The funeral of Baroness Thatcher, Conservative Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, has taken place at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London. Lady Thatcher died on Monday, 8 April, at the age of 87, after suffering a stroke. Her coffin was taken by gun carriage to the cathedral, accompanied by members of the armed forces, who also lined the route. Some 2,300 people attended the funeral, including the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Prime Minister David Cameron. Lady Thatcher’s coffin will rest at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, before a private cremation later on Wednesday.
A protest was staged along the route of the funeral procession, although the crowds include many thousands of well-wishers. Baroness Thatcher is at peace after “a life led in the heat of political controversy”, the Bishop London has said in his funeral sermon. The Right Reverend Richard Chartres paid tribute to her forthright character, Methodist upbringing and the compassion she showed to others. Prime Minister David Cameron has called the funeral a “fitting tribute to a great prime minister”. Four thousand police officers are on duty in central London, with large crowds along the route of her funeral procession, which was conducted with full military honours.
There were reports of some protests but the Right Reverend Chartres told the congregation in St Paul’s “today is neither the time nor the place” for political debate.As well as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, all 32 members of the current cabinet attended the service, along with more than 30 members of Lady Thatcher’s cabinets from her time as prime minister. As night turned to day, crowds were already lining the barriers opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, many with Union flags and all in good spirits. Some have been here for more than 24 hours, with little more comfort than raincoats, fold-up chairs, flasks of hot tea and sandwiches.Among the foreign dignitaries expected to attend were Kuwaiti prime minister Sheikh Jaber Mubark Al-Sabah, the son of the ruler of Kuwait Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al Sabah, and Italian prime minister Mario Monti.
Notable absences were former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who could not attend due to ill health, and former US first lady Nancy Reagan, who was also unable to come.
There are more than 50 guests associated with the Falkland Islands, including veterans from the 1982 conflict with Argentina, but Argentina’s ambassador to London, Alicia Castro, has declined an invitation to attend. In total, two current heads of state, 11 serving prime ministers and 17 serving foreign ministers from around the world will attend.Six police forces from outside London have sent specialist officers to help with escorting foreign dignitaries. Various roads along the route were closed from 07:30 BST, and Transport for London has advised drivers to avoid Westminster and the City of London.