UK Politics

Baroness Thatcher funeral invitation list released

Flowers and mementos left by members of the public and admirers sit outside the home of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Image caption Guests from around the world are expected to gather for Lady Thatcher's funeral in St Paul's

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.

It has also been confirmed that neither George HW Bush, Mr Reagan's vice-president who succeeded him in the White House nor his son George W Bush, US President between 2001 and 2009, will be attending.

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.

A spokesman for Mrs Reagan said she was "heartbroken" about Lady Thatcher's death but was no longer able to make such trips and a family friend, Fred Ryan, would be representing her at the funeral.

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 Sir Terry Wogan, Lord Lloyd-Webber and Sir Tim Rice.

Author Frederick Forsyth, a longstanding supporter of the Conservative Party, has also been invited, as have actresses Joan Collins and June Whitfield.

Veteran journalists Sir David Frost and Sir Trevor McDonald will be attending, alongside British fashion accessories designer Anya Hindmarch and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu.

Former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have confirmed their attendance, as has Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, and FW de Klerk, the South African president who oversaw the end of apartheid.

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

Media captionCommander Christine Jones: "If you want to come to London to protest please come and talk to us"

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.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he believed it was right that Lady Thatcher was being given a ceremonial funeral with full military honours.

"I think people would find us a pretty extraordinary country if we didn't properly commemorate with dignity, with seriousness, but with also some fanfare... the passing of this extraordinary woman," he said.

"I think not only in Britain would people say, 'You are not doing this properly', but I think the rest of the world would think we were completely wrong."

Mr Cameron has previously welcomed suggestions as to how Lady Thatcher could be commemorated.

The Mayor of London's office, Westminster Council and the government are understood to be looking at a variety of central London sites, including Parliament Square, as a potential site for a new statue.

The Metropolitan Police said they were working to ensure the day of the funeral passed off safely, amid concerns that some people may use it as an opportunity to protest.

On the day of Lady Thatcher's death, there were small gatherings in various parts of the UK, notably in Glasgow, Bristol and London, with those taking part saying they were celebrating her death.

Met commander Christine Jones urged anyone wishing to demonstrate at the funeral to talk to the police.

"The right to protest is one that must be upheld," she said.

"However, we will work to do that whilst balancing the rights of those who wish to pay their respects and those who wish to travel about London as usual."

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has said "an administrative error" led to inaccurate guidance being issued to diplomatic staff in embassies around the world after it was reported they had been told to wear mourning clothes on the day of the funeral.

They were later told it was unnecessary.

Lady Thatcher, who won three successive general elections, died "peacefully" on Monday after suffering a stroke while staying at the Ritz hotel in central London.