Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip attended the ceremonial funeral of Baroness Margaret Thatcher on April 17, 2013. Earlier in the week, rather than issue a formal statement of condolences, Buckingham Palace had let it be known that the Queen had sent a private message of condolences to the family of her former prime minister.
This subtle distinction was the Palace's way of showing that the Queen respected Baroness Thatcher not only on a political, but also a personal level.
Protestors and mourners lined the streets as Margaret Thatcher, who died of a stroke last week, was conveyed to St. Paul's Cathedral on a gun carriage, her coffin draped in a Union Jack flag. Britain's first and only female prime minister had suffered from dementia for a number of years, and died at the age of 87. She had been failing for quite some time and retired from public life in 2002.
According to The Guardian, the Bishop of London acknowledged that the country was deeply divided on whether Margaret Thatcher had been good for Britain, but also praised her “formidable” energy and the work she did for her country.
There was no nod to the supposed but not confirmed £10M cost of the funeral, which while not being an official state funeral was not terribly far off.
According to ITV, Minister for Cabinet Office Francis Maude said that the figure being bandied about was a “fantasy,” though no official figure has been released as yet. She also noted that the State always pays for the funeral of former prime ministers, and that the family, unusually, had also made a contribution.
CNN reported that some 2,000 people, drawn from dozens of countries, attended. Prime Minister Harper of Canada attended, as did Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger. Nancy Reagan, unable to attend herself, sent a representative.
The lineup of mourners was like seeing a glimpse into the history of 1980s; not only did every living former and present prime minster attend, but so too did famed 80s policians Michael Heseltine and Norman Tibbet, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and even Simon Weston, O.B.E., whose terribly burned body and subsequent courage became a symbol of the Falklands War.
The Queen, who wore the black that is only ever seen at funerals and Remembrance Sunday, and Prince Philip later greeted Carol and Mark Thatcher and their spouses and children, and after the funeral a reception was held in the London Guildhall.
According to The Guardian, today's funeral of Baroness Margaret Hilda Thatcher was the first time the Queen had attended the funeral of a prime minister since Sir Winston Churchill passed away. That, in itself, speaks volumes about what the Queen thinks.