Setting aside political differences, hundreds of people on Wednesday turned up to bid farewell to Margaret Thatcher as Britain’s first woman prime minister, who died last week aged 87, was laid to rest with full military honours.
The Big Ben on the Palace of Westminster fell silent as a mark of respect while the Queen broke with precedent to attend a former prime minister’s funeral. She lead the mourners at St Paul’s Cathedral where more than 2,000 foreign dignitaries gathered to pay their last respects.
The only previous occasion when the Queen attended a former’s leader’s funeral was Winston Churchill’s state ceremony in 1965.
Prime Minister David Cameron hailed it as a "fitting tribute to a great prime minister." Dr.Farooq Abdullah, Minister for New and Renewable Energy, who represented India at the funeral described Baroness Thatcher as "a transformative figure of global standing."
Barring a few mild jeers, the threatened protests failed to materialize even as questioned continued to be raised over a £10 million tax-funded funeral at a time of deep economic crisis.
Large crowds lined the heavily-guarded route of the ceremonial funeral as Baroness Thatcher’s coffin-- draped in a Union Jack and mounted on a gun carriage carried by six black horses -- wound its way through Whitehall, past Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament before arriving St Paul’s cathedral. A hand-written card from her two children , Mark land Carol placed in a single large white flower arrangement on the coffin read: "Beloved mother, always in our hearts".
At St Paul’s, the Bishop of London, Reverend Richard Chartres, led the tributes in a simple service attended by Britain’s political and social elite.
Alluding to the debate over Baroness Thatcher’s divisive legacy, he said "today is neither the time nor the place" for political debate".
"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 said.