Baroness Thatcher funeral invitation list released

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Downing Street has released an initial list of invitations to Baroness Thatcher's funeral next Wednesday.

All surviving US presidents and British prime ministers are on the guest list, as well as a representative of the Reagan family.

Ronald Reagan's widow Nancy is understood to be too frail to travel.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will also not be attending owing to health problems, his spokesman has said.

The guest list for the event was drawn up by Lady Thatcher's family with the assistance of the government and the Conservative Party.

More than 2,000 invitations will be sent out, with most set to be dispatched on Friday.

Full capacity

The Queen and Prince Philip are already confirmed for the ceremony, which will take place in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

It will be the first funeral of a British politician the Queen has attended since that of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.

The cathedral has a capacity of 2,300 and is expected to be full on the day.

All surviving members of Lady Thatcher's cabinets will be invited, as will the current cabinet and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Other invited guests from around the globe include former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and a representative of Nelson Mandela.

Guests from the world of entertainment who have already confirmed their attendance include BBC Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey, broadcaster Terry Wogan and Lord Lloyd Webber.

Author Frederick Forsyth, a longstanding supporter of the Conservative Party, has also been invited.

Labour former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have confirmed their attendance, as has Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, and FW de Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa.

Downing Street has confirmed that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will not be invited, but the country's ambassador to Britain has. Downing Street says this is in keeping with diplomatic protocol for such occasions.

Lord Kinnock, who was Labour leader for most of Lady Thatcher's time in Downing Street and was defeated by her at the 1987 election, will not be present because of a commitment to attend the funeral of a former local councillor in Wales.

More than 700 armed forces personnel will line the route of the procession from Westminster to St Paul's, including three bands whose drums will be covered in black cloth.

A gun salute will be fired from the Tower of London and the coffin will be carried into St Paul's by service personnel from regiments and ships closely associated with the Falklands campaign.

--BBC