Tony Benn’s body could lie overnight in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster, an honour that has previously only ever been accorded to Margaret Thatcher.
Parliamentary authorities have submitted a request to the Queen for Mr Benn’s body to rest there the night before his funeral on 27 March.
The veteran socialist politician, who died last week at the age of 88, spent over half a century as a Member of Parliament and served as a cabinet minister in two Labour governments.
The Benn family have said that the idea was suggested by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, with the agreement of the Lord Speaker. The honour of ‘resting’ in the chapel was first accorded to former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher before her funeral last year.
As the chapel is a Royal Peculiar (meaning it is directly under the control of the Monarch, rather than an Anglican Bishop), permission must be sought from the Queen before a body can rest there.
The Telegraph quotes Mr Bercow’s spokeswoman as saying: “Tony Benn’s time as an MP spanned more than 50 years and he is one of only two MPs to be awarded the freedom of the House – the other being Edward Heath – in recognition of his very long and distinguished service as an MP.
“It is this almost unique distinction which forms the basis for Tony Benn to be accorded the privilege to ‘rest’ in the Chapel on the eve of his funeral.”
A spokesman for the Benn family added: “At the suggestion of the Speaker and by agreement with the Lord Speaker, Black Rod and the Dean of Westminster Abbey, an approach has been made by Black Rod to the Palace for Mr Benn’s body to rest in the chapel of St Mary Undercroft on the night before his funeral.”