Margaret Thatcher funeral as-it-happened

Ian Dunt By

08:38 - Good morning and welcome to our live blog, which will be running until the end of the funeral service at St Paul's which I gather will be around 2pm (ish - I'll post a full timetable in a moment). I'll be writing the live blog throughout, but we'll also be getting news and eyewitness reports from one colleague at the service in St Paul's and another on the streets with the mourners and protesters.

08:45 - Here's the timetable. As a side point, if you were planning on being in central London today: don't.

• From 0730 road closures are implemented along the route from Whitehall to St Paul’s Cathedral
• At 0900 doors open at St Paul’s Cathedral
• By 0930 the Ceremonial Route is closed to all vehicles
• At 0935 the Gun Carriage leaves Wellington Barracks
• At 0945 Street Liners will line the route, made up of personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the Army (taken from Household Division) and the Royal Air Force. They are in position by 1005.
• By 1000 guests will be seated at St Paul’s Cathedral
• At 1000 Coffin leaves, by hearse, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft. The coffin is dressed with a Union Flag. Three Metropolitan Police Service motorcycles will travel in front of the hearse. An (unmarked) police car will travel behind the hearse.
• By 1015 the Coffin will have been placed in St Clement Danes Church by civilian pall bearers.
• At 1015 the Lord Speaker, Mr Speaker and the Prime Minister are shown to their seats
• At 1015 the Guard of Honour deploys to St Paul’s Church Yard.
• At 1020 the Gun Carriage will take up position at St Clement Danes.
• At 1020 the Procession Band and Escort Party will take up position at St Clement Danes.
• At 1025 the tri-Service Bearer Party will carry the Coffin from St Clement Danes Church and place it upon a Gun Carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
• At 1025 the Step Lining Party takes up position on the West Steps.
• At 1033 the Gun Carriage and Bearer Party and Escort Party, led by a Band of the Royal Marines, step off.
• At 1035 the Lord Mayor of the City of London arrives at St Paul’s Cathedral
• At 1040 members of Lady Thatcher’s family arrive at St Paul’s Cathedral.
• At 1045 Choir procession within St Paul’s Cathedral.
• At 1045 hours The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh arrive at St Paul’s Cathedral.
• At 1055 the Gun Carriage arrives at St Paul’s Cathedral
• At 1100 the coffin enters St Paul’s Cathedral and the Funeral Service begins
• At 1155 the Funeral Service ends and the guests depart.
• After 1210 guests begin to arrive at Guildhall under the direction of Military Marshals
• By 1315 the Prime Minister, senior Ministers, The Lord Mayor, members of Lady Thatcher’s immediate family arrive at Guildhall from the reception at Mansion House
• At 1430 The National Anthem is played in each room by military musicians and the reception at Guildhall ends
• From 1430 the events are private and the Government’s involvement ceases

08:50 - People always seem more comfortable when you make your position clear on these things, so here we go: I am a standard critic of Thatcher, but not the sort who thinks it's a good idea to celebrate the death of an old woman. If you feel you need a more detailed description of my views on the former PM click here and on the approach to her funeral click here. The only important thing to mention is that I won't be adopting the enforced solemnity the BBC is so keen on but I won't be mocking someone's funeral either. Middle of the road, I'm afraid.

09:03 - There's already quite a push to get into St Paul's but the streets aren't as packed as you might imagine, especially if you've been following the media coverage since her death. Our correspondent at St Paul's reports: "There are lots of finely dressed women in ornate hats, dressed all in black, trying to get in the cathedral. A clutch of Tory backbenchers just wandered past looking cheerful. There are a few bemused tourists. The crowd is probably just one-deep along the bit by St Pauls so presumably it's thinner in the middle of the route."

09:10 - Some comment from both sides. The Guardian has a couple of strong pieces in it. Giles Fraser writing on how to bury Thatcher makes good reading while Seumas Milne issues probably the most robust attack on her political philosophy. Andrew Alexander offers a somewhat different criticism for the Mail in which he questions the cost of the whole thing. Paul Goodman celebrates her "courage and victories" for ConservativeHome while David Owen offers a more nuanced-than-usual assessment of her strategic strengths for the Torygraph.

09:17 - Thatcher's funeral in numbers:

• So far more than 2,300 guests have confirmed they will attend the service at St Paul's Cathedral
• 32 – all of the current Cabinet Ministers and Minister who attend Cabinet are planning to attend
• Over 50 attendees associated with the Falklands, including veterans
• Over 30 attendees from Baroness Thatcher’s Cabinets from 1979-1990
• 2 Heads of State will attend
• 11 serving Prime Ministers from across the globe attending
• 17 serving Foreign Ministers from across the globe attending
• Around 170 countries will be represented by foreign dignitaries (including members of Royal Families; serving Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers; former PMs and Presidents; and Heads of Missions)
• 11 Overseas Territories will be represented
• 8 horses from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will be appearing in the procession - 'Mister Twister' is due to lead the procession
• The Met police have confirmed over 4,000 police will be on duty
• 6,650 online condolences received via the No 10 website
• 36,300 views of photos on Flickr released by Downing Street of items related to Baroness Thatcher and pictures from her time as Prime Minister
• 1.2 million views to the Prime Minister's Facebook content following the death of Lady Thatcher
• Over 1,800 media accredited

09:29 - David Cameron said "we're all Thatcherites now" during a Radio 4 interview this morning and the response has been angry and predictable. Stewart Wood, Ed Miliband's chief strategist, tweeted simply: "No we're not". Chris Bryant, shadow immigration minister, said: "Really surprised that a party leader was allowed on BBC without a single taxing question during local election campaign."

