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Margaret Thatcher funeral – thousands line streets to witness final journey

The Guardian

By Caroline Davies

Excerpts from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/17/margaret-thatcher-funeral-streets-procession

_9631475658Lady Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, was borne to St Paul’s Cathedral for a ceremonial funeral as thousands lined central London‘s streets to witness her final journey.

Although not officially a state funeral, as accorded to Sir Winston Churchill, the event was conducted with a level of pomp and ceremony not witnessed in London since the death of the Queen Mother in 2002.

Her children, Sir Mark Thatcher and his twin sister Carol, and her American grandchildren, Michael and Amanda, listened as the bishop of London, acknowledging the bitter debate over her legacy, said this was not the time or place for such matters.

In a powerful address, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, a friend of Thatcher, who died last week aged 87 following a stroke, defended her and firmly rejected the assertion that she did not believe in society. She had overcome hurdles and experienced many rebuffs, and applied herself to work with “formidable energy and passion”, he said.

Acknowledging her as a polarising figure, he told the congregation: “After the storm of a life led in the heat of political controversy, there is a great calm.

“The storm of conflicting opinions centres on the Mrs Thatcher who became a symbolic figure – even an ‘ism’.”

“Today the remains of the real Margaret Hilda Thatcher are here at her funeral service. Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings.” He continued: “There is an important place for debating policies and legacy; for assessing the impact of political decisions on the everyday lives of individuals and communities. Parliament held a frank debate last week – but here and today is neither the time nor the place.”_6701162195

Here, at the funeral service, devoid of eulogies at Thatcher’s own request, was a place “for the simple truths which transcend political debate. Above all it is a place for hope.”

Earlier, the longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century had left parliament for the last time as a hearse took her body from the crypt chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster, where it rested last night, to the RAF church of St Clement Danes in the Strand.

There was gentle clapping as the cortege, with police motorcycle escort, drove slowly through cordoned-off streets. Big Ben fell silent. The cortege made its way went past the gates of Downing Street, her home for the 11 tumultuous years she held power and which she said goodbye to almost a quarter of a century ago, past Trafalgar Square, scene of the bitter poll tax demonstrations, and into the Strand. Union flags and the national flags of the UK were lowered to half mast.

The crowds were deep, and for the most part supportive. But there was booing, too. At Ludgate Circus, where several hundred protesters turned their backs on the coffin. there was a highly charged atmosphere with chanting of “what a waste of money” and “Tory scum”, as heated exchanges broke out between demonstrators and Thatcher supporters.

The prime minister, David Cameron, had said the funeral was a “fitting tribute” to a major national figure, and urged the Iron Lady’s political opponents to show respect during the event.

A gun salute fired at one-minute intervals from the Tower of London, as a single half-muffled bell at St Paul’s tolled.

Amanda ThatcherThatcher’s grandchildren, Michael and Amanda, walked ahead of the coffin as it entered the cathedral, carrying cushions bearing the insignia of the Order of the Garter and Order of Merit, which were laid on the altar.

The national anthem heralded the arrival of the Queen at St Paul’s at 10.45am, her presence elevating Thatcher’s ceremonial funeral to that of state funeral in all but name. It was the first time she has attended the funeral of one of her prime ministers since Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral in 1965.

“We recall with great gratitude her leadership of this nation, her courage, her steadfastness, and her resolve to accomplish what she believed to be right for the common good.”

The service, planned many years ago in consultation with Thatcher, and with her relatives since, was traditional and simple.

Thatcher chose the hymns He Who Would Valiant Be, the Charles Wesley hymn Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, reflecting the influence of her Methodist upbringing, and the patriotic verse I Vow to Thee My Country.

The organ played Psalm 84, set to the music of Johannes Brahms, which is the same piece Thatcher chose to be played at the funeral of her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, in 2003. Thatcher’s American granddaughter, Amanda, 19, read from the King James Bible, Ephesians 6, 10-18, while Cameron gave the second reading, John 14, 1-6.

Inside, politicians past and present, friends and erstwhile political foes joined together.

Three former prime ministers – John Major, Thatcher’s Tory successor, and the Labour leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – took their seats beneath the 111-metre dome.

A wide section of society was reflected in the guest list, including the broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan, the Welsh classical singer Katherine Jenkins and the Duchess of York, former wife of the Queen’s second son.

Dignitaries were drawn from 170 countries, including 11 serving prime ministers and 17 serving foreign ministers. Sir Geoffrey Howe, Thatcher’s ex-chancellor who many believe played a significant role in her eventual political downfall, was in attendance, as well as the current chancellor, George Osborne, the Tory grandee Ken Clarke, the London mayor, Boris Johnson, the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, and the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

Johnson said outside: “Even for her fans and supporters like me, I don’t think we expected to see quite so many people turn up to show their affection and their respect for Margaret Thatcher. It is a quite astonishing crowd.”

The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who has led government preparations for the event, insisted the cost would be “much, much less” than the reported figure of £10m, but no official estimate has yet been released.

