Heavy security for Thatcher funeral

Bible reading chosen by Margaret Thatcher urges people ‘to put on the armour of God’ to stand against the wiles of the devil

A mounted police officer stands outside St Paul's Cathedral ahead of the funeral of former British prime minister  Margaret Thatcher. Photograph:  Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A mounted police officer stands outside St Paul's Cathedral ahead of the funeral of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Wed, Apr 17, 2013, 09:13

Even in her final appearance on the stage, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who will be cremated today after a funeral service in St Paul’s in London, remains defiant.

Each word in the Order of Service was laid down by Mrs Thatcher when she agreed the arrangements for her funeral with Labour’s Gordon Brown during his time in office.

Wiles of the devil
Her grand-daughter, Amanda, reading from Ephesians 6. 10-18, will read a call for the righteous to put “on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” the reading continues.

Heavy security will surround the hour-long funeral service in St Paul’s, which will be attended by 2,300 guests, including 50 Falkland Islanders and veterans of the 1982 war.

Eleven serving prime ministers will attend, although the White House has annoyed some Conservatives by not sending a representative. Former US vice-president Dick Cheney will attend.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn will represent the Government, while Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and Alliance Party MP Naomi Long will attend.

Baroness Thatcher’s coffin was brought to the Palace of Westminster yesterday afternoon, where it rested overnight in St Mary’s Undercroft, the cellar chapel.

A short private service was attended by her children Mark and Carol, prime minister David Cameron and former colleagues and staff .

From there, it will be taken this morning to the Clement Danes church on the Strand, where it will be transferred onto a gun-carriage for the rest of the journey to St Paul’s.

Security, heightened after the Boston attacks, will be stiff for the funeral, which will involve nearly 800 members of the British military – a fact that has annoyed many.

Some protesters have said that they will register their disapproval of her actions in power, and the decision to grant her a funeral that is just shy of a State occasion, by turning their backs upon her cortege.

Bitter clash
The funeral service will not be marked by a eulogy, but a more limited address will be given by the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, who was involved in a bitter clash with Mrs Thatcher after the Falklands War.

Then a young Church of England curate, Dr Chartres wrote a speech for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie in which the latter said that all wars are marks of failure, not success.

In addition, Dr Runcie, speaking at a thanksgiving service for the Falklands victory, prayed for the Argentines left dead and injured in the conflict – an act that infuriated Mrs Thatcher.

While Dr Chartres is expected to limit the scope of his remarks about Mrs Thatcher’s life and actions, some in the church will expect him to note her ability to create both division and controversy.