News story

Baroness Thatcher's funeral service

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Service 'framed' by British music with 'I Vow To Thee, My Country' as the final hymn.

St Paul’s Cathedral released a copy of the Order of Service for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral service.

The funeral service - which began at 11am on Wednesday 17th April - was marked by a single half-muffled bell toll as the cortege arrived. The St Paul’s Cathedral Guild of Ringers rang ‘Stedman Cinques’ with the Cathedral’s bells half-muffled, for about 30 minutes.

Royal Hospital Chelsea chosen for charitable donations

The West Steps of the Cathedral was lined by 14 Pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea (aged between 65 and 90 years old).
Lady Thatcher had a strong connection to the Hospital over the last 10 years. She started attending the Chapel at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 2002 with her husband Sir Denis Thatcher when she moved back to the area and continued attending after he passed away. She was a very strong supporter of fundraising for the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary which was completed in 2009. 
There were two arrangements of white lilies and greenery at the foot of the lectern. There was also a ring of flowers around the candle. Lady Thatcher’s family asked that, if people wish to pay their respects, they consider making a donation to the Royal Hospital Chelsea rather than laying flowers. Details of how to do so are available on the Royal Hospital Chelsea website.

A service framed by British music

Lady Thatcher wanted the service to be ‘framed’ by British music. Several traditional pieces by many of the great British composers were played at the beginning and end of the service. She chose the hymn, ‘He Who Would Valiant Be’, because as well as being a traditional hymn for such an occasion, its words reflected her philosophy. It was also a favourite hymn from her childhood.

The Charles Wesley hymn, ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’, reflects the influence of her Methodist upbringing. While Psalm 84, set to the music of Johannes Brahms, is also a personal and significant choice. It is the same piece that Lady Thatcher chose to be played at the funeral of her husband Sir Denis Thatcher.

The final hymn, ‘I Vow To Thee, My Country’, is considered one of the great patriotic verses.

The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard Chartres delivered the address at the service.

The Prime Minister and Amanda Thatcher delivered the two readings, both great traditional funeral readings from the King James Bible. Lady Thatcher was particularly fond of the King James Bible and found its prose to be beautifully poetic.

TS Eliot was a particular favourite, which is why she chose ‘Little Gidding’ from Four Quartets for the service. One of Lady Thatcher’s favourite poems, William Wordsworth’s poem ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality’, is printed on the final page of the order of service.