09:19 - Some coverage from The chief executive of the Secular Society writes for us on the police use of Section 5 against anti-Thatcher demonstrators. A feature looks at the presidentialisation of the post of prime minister under Thatcher. The MP who now occupies Thatcher's seat explains how local work kept her in touch with the public. A young blogger and campaigner explains the effect of a female prime minister on ambitious young women. We have a look at the songs and prayers for the funeral which appear to have been specifically designed to drive the left to smashing their own televisions. Ok, that'll do you for now. About half an hour until the procession begins.

09:33 - And some choice cuts from Twitter:

09:43 - The general sense of the event is fairly downcast at present. Neither mourners nor protesters have turned out in the numbers we had originally anticipated. It's possible the nation isn't as interested in her death as the broadcasters have been. I know, it's unthinkable they wouldn't have their fingers on the pulse of the public. Inside St Paul's, however, it is already very full.

09:49 - There are actually only two heads of state attending the Thatcher funeral: from Bulgaria and Lithuania.

09:50 - Big Ben just chimed for the last time until the funeral is over.

09:55 - Ed Miliband arrives at St Paul's.

09:57 - By the way, Office of National Statistics figures show unemployment is up by 70,000. Many lefties have jumped on it as a tribute to Thatcher. It's now at 2.56 million between December & February.

09:58 - The coffin is being carried out the chapel and is being taken to the hearse.

10:05 - Interesting little bit of spying for those interested in the prospect of a Lib-Lab coalition. Clegg and Miliband have spent a considerable amount of time chatting. Miliband kissed Miriam, Clegg's wife, on both cheeks and then the deputy prime minister and leader of the opposition behaved in a way that suggests they enjoy a cordial relationship - lots of animated chatting and good body language.

10:06 - There were chants of "waste of money" from protesters as the military band moved across Ludgate Circus en route to St Paul's, according to Channel 4.

10:09 - There was a quiet ripple of applause when the coffin passed Downing Street. It has now arrived at a chapel. It is a very strange mood, actually. "We receive the body of our sister Margaret," the vicar says as the coffin enters the chapel.

10:12 - The coffin sits in the empty chapel with the two vicars (I assume they are vicars - I'm unfortunately not quite up to speed on these things) reading out prayers for the former PM. It is another strange sight.

10:14 - Cameron is now on the BBC, being asked if the funeral is a bit over the top. He claims the plans were in place when he entered Downing Street. He's told the military aspect is by him, but he brushes it off in a way that suggests it's probably true. "People would find it odd if as a country we didn't properly commemorate the passing of this woman," he says.

10:18 - Cameron is, as he usually does, striking about the right tone – it's not excessively emotive, but he is sombre and restrained.

10:21 - Police liaison officers are trying to quieten the handful of protesters along the route.

10:22 - The gun carriage on which Thatcher will be carried to St Paul's is apparently from the First World War. The PM and his wife enter St Paul's. She also wears one of these frilly black hair things, as if she's attending the wedding of Death. Am I alone in finding fashion efforts at funerals somewhat unseemly? Surely your mind should be on other things.

10:26 - Lots of quite unpleasant people at St Paul's I'm afraid. Among them Henry Kissinger.

10:27 - The coffin is carried out by members of the armed forces. They whisper "inside, outside" as they march. It emerges from the chapel.

10:31 - The coffin, draped in the union flag, is put on the gun carriage. It is a remarkable sight I must say, extremely orderly and pleasing to the eye. The bells sound. Everyone stands perfectly still. Then, as one, the bearer party put on their hats.

10:34 - It sets off. There is sustained applause from the crowds although again, I just say, that they are far fewer in number than I expected. There is plenty of space.

10:37 - As the coffin passed protestors started booing so the well-wishers, who significantly outnumber them, clap to drown them out.

10:38 - The procession makes its way along Fleet Street, past the law courts. You can hear boos and applause continuing to battle it out.

10:40 - Much bigger crowds can be seen on the way to St Paul's, particularly on the side streets. Many seem to be office workers popping out to see a bit of history.

10:43 - A protester has her sign ripped out of their hands as the band go by.

10:44 - The horses do seem to keep on trying to bite each other's ears.

10:45 - The national anthem is played outside St Paul's as the Queen arrives.

