Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Forces to Take Key Role at Funeral; Tributes Paid to Thatcher at Westminster

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Forces to Take Key Role at Funeral; Tributes Paid to Thatcher at Westminster

Article excerpt

Byline: Gavin Cordon

MORE than 700 armed forces personnel will take part in the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, it was announced yesterday as her son said she would have been "humbled" by the presence of the Queen at St Paul's Cathedral.

Sir Mark Thatcher said the family had been "overwhelmed" by messages of condolence and support they had received since the death of the former prime minister was announced on Monday.

In the Commons, recalled in special session to mark her death, David Cameron led the tributes from MPs to "an extraordinary leader and an extraordinary woman". But with many Labour MPs choosing to stay away from Westminster, ministers defended the expenditure of public money on the funeral of a figure who remains so controversial.

Downing Street confirmed that there would be a contribution made from Lady Thatcher's estate, but said the cost to the taxpayer would not be disclosed until after the service next Wednesday had taken place.

The scale of the ceremonial funeral became clear as Downing Street said that the streets of central London would be lined by men and women from all three services for the procession to St Paul's.

Three military bands will play, their drums draped in black, while processional minute guns will be fired from Tower Wharf at Tower Bridge.

Her coffin will be carried into the cathedral by bearers drawn from ships, squadrons and regiments particularly associated with the Falklands War.

Sir Mark, in his first public comments since his mother's death, said the family was grateful and honoured that the Queen had agreed to attend the funeral.

"I know my mother would be greatly honoured as well as humbled by her presence," he said.

"We have quite simply been overwhelmed by messages of support, con-dolence of every type from far and wide and I know that my mother would be pleased they have come from people of all walks of life."

In the Commons, Mr Cameron said it would be a "fitting salute to a great prime minister".

"She made the political weather, she made history, and - let this be her epitaph - she made our country great again," he said. …

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