Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

800 Military Line Streets for Dawn Rehearsal of Funeral

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

800 Military Line Streets for Dawn Rehearsal of Funeral

Article excerpt

Byline: Miranda Bryant and Lindsay Watling

HUNDREDS of members of the armed forces today carried out a full dress rehearsal for Baroness Thatcher's funeral as dawn broke over the capital.

More than 800 representatives of the RAF, Army and Navy assembled in central London for a "dry run" of the procession on Wednesday.

As early as 4.45am, service personnel began to line the streets from St Clement Danes in the Strand, the church of the Royal Airforce, to St Paul's Cathedral, where Lady Thatcher's funeral will be held. The funeral marches of Chopin, Beethoven and Mendelssohn rang out through the streets.

But unlike on Wednesday, when thousands are expected to pay their respects along the route, the streets were largely deserted except for a few early workers, commuters, tourists and joggers.

Organisers said the rehearsal went "very well" but they will still be working flat out to ensure to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Ceremonial Staff Officer for the Household Division, Major Andrew Chatburn, who was also in charge of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding procession and the Queen Mother's funeral, 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." He added: "We'll go back now, we'll have a debriefing and we'll take the points from that."

The procession today took about 20 minutes but timings could vary on the day. Carrying their arms and being kept in time by a drum, the 320 street liners -- formed of RAF, Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines -- arrived first to take their places every nine paces along the route before the hearse arrived at St Clement Danes. …

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