10:46 - The Queen is led by a man in ceremonial dress holding the 'mourning sword' – it's only the second time it's been used since World War Two apparently. Last time was, you guessed it, Churchill.

10:48 - Relations between Brown and Blair do not appear to have thawed. The two did not even shake hands or say a few words as they sat next to each other.

10:50 - The Queen slowly makes her way down the knave. Outside, the boos continue to mix with cheers (there are many more cheers than boos) as the procession continues.

10:53 - The horses continue to be very badly behaved. They really do seem hard to control and their obsession with each others' ears shows no sign of abating.

10:55 - The coffin comes to halt outside St Paul's.

10:57 - The coffin is slowly carried up the steps, with a triangle of Chelsea pensions along the sides. It is a gorgeous, impressive sight.

11:01 - There was near-silence outside St Paul's as the coffin entered, although a part of the crowd turned its back in protest. Others shouted "God bless Margaret".

11:07 - You can see beads of sweat on the men carrying the coffin. It's clearly hard work. It is laid directly under the dome of St Paul's. The service begins.

11:08 - The dean of St Paul's comments on the good Thatcher "tried to do" - a subtle caveat there. He then gives thanks for the rule of law and democracy and remembers the part we have played in peace and conflict across the world. It's interesting stuff.

11:11 - To be a Pilgrim is sung. This was the song at a school I particularly hated and I cannot therefore be objective about it.

11:13 - I think Amanda Thatcher is reading from the Bible - her granddaughter (I may be wrong). She has an American accent I wasn't expecting.

11:17 - Music by Henry Purcell, follows and now we have a lesson from David Cameron. "In my father's house are many mansions," he says. That's unfortunate.

11:19 - More music. Johannes Brahms's setting of Psalm 84 from his "A German Requiem." I'm getting all this information, by the way, from Sun journalist David Wooding, who plainly knows more about this sort of thing than I do.

11:24 - A sermon now begins. "After the storm of a life lived in great political controversy there comes a great calm," it starts. Thatcher became an 'ism' but now her remains lie here, where "she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings."

11:26 - This is very pretty. "This is a place for ordinary human compassion. It is also a place for the simple truths which transcend political debate. It is also a place for hope."

11:27 - George Osborne wipes away a tear.

11:28 - The sermon is broadly humorous, with anecdotes about her discouraging a bishop from fattening food. Osborne isn't the only crying politician out there.

11:30 - Kissinger appears to have fallen asleep.

11:31 - There are prior dispositions which are required to make markets and political institutions work well, the sermon goes on. Among them, he lists "mutual sympathy". Such moral and spiritual capital is accumulated over many generations, he adds.

11:33 - It does get a little political. "Her later remark about there being no such thing as society has been misunderstood," he says.

11:34 - The sermon moves on to the need for humans to accept their interdependence. We've been warned off political interpretations, but there is something in there which would be problematic for a Tory individualist. Otherwise the sermon is somewhat impenetrable and theological.

11:37 - "Let light eternal shine upon her." And so ends the sermon. Music begins again.

11:41 - Not entirely sure Cameron knows the words to this tune, he seems to be struggling. One of the pastors to the Speaker is now offering a prayer.

11:44 - Sorry, that was the Speaker's chaplain. Like I said, not too hot with the religious designations.

11:46 - The music is now In Paradisum - the last movement of Gabriel Faure's requiem. Or so I'm told. I may be the least reliable guide possible for this event. Twitter, , meanwhile, briefly perked up when Thatcher's granddaughter appeared (she was young, attractive and confident so presumably a Republican somewhere in the US is already preparing to make an offer of some sort). It then perked up really quite significantly when Osborne cried. Apparently people cry at funerals. Who knew?

11:51 - Last hymn. Cheltenham-born Gustav Holst's I Vow to Thee My Country. Even I know this one.

11:52 - Kissinger continues to struggle to stay awake, but Cherie Blair is giving it her all. As is Bercow and a tremendously well-bearded gentleman next to him.

11:53 - Apparently he is clerk of the House. He really belted it out for England.

11:54 - The Archbishop of Canterbury emerges. He asks for "peace at the last through Jesus Christ our Lord". The bearer party comes back up the aisle. They once again take the coffin.

11:57 - The coffin will now be taken to the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

12:01 - Slowly, the coffin is carried out the cathedral. As it comes out onto the street, shouts of hip-hip hooray ring out from the crowds.

12:05 - The timing was impeccable. The coffin entered at precisely 11 and emerged at precisely 12.

12:06 - Twitter is reporting boos outside the cathedral, but I didn't hear any. The coffin is put in the hearse.

12:08 - The Thatcher family stands on the steps as the hearse pulls away. There are more cheers as it leaves.

12:17 - And with that, we will bring this live blog to an end. We will have an eyewitness account of the funeral, analysis of the sermon and all the news and views you can shake a stick at in the next few moments. See you next week for PMQs when politics will have returned to something approximating normality.

Get involved Get Involved