In Parliament for the very last time

The coffin of Baroness Thatcher rests in the Crypt Chapel of St Mary Undercroft beneath the Houses of Parliament in central London, yesterday.

The coffin of Baroness Thatcher rests in the Crypt Chapel of St Mary Undercroft beneath the Houses of Parliament in central London, yesterday.

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Baroness Thatcher’s coffin arrived at Westminster as the former Prime Minister paid her final visit to Parliament.

Draped in a Union flag, the coffin was brought by hearse to the Houses of Parliament yesterday, where Lady Thatcher’s body rested overnight in the crypt chapel of St Mary Undercroft before her ceremonial funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral today.

A short private service to receive the body into the chapel was led by the Dean of Westminster and attended by members of the Thatcher family, senior figures from both Houses and members of staff who worked closely with Britain’s first woman Prime Minister.

After the service, MPs, peers and Parliamentary staff were allowed into the chapel to pay their respects to the woman who dominated Westminster as Prime Minister from 1979-90 and served as an MP and peer for more than half a century from 1959 until her death aged 87 last week.

In contrast to the elaborate military procession and cathedral service planned for today, Lady Thatcher’s return to the scene of so many triumphs and battles was a simple and low-key ceremony.

Her coffin, topped by a large bouquet of white flowers, was lifted from the hearse and carried into Parliament by four pall-bearers in black ties.

The road immediately outside Parliament was closed to traffic and pedestrians for the arrival of the hearse. Lady Thatcher herself had asked for her final farewell to Westminster to be a private affair.

After former colleagues and staff paid their respects yesterday, the Speaker’s Chaplain, the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin kept vigil in the chapel through the night.

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