Margaret Thatcher laid to rest

Britain has laid to rest one of its most influential and divisive Prime Ministers in modern history.



Margaret Thatcher was the country’s longest serving leader of the 20th Century.


Over two-thousand representatives from 170 countries attended her funeral service in London, with thousands more watching on from outside St Paul’s Cathedral.


Darren Mara has the details.


The bells of St Paul’s Cathedral rang out across central London to mark the arrival of the coffin of Margaret Thatcher.


Thousands had been waiting outside the cathedral under grey skies in the hours leading to Baroness Thatcher’s funeral service.


It was a time for Britons and others around the world to remember a woman who loomed large over the latter part of the 20th Century.


Baroness Thatcher’s coffin, draped with a Union Flag, was borne on a gun carriage to St Paul’s, nine days after she died from a stroke at the age of 87.


It was a ceremonial funeral with full military honours.


At her request, it was not a state funeral, but has been compared in its grandeur and scale to the state funeral given to Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill in 1965.


Indeed, Baroness Thatcher’s was the first funeral for a former Prime Minister since Mr Churchill’s to be attended by the ruling British monarch, Queen Elizabeth.


The Dean of St Paul’s, the Reverend David Ison, opened the service: “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. We remember the values by which she lived. The ideals she embraced – her dignity, her diligence, her courtesy and her personal concern for the wellbeing of individuals.”


The Bishop of London Richard Chartres, who was a close friend of Lady Thatcher, said she became a “mythological” figure in British society during and after her time in office.


“The storm of conflicting opinions centres on the Mrs Thatcher, who became a symbolic figure, even an ‘ism’ (Thatcherism). But today the remains of the real Margaret Hilde Thatcher are, here at her funeral service, lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings.”


Bishop Chartres went on praise Lady Thatcher’s resilience as a politician, especially in the face of discrimination because she was a woman.


“By the time she entered parliament in 1959, she was part of a cohort of only four per cent of women in the House of Commons. She had experienced many rebuffs along the way, often on the shortlist for candidates, only to be disqualified by prejudice against a woman and, worse, a woman with children.”


Thousands of well-wishers applauded as the coffin of the so-called “Iron Lady” left St Paul’s Cathedral.


Amongst her admirers, Baroness Thatcher will be remembered for her rapprochement with the Soviet Union, which helped bring about the fall of Soviet Communism.


During her 11 years as leader she also oversaw the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina, considered the defining moment of her Prime Ministership.


Supporter John Loughrey explains why he came to pay his respects.


“She will be talked about in 500 years’ time. She is one of our greatest Prime Ministers of all time and also our first woman Prime Minister and I couldn’t miss that because I will never get the opportunity to see this again in my lifetime.”


But just as mourners gathered to remember Margaret Thatcher, so did groups of protesters as the debate over her legacy continues.


Under Margaret Thatcher, free market economics prospered and Britain’s heavy industry struggled.


Her policies prompted lengthy and bitter industrial disputes that gave her many long-lasting working-class enemies..


The demonstrators at the funderal were shouting against what they termed attempts to idolise her.


Hundreds of protesters turned their backs as her funeral cortege went by, booing and chanting “Maggie, Maggie Maggie! Dead, dead, dead!”


This protester was opposed to the huge cost of the funeral: “There are people that are unable to pay their fuel bills, They are in energy poverty, There are people who are selling their homes to pay their care bills. There are people who are having benefit cuts. I really feel that even Margaret Thatcher would have said 10 million pounds on a funeral in this economic climate is inappropriate.”


Lady Thatcher’s coffin was taken to the Royal Hospital Chelsea ahead of a private cremation at the Mortlake Crematorium in London.

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