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March 8, 2021

Margaret Thatcher funeral set for next week

Global leaders speak up for “Iron Lady” as legacy of Britain’s first female prime minister remains divided at home.

The funeral of Baroness Thatcher will take place on Wednesday, 17 April, Downing Street has announced, according to the BBC. The funeral ceremony, with full military honours, will take place at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, following a procession from Westminster. The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will attend the service, Buckingham Palace said.

Lady Thatcher will not have a state funeral but will be accorded the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.A ceremonial funeral is one rung down from a state funeral – normally reserved for monarchs – and requires the consent of the Queen. A Downing Street spokesman said the details had been agreed at a “co-ordination meeting” between the Thatcher family and Buckingham Palace on Tuesday morning. Several of Tuesday’s newspapers in the UK focused on how divisive the leader was, Al Jazeera says. “The woman who divided a nation,” ran the Daily Mirror’s headline, “Loved, hated, never forgotten,” said The Northern Echo.

Some left-wingers, including in south London – the scene of fierce rioting in the 1980s, blamed on deep social divisions as well as racial tensions – convened a street party to celebrate. Thatcher’s government privatised several state-owned industries and was involved in a year-long stand-off with unions during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5. The coal miners’ union issued a statement on Monday saying “good riddance” to the former prime minister. There were also signs of celebration in Argentina. Thatcher sent a task force to recapture the Falkland Islands after a 1982 invasion by Argentine forces, in an operation she considered one of the triumphs of her rule. The Socialist Worker newspaper led with a one word headline: “Rejoice!”, while the Morning Star, another title focusing on trade union issues, said Thatcher was “the woman who tore Britain apart.” Prime Minister David Cameron has described Lady Thatcher as a “great Briton” and international leaders, including US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have praised her.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who held frequent meetings with Thatcher at the end of the Cold War, said she was a “great politician” who will go down in history, Interfax reports. But small gatherings happened on Monday night in various parts of the UK. Seven officers were injured in Bristol, where violent broke out and bins were set alight. One person was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has said people should not celebrate the death of Baroness Thatcher. Later on Monday, “street parties” were held in Londonderry and west Belfast as well as other parts of the UK. In a tweet, Mr McGuinness said people should “resist celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher”. He added: “She was not a peacemaker but it is a mistake to allow her death to poison our minds.”.

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