Margaret Thatcher funeral date and plans: Wednesday April 17 at St Paul's and the Queen WILL attend

  • Downing Street reveals service at St Paul's will be on Wednesday April 17
  • Palace confirms that The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will attend
  • Former Prime Minister's body taken to undisclosed location this morning
  • She died in the bed of her hotel suite at 11.28am yesterday, while reading
  • Funeral procession next week will go from Parliament to St Paul's
  • Britain's first female leader died yesterday at the age of 87

By Hugo Gye and Martin Robinson

PUBLISHED: 02:04 EST, 9 April 2013 | UPDATED: 05:26 EST, 9 April 2013

Baroness Thatcher's funeral will be held on Wednesday April 17, Downing Street has revealed.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will also attend the service at St Paul's Cathedral next week.

Buckingham Palace confirmed this is the first political funeral the Monarch has attended personally since Winston Churchill's in 1965.

To set the date and begin planning for the funeral, a 'co-ordination meeting' with the Thatcher family and Buckingham Palace was held this morning, chaired by the Cabinet Office.

Meanwhile the former Conservative prime minister's body was removed from her suite in the Ritz Hotel, where she died 'peacefully' sitting up in bed, after suffering a stroke while reading.

She was taken to an undisclosed location by private ambulance around 12.20am, protected by police outriders.

Tributes: Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday aged 87, is being mourned by the nation; she is pictured greeting curious crowds on an official trip to Moscow in 1987

Tributes: Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday aged 87, is being mourned by the nation; she is pictured greeting curious crowds on an official trip to Moscow in 1987

Preparations: A private ambulance carrying Lady Thatcher's body leaves the Ritz for an undisclosed location

Preparations: A private ambulance carrying Lady Thatcher's body leaves the Ritz for an undisclosed location

Preparations today began in earnest for her ceremonial funeral, which will see her coffin taken to the door of St Paul's Cathedral on a horse-drawn gun carriage.

It will take place with full military honours next Wednesday, although many Conservative MPs are now calling for Britain's first and only female political leader to be given a full state funeral.

Mrs Thatcher died at 11.28am yesterday, and her twin children Mark and Carol were abroad at the time, it has also emerged.

Her body was driven away from the hotel in a private ambulance this morning with three undertakers in the front and escorted by four diplomatic protection officers on motorbikes.

A BMW 4x4 followed behind with two men in the front and blacked-out windows behind.

Security at the hotel was heightened last night with more than a dozen police officers surrounding the hotel as the vehicle pulled away shortly after midnight.

A police helicopter circled in the sky above. The ambulance drove through the wrought iron gates at the rear of the hotel, which had been closely guarded since news of her death broke.

Guards: Police officers stand outside the Ritz hotel where Baroness Thatcher died in bed yesterday

Guards: Police officers stand outside the Ritz hotel where Baroness Thatcher died in bed yesterday

Team: Several police outriders accompanied undertakers who took the former prime minister's body to an undisclosed location this morning

Team: Several police outriders accompanied undertakers who took the former prime minister's body to an undisclosed location this morning

Map: The funeral procession will run from Parliament to St Paul's Cathedral via Trafalgar Square

Map: The funeral procession will run from Parliament to St Paul's Cathedral via Trafalgar Square

MPs will return to the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon to pay tribute to Britain's first woman Prime Minister, who died yesterday morning aged 87.

Members of the House of Lords will also be recalled from their Easter recess.

The Government is expected to put down a a motion praising Lady Thatcher, as David Cameron and Ed Miliband deliver statements to the Commons on her legacy.

The Prime Minister yesterday cut short an official visit to Europe following the death, and the major political parties suspended their campaigns for next month's local elections.

Flowers: A police officer lays fresh tributes outside Mrs Thatcher's Belgravia home this morning

Flowers: A police officer lays fresh tributes outside Mrs Thatcher's Belgravia home this morning

Messages: Hand written notes, flowers and flags remain outside the Baroness's home in a rain-soaked London this morning

Messages: Hand written notes, flowers and flags remain outside the Baroness's home in a rain-soaked London this morning

Flowers: Well-wishers left tributes outside Lady Thatcher's home in Belgravia, Central London yesterday

Flowers: Well-wishers left tributes outside Lady Thatcher's home in Belgravia, Central London yesterday

The date of Lady Thatcher's ceremonial funeral - which will see her body transported from Parliament to St Paul's - has not yet been confirmed.

Its details are understood to have been mapped out in talks with government officials more than five years ago.

The evening before her funeral, the former Prime Minister's coffin will rest in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster. There will be a short service following its arrival.

On the day itself, the streets will be cleared of traffic and the coffin will travel by hearse to the Church of St Clement Danes, the RAF Chapel, on the Strand.

At the church the coffin will be transferred to a gun carriage drawn by horses of the King’s Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery, the Queen’s ceremonial Saluting Battery which is stationed at Woolwich in South-East London.

