The funeral of Baroness Thatcher

Crowds cheered as Thatcher's coffin approached St Paul's Cathedral. Image © of Hollie Borland

Crowds cheered as Thatcher’s coffin approached St Paul’s Cathedral. Image © of Hollie Borland

I arrived about 9:30 am. The funeral wasn’t due to start until 11 am, but crowds were gathering early. I had been up to London for the Royal Wedding in 2011 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, both of which were reasons for celebration. I approached this event with slight confusion: how I was supposed to behave at a funeral? Is it a happy celebration of life? Or is it a sombre reminder of death?

Walking from London Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral, the roads were closed in preparation for the procession from the funeral to the place of cremation. They were empty. No crowds, no swarms of people. It was a little bit eerie.

I arrived at St Paul’s and found the mourners in their thousands. But it wasn’t loud and raucous; instead it was quiet, respectful. After all of the focus on protests, about people causing havoc and showing contempt, the atmosphere was quite unexpected.

A man in a blue anorak and – despite the overcast weather – sunglasses, wondered over to the crowd and hollered “Keep the protest alive people! Keep it alive!” With shattered silence in the air, the atmosphere tensed.

“Shut up mate. Leave the protest out of it. Let the woman die in peace. Piss off.”

The man in the anorak looked taken aback by the lack of support and fell quite. He began to whistle ‘Always Look on the Brightside of Life’ loudly through his teeth. People scowled, and upon realising he was alone in his dissent, he slunk off.

Tony Blair thanks guests at the end of the service. As he proceeded to his cars, the ex-Labour Prime Minister received boos from the crowd

Tony Blair thanks guests at the end of the service. As he proceeded to his cars, the ex-Labour Prime Minister received boos from the crowd. Image © of Hollie Borland

The arrival of Tony Blair was swift. Three cars pulled up to the left of the cathedral and out came Blair and his wife, Cherie, bearing his trademark grin. Still it was quiet. Someone in the crowd murmured “dick head”, whilst another humourously muttered “he still thinks he’s on the Colgate advert doesn’t he?”

Contrastingly, Boris Johnson arrived unceremoniously through the crowd on the other side of the cathedral, on his own, with his straw-like hair billowing in the wind. The crowd clapped and some even wolf whistled! Only Boris. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had cycled there.

The Queen arrived to the national anthem and cheers from the crowd.

The procession was impressive, but not in your face. The sombre melody of the band swiftly evolved into something triumphant and conquering, and the crowd cheered as Thatcher’s coffin appeared. It was dignified, momentous.

As the funeral ended, the joyous bells of St Paul’s chimed and the crowd applauded. As the hearse drove through the throng of people, they clapped, waved flags and a supporter even shouted “Good girl”.

Contrary to popular predictions, the ceremony was an honourable event to commemorate the death of the longest running British Prime Minister of the twentieth century.

Left: William Hague, the foreign secretary as he leaves the funeral. Right: The Queen leaving the funeral

Left: William Hague, the foreign secretary as he leaves the funeral. Right: The Queen leaving the funeral. Image © of Hollie Borland

Margaret Thatcher dies age 87

Margaret Thatcher died at the Ritz hotel in London

Margaret Thatcher died at the Ritz hotel in London

Former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher has died aged 87, after suffering a stroke earlier this morning.

Lord Bell, Thatcher’s spokesperson, said: “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother, Baroness Thatcher, died peacefully following a stroke this morning.”

The Iron Lady died at the Ritz hotel in London, where she has been living, following an operation in December last year (2012). Neither of her children was with her when she died.

Over the past decade, Lady Thatcher has suffered regular bouts of illness, including a series of small strokes and dementia. She is to have a state funeral with military honours at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Prime Minister David Cameron has cut his European trip short and is set to return to London following the news. The flag at 10 Downing Street is currently flying at half-mast as a sign of respect for the former Prime Minister.

Baroness Thatcher was the first, and only, female British Prime Minister from 1979-1990, winning three successive general elections. She was a former member of the Conservative Party and is a controversial figure due to her radical reforms. Her death has caused mixed reactions worldwide.

Here are some celebrity tweets in response to the news of her death:

David Cameron @Number10gov

“It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton”

Barack Obama ‏@BarackObama

“She stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered.” —Obama on Margaret Thatcher’s passing

Harry Styles ‏@Harry_Styles

RIP Baroness Thatcher .x

Stephen Fry ‏@stephenfry

Was in the air when the news came in about Margaret Thatcher. Such a force in Britain through my university days through to my 30s

Ross Noble ‏@realrossnoble

Bloody typical Thatcher dies when I am in rural Australia. I hate to miss a good street party.

Lord Sugar ‏@Lord_Sugar

Baroness Thatcher in the 80’s kicked started the entrepreneurial revolution that allowed chirpy chappies to succeed and not just the elite

Rylan Ross Clark ‏@RylanClark

Getting a bit of backlash about thatcher, maybe I’m not up on history???

James Argent ‏@RealJamesArgent

Just heard Margaret Thatcher has died…Very sad news! RIP x

Geri Halliwell ‏@GeriHalliwell

Thinking of our 1st Lady of girl power ,Margaret Thatcher , a green grocer’s daughter who taught me any thing is possible…x

Piers Morgan ‏@piersmorgan

Brave, divisive, formidable, tough, stubborn, dominant & domineering, Margaret Thatcher bestrode the world like a political colossus. RIP

Sarah Millican ‏@SarahMillican75

A lot of miners are discovering they can dance today.

Johnny Vegas ‏@JohnnyVegasReal

Geography won’t allow myself to go right now but strongly suggest if you’re out in Manchester to get yerself down to @thelassogowrie #toppub