the funeral.

Former US vice-president Dick Cheney, King Constantine II of Greece, Britain`s last Hong Kong governor Chris Patten, London 2012 Games chairman Sebastian Coe, former US presidential candidate Ross Perot and Labour MP Keith Vaz are also due to attend, Prime Minister David Cameron`s office said.

Parliament is set to vote on whether Prime Minister`s Questions should be cancelled in order to allow MPs to attend the funeral.

Some Left-wing politicians have objected to the obstruction to regular parliamentary business.

Respect party MP George Galloway and Labour veteran Dennis Skinner are leading the charge against the cancellation.

But the motion proposing the Parliament schedule change is expected to be passed after the Opposition Labour leadership said it would not oppose it.

And a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Lady Thatcher`s legacy is also to be postponed until after the funeral.
Meanwhile, there are fears that the funeral will be disrupted by protesters against Lady Thatcher`s controversial leadership and security for the procession and ceremony will be looked at again, especially in light of the explosions in Boston.
Following the funeral service, the coffin will travel by hearse to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.


First Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 20:40

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