Margaret Thatcher's funeral: A True Blue occasion that has been four years in the making

The guest list is decided, her final resting place selected and plans for protests accounted for. Oliver Wright reports on the secretive committee behind the Iron Lady's funeral

Preparations for Baroness Thatcher's funeral next Wednesday – codenamed True Blue – began nearly four years ago and it was decided early on that she would not receive a full state funeral.

A committee of senior government officials and representatives from Buckingham Palace as well as the police and parliamentary authorities was first convened back in 2009.

It was chaired by Sir Malcolm Ross, the Queen's former Master of the Royal Household, who organised the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 and the Queen Mother in 2002.

At that stage the preparations were given the code name Iron Bridge in a play on the name for the Queen Mother's funeral plans which were known as Tay Bridge. The name was changed to True Blue when the Conservatives came back into power at the 2010 election.

Sir Malcolm initially acted as the go-between for the Government and Lady Thatcher and her family, and the committee met every six months to update the plans. A member of the committee at the time who spoke to The Independent said that even at that early stage the location and status of the funeral was already agreed.

"The chairman was the link between the committee and the family and it was made clear that Lady Thatcher and the family did not want a state funeral," they said. "The arrangements that have been announced so far are very much those which were ironed out at those early meetings. Even then the plan was to have a ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral similar to that of the Queen Mother."

There was also contingency planning for the types of demonstrations seen on Monday by opponents of Lady Thatcher. "We always realised that her death would not necessarily evoke the same kind of reaction among everyone to say a Royal death. That's why the police were perhaps more involved in the early planning than they might otherwise have been."

When the Conservatives came into government the plans were reviewed by the incoming Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who personally took over the chairmanship of the committee. The codename given to the plans was also changed to "True Blue" to give it a more Conservative feel.

Interestingly, Mr Maude's father, Angus, was a key supporter of Lady Thatcher when she made her bid for the Conservative party leadership in 1975. When she came to power in May 1979, he was appointed to the position of Paymaster General. It is a position which is now held by his son under David Cameron.

Cabinet Office sources said that since then, and as Lady Thatcher's health deteriorated, the committee's meetings have become more frequent – convening once every couple of months.

A guest list for the funeral was drawn-up which is likely to include not just foreign dignitaries, politicians and friends and family of Lady Thatcher but also a sizable representation from across the grassroots of the Conservative Party that was always her biggest base.

"This won't just be a national occasion it will be very much be a Conservative occasion," said a party source.

Since her death was announced on Monday it is now meeting every day. The membership has widened and now includes representatives from Downing Street, the Home Office, the security services and Lady Thatcher's former office as well as key figures from St Paul's and the Palace of Westminster.

It met today and discussed details including the funeral procession, invitations, matters of foreign protocol, the role of the military and the service at St Paul's.

More details will be released in the coming days but today it was announced that both the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh would attend the service in St Paul's – a decision which is said to have been taken after Lady Thatcher's death.

Next Tuesday her coffin will be moved to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster where there will be a short service and where it will rest overnight. On Wednesday, the streets will be closed to traffic as Lady Thatcher's coffin travels by hearse to the church of St Clement Danes, the RAF Chapel, on the strand.

At the church, it will be transferred to a gun carriage drawn by the King's Troop Royal Artillery. It will then be borne in procession from St Clement Danes to St Paul's. The route will be lined by military personnel and members of the public who wish to pay their respects.

At St Paul's, there will be a guard of honour and military personnel and Chelsea Pensioners will line the steps of the cathedral. Her coffin will be carried into the cathedral by members of the armed forces.

After the service there will be a private cremation service. The final resting place of her ashes is likely to be alongside that of her husband, Sir Denis, just outside the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
News
Williams says: 'The reason I got jobs was because they would blow the budget on the big guys - but they only had to pay me the price of a cup of tea'
arts + ents
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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 General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee