Margaret Thatcher pre-dawn funeral rehearsal 'went very well'

 

A full military rehearsal for Baroness Thatcher's funeral has taken place in the early hours of this morning.

Major Andrew Chatburn, the man in charge of choreographing the parade, said the rehearsal "went very well" and claimed it was "vitally important" to stage a trial of Wednesday's event.

More than 700 serving Armed Forces personnel gathered in central London before dawn as a Union flag-draped coffin was carried on a horse-drawn gun carriage from St Clement Danes, the church of the Royal Air Force, down the Strand to St Paul's Cathedral.

Maj Chatburn, ceremonial staff officer for the Household Division, who was also behind the royal wedding procession two years ago and last year's Diamond Jubilee parade, said: "Timings are most important. We will learn something quite significant this morning about the timings, and to familiarise the troops of their duties.

"Bearing in mind these are sailors, soldiers and airmen who have come in to do this specific task from their routine duties, so it's new to them.

"They need to see the ground as well so they can get a feel for how it's going to go and they can perform their duties with confidence on the day.

"I thought it went very well."

The procession band played the funeral marches of Chopin, Beethoven and Mendelssohn as it made its way along the deserted streets.

During the rehearsal the military and police wore their working dress and high visibility clothes respectively, but they will be in ceremonial uniform on Wednesday.

The pensioners from Royal Hospital Chelsea did not take part today due to the early start, but they will line the west steps of St Paul's for the real event.

Maj Chatburn said: "The point of the rehearsal is to prove the route, make sure that the soldiers, sailors and airmen are familiar with their duties and to prove the timings.

"There is always scope for error but we try to eliminate that as much as we possibly can.

"We'll go back now, we'll have a debriefing and we'll take the points from that.

"We'll address whatever we have to address. If it's additional rehearsals in barracks we'll conduct those rehearsals and we'll get it right on the day."

Maj Chatburn said the thousands of people lining the streets on Wednesday will create issues that could not be replicated today.

"That creates an atmosphere and for the horses in particular that is another challenge for them.

"But they will handle that because the horses themselves are used to doing duties in central London with lots of crowds around."

He added: "Having a large public presence always concentrates the mind that little bit more for everyone."

Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans MP, speaking on ITV Daybreak, defended the cost of the funeral.

He said the Bishop of Grantham, the Rt Rev Dr Tim Ellis, had "got it wrong" over his description of the scale and the cost of the funeral as a "mistake" which may play into the hands of extremists.

"He has got it wrong," he said.

"I do not know where the £10 million figure has come from. It is going to be substantial sums but when you have got the Queen and other world leaders coming in for this funeral, then you are always going to have substantial security costs.

"So we are where we are."

He added: "We have just had an amazing Olympics which cost billions, we have had an amazing Diamond Jubilee which cost well in excess of £10 million - the world was looking at London, we do pomp and ceremony incredibly well. We are talking about marking the passing of the first woman prime minister in this country and indeed of the western world.

"Yes, I think it is going to be done in the right way but pomp and ceremony is something we do awfully well."

PA

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried