The funeral arrangements and burial for Nancy Reagan have been announced. Nancy Reagan’s funeral will take place Friday morning, March 11, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Her funeral will be closed to the public. There is no set protocol for a First Lady’s funeral or the ceremonies surrounding her death. (You can watch the funeral live, online, at this link. Or if you prefer to watch the funeral on TV, please see this link.)
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Nancy Reagan’s Funeral Will Be a Private Service Only For Friends and Family
Nancy Reagan’s funeral service will not be open to the public. Her funeral, which will take place on Friday, March 11 at 11 a.m. Pacific (2 pm Eastern), will only be open to friends and family, according to the Reagan Foundation. Nancy died of congestive heart failure. She was 94 years old.
People expected to attend Nancy’s funeral include George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, My News LA reported, and Hillary Clinton, along with many other dignitaries. First Lady Michelle Obama will attend Nancy’s funeral, but President Barack Obama will not. Instead, he will be speaking at a South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. (Read more about Obama’s decision here.) President Obama ordered that flags on government and military property be flown at half-staff until Nancy Reagan’s burial.
2. The Public Can Pay Their Respects While She Is Lying in Repose
The public will have an opportunity to say goodbye to Nancy Reagan while she is lying in repose on Wednesday, March 9 and Thursday, March 10. The public can come and pay their respects at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific (4 to 10 p.m. Eastern) on Wednesday or 10 a.m. to 2 pm. on Thursday (1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern). For more details on how to get to the library and what you are allowed to bring inside, please see this story.
Nancy Reagan’s casket departed the funeral home on Wednesday, March 9, at 10 a.m. Pacific and arrived at the Reagan Library at approximately 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern). Eight U.S. Secret Service agents were pallbearers: Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Kinnersley, Supervisory Special Officer Christopher Cousino, and Special Agents Thomas Feuerborn, Tim Yoshitake, Cory Chhiap, Steven Kulpaca, Nathan Judd, and Melanie Lentz.
3. She Planned Her Service Personally, And It Will Include Reflections From Her Children and Tom Brokaw
Nancy Reagan planner her funeral service herself, “from the program participants to the flowers, peonies, her favorite,” People reported. The only thing the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation added was bagpipes at the end, because President Reagan loved bagpipe music.
You can read the plans for the entire ceremony here. Rev. Stuart A. Kentworthy of the Washington National Cathedral will preside over the service. A musical prelude will begin at 10:15 a.m. Then, the Santa Susana High School Choir will sing Battle Hymn of the Republic. Nancy Reagan’s niece, Anne Peterson, will read Proverbs 31:10-31. Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada, will read a letter from Ronald Reagan to Nancy. Then, Nancy Reagan’s nephew, Barton Hegeler, will read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, followed by Diane Sawyer reading John 14:1-6.
Opera singer Ana Maria Martinez will sing two songs during the service. Reflections will be shared by James A. Baker, Tom Brokaw, Nancy’s daughter Patti Davis, and her son Ron Reagan. Michael Reagan will not be sharing a message. He and his wife, Colleen, are in Asia on business, but their children Cameron and Ashley will attend in their place.
The pallbearers for the funeral service are Dr. Richard Davis, Mr. Robert Higdon, Jerrold Perenchio, Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., Robert H. Tuttle, Douglas Wick, and George Will.
4. There Are No Set Traditions for a First Lady’s Funeral Service
It’s not known exactly what will happen at Nancy Reagan’s funeral because there are no set-in-stone traditions for First Ladies’ funeral services, NBC News reported. First Ladies’ funerals don’t typically have all the ceremony and spectacle of their husbands’ funerals.
Federal and local governments, along with the sitting president, determine what is appropriate for the funeral service and it’s rarely the same from one First Lady to the next. For example, when Betty Ford died in 2011, flags weren’t flown at half-staff, according to NBC News. When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died in 1994 and Pat Nixon died in 1993, the White House had a 30-day mourning period.
5. She Will Be Buried Next to Her Husband, Ronald Reagan
After the funeral, Nancy Reagan’s interment will be next to her husband, Ronald Reagan, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The two had an absolutely amazing love story. Ronald Reagan once said about Nancy, in 1988:
What do you say about someone who gives your life meaning? What do you say about someone who’s always there with support and understanding, someone who makes sacrifices so that your life will be easier and more successful? Well, what you say is that you love that person and treasure her. I simply can’t imagine the last 8 years without Nancy.”