After the funeral up to 1,600 family members, friends and dignitaries were attending a reception at the City of London’s Guildhall.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

The Guardian

By Caroline Davies

Excerpts from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/17/margaret-thatcher-funeral-streets-procession

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_9631475658Lady Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, was borne to St Paul’s Cathedral for a ceremonial funeral as thousands lined central London‘s streets to witness her final journey.

Although not officially a state funeral, as accorded to Sir Winston Churchill, the event was conducted with a level of pomp and ceremony not witnessed in London since the death of the Queen Mother in 2002.

Her children, Sir Mark Thatcher and his twin sister Carol, and her American grandchildren, Michael and Amanda, listened as the bishop of London, acknowledging the bitter debate over her legacy, said this was not the time or place for such matters.

In a powerful address, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, a friend of Thatcher, who died last week aged 87 following a stroke, defended her and firmly rejected the assertion that she did not believe in society. She had overcome hurdles and experienced many rebuffs, and applied herself to work with “formidable energy and passion”, he said.

Acknowledging her as a polarising figure, he told the congregation: “After the storm of a life led in the heat of political controversy, there is a great calm.

“The storm of conflicting opinions centres on the Mrs Thatcher who became a symbolic figure – even an ‘ism’.”

“Today the remains of the real Margaret Hilda Thatcher are here at her funeral service. Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings.” He continued: “There is an important place for debating policies and legacy; for assessing the impact of political decisions on the everyday lives of individuals and communities. Parliament held a frank debate last week – but here and today is neither the time nor the place.”_6701162195

Here, at the funeral service, devoid of eulogies at Thatcher’s own request, was a place “for the simple truths which transcend political debate. Above all it is a place for hope.”

Earlier, the longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century had left parliament for the last time as a hearse took her body from the crypt chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster, where it rested last night, to the RAF church of St Clement Danes in the Strand.

There was gentle clapping as the cortege, with police motorcycle escort, drove slowly through cordoned-off streets. Big Ben fell silent. The cortege made its way went past the gates of Downing Street, her home for the 11 tumultuous years she held power and which she said goodbye to almost a quarter of a century ago, past Trafalgar Square, scene of the bitter poll tax demonstrations, and into the Strand. Union flags and the national flags of the UK were lowered to half mast.

The crowds were deep, and for the most part supportive. But there was booing, too. At Ludgate Circus, where several hundred protesters turned their backs on the coffin. there was a highly charged atmosphere with chanting of “what a waste of money” and “Tory scum”, as heated exchanges broke out between demonstrators and Thatcher supporters.

The prime minister, David Cameron, had said the funeral was a “fitting tribute” to a major national figure, and urged the Iron Lady’s political opponents to show respect during the event.

A gun salute fired at one-minute intervals from the Tower of London, as a single half-muffled bell at St Paul’s tolled.

Amanda ThatcherThatcher’s grandchildren, Michael and Amanda, walked ahead of the coffin as it entered the cathedral, carrying cushions bearing the insignia of the Order of the Garter and Order of Merit, which were laid on the altar.

The national anthem heralded the arrival of the Queen at St Paul’s at 10.45am, her presence elevating Thatcher’s ceremonial funeral to that of state funeral in all but name. It was the first time she has attended the funeral of one of her prime ministers since Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral in 1965.

“We recall with great gratitude her leadership of this nation, her courage, her steadfastness, and her resolve to accomplish what she believed to be right for the common good.”

The service, planned many years ago in consultation with Thatcher, and with her relatives since, was traditional and simple.

Thatcher chose the hymns He Who Would Valiant Be, the Charles Wesley hymn Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, reflecting the influence of her Methodist upbringing, and the patriotic verse I Vow to Thee My Country.

The organ played Psalm 84, set to the music of Johannes Brahms, which is the same piece Thatcher chose to be played at the funeral of her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, in 2003. Thatcher’s American granddaughter, Amanda, 19, read from the King James Bible, Ephesians 6, 10-18, while Cameron gave the second reading, John 14, 1-6.

Inside, politicians past and present, friends and erstwhile political foes joined together.

Three former prime ministers – John Major, Thatcher’s Tory successor, and the Labour leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – took their seats beneath the 111-metre dome.

A wide section of society was reflected in the guest list, including the broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan, the Welsh classical singer Katherine Jenkins and the Duchess of York, former wife of the Queen’s second son.

Dignitaries were drawn from 170 countries, including 11 serving prime ministers and 17 serving foreign ministers. Sir Geoffrey Howe, Thatcher’s ex-chancellor who many believe played a significant role in her eventual political downfall, was in attendance, as well as the current chancellor, George Osborne, the Tory grandee Ken Clarke, the London mayor, Boris Johnson, the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, and the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

Johnson said outside: “Even for her fans and supporters like me, I don’t think we expected to see quite so many people turn up to show their affection and their respect for Margaret Thatcher. It is a quite astonishing crowd.”

The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who has led government preparations for the event, insisted the cost would be “much, much less” than the reported figure of £10m, but no official estimate has yet been released.

After the funeral up to 1,600 family members, friends and dignitaries were attending a reception at the City of London’s Guildhall.