Successor: David Cameron paid tribute to his predecessor, whom he said 'saved Britain'

Successor: David Cameron paid tribute to his predecessor, whom he said 'saved Britain'

Statement: The Prime Minister talking about Lady Thatcher outside Number 10 yesterday afternoon

Statement: The Prime Minister talking about Lady Thatcher outside Number 10 yesterday afternoon

The funeral cortege will pass up Whitehall, through Trafalgar Square, along the Strand, round Aldwych and then up Ludgate Hill to St Paul’s.

Serving members of all three Armed Forces will line the route along with an expected throng of tens of thousands of members of the public.

When the procession reaches the steps of St Paul’s it will be met by another military guard of honour and Chelsea pensioners.

After the official funeral ceremony there will be a separate private family event as Lady Thatcher is cremated in Mortlake, South West London.

The costs of the funeral will be shared by the Government and Lady Thatcher’s estate.

Every living Prime Minister - Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron - plus the Cabinet and shadow cabinet are expected to attend the service.

Spontaneous tribute: Carrying bouquets, wreaths and poster pictures, well-wishers arrived at Lady Thatcher's home in Belgravia, central London, within an hour of the news of her death being broadcast

Spontaneous tribute: Carrying bouquets, wreaths and poster pictures, well-wishers arrived at Lady Thatcher's home in Belgravia, central London, within an hour of the news of her death being broadcast

Gifts: Messages, books and flowers left outside the former Prime Minister's home yesterday

Gifts: Messages, books and flowers left outside the former Prime Minister's home yesterday

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Nancy Reagan, wife of her closest ally US President Ronald Reagan, are expected to lead a list of international mourners.

The Queen does not normally attend non-Royal ceremonial funerals, instead sending a representative from her family, but it is thought she might make an exception on this occasion, as she did for the funeral of Winston Churchill.

Speaking in front of 10 Downing Street yesterday, Mr Cameron paid tribute to one of his most illustrious predecessors, saying the country had lost a ‘great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton’.

He added: ‘Margaret Thatcher didn’t just lead our country – she saved our country. And we should never forget that the odds were stacked against her. She was the shopkeeper’s daughter from Grantham who made it to the highest office in the land.

‘There were people who said she couldn’t make it; who stood in her way; who said a woman couldn’t lead. She defied them all.'

President Obama said she had shown ‘our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered’.

In a column in The Times today, Chancellor George Osborne said: 'Margaret Thatcher was an optimist. She had optimism in the ingenuity and enterprise of the British people, when most had written them off. She had optimism that Britain’s best days lay ahead of it not behind it, when most pined for a mythical golden past.

'Margaret Thatcher was an optimist — and as Thatcher’s children mourn the death of the woman who defined our age, we too should be optimists about the triumph of the human spirit that she did so much to set free.'

Veteran Tory Ken Clarke said: 'Without her, this country would have been in a rust bucket ruin.

'The country was on its knees when we took over – we were a laughing stock, an industrial, political laughing stock.

'And by the time she’d lost office, she’d transformed the country, given it back its self-confidence, given it a modern economy. It was a quite remarkable achievement.'

Divisive: Some held overnight parties to celebrate the death of the strident Prime Minister

Divisive: Some held overnight parties to celebrate the death of the strident Prime Minister

Blocking the streets: Demonstrators in Brixton, South London joined in with a massive protest

Blocking the streets: Demonstrators in Brixton, South London joined in with a massive protest

Tony Blair, whom Lady Thatcher once described as her ‘greatest achievement’, was by far the warmest of senior Labour figures, hailing her as a ‘towering political figure’.

Ed Miliband, Labour leader, said she would ‘always remain a controversial figure’.

But he added: ‘She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain’s first woman Prime Minister. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.’

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, noted Lady Thatcher’s religious faith. ‘It is right that today we give thanks for a life devoted to public service, acknowledging also the faith that inspired and sustained her,’ he said.

Private life: The young mother aged 28 with her twin babies Carol and Mark in 1953

Private life: The young mother aged 28 with her twin babies Carol and Mark in 1953

Leaving Number 10: The Prime Minister looks out of her car window after being defeated in the Tory leadership election

Leaving Number 10: The Prime Minister looks out of her car window after being defeated in the Tory leadership election in November 1990

But as most of Britain mourned the nation's most forceful leader of the past 60 years, others celebrated her death with all-night parties which required the attention of additional police officers.

Around 300 people assembled in Glasgow's George Square with party hats and streamers, while 150 people threw a raucous celebration in Brixton, South London.

Demonstrators climbed up the nearby Ritzy Cinema and re-arranged the film titles outside to say: 'Margaret Thatcher's dead. Equality is the key.'

Extra police were called to Brixton as the party raged on until nearly 2am.

Two women were arrested on suspicion of burglary after being found inside a shop whose front windows had been smashed.

VIDEO Baroness Thatcher's body is taken from the Ritz as funeral details emerge 

The Iron Lady's death: How the press around the world reacted

Front pages: Fleet Street all splashed iconic images of Baroness Thatcher as journalists digested the news of her death

Front pages: Britain's national newspapers all splashed with iconic images of Baroness Thatcher, as journalists digested the news of her death

Worldwide news:  International newspapers (top left to bottom right) Le Figaro in France, The Washington Times in the United States,  Libero in Italy  and The Australian in Australia react today

By Staff 04/08/2013 22:44:00