Queen to attend Thatcher's funeral next Wednesday

Elaborate rites set next Wednesday for 'Iron Lady'
2013-04-10T00:00:00Z Queen to attend Thatcher's funeral next WednesdayHenry Chu Los Angeles Times Arizona Daily Star
April 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

LONDON - The funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Britain's longest-serving leader of the 20th century, will be held in St. Paul's Cathedral next Wednesday, officials said Tuesday.

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, are expected to attend what will be the most elaborate funeral to be staged in London since the death of the queen's mother in 2002. It will be the first funeral of a prime minister with the queen in attendance since the rites for Winston Churchill in 1965.

Thatcher, who died Monday at 87, will be given a ceremonial service with military honors, a service almost indistinguishable from an official state funeral.

Dignitaries from around the world will be on hand to remember the "Iron Lady" who transformed Britain through her free-market policies and thrust the country back onto the world stage through her staunch Cold War alliance with the U.S. and a war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands.

Thatcher's coffin is to be taken to a chapel inside the Palace of Westminster, where the houses of Parliament meet, on the night before her funeral. On Wednesday, the coffin will be borne through the streets of downtown London to St. Paul's Cathedral for the service, which will be televised live. A private cremation will follow.

The expected presence of the queen at Thatcher's funeral is an indication of the influence Britain's first and so far only female prime minister made, even though the two women, who were born six months apart, are believed to have had a frosty relationship.

Elizabeth is said to have disliked the social division that Thatcher's policies exacerbated among her subjects.

An influential and divisive figure in life, Thatcher dominated the national headlines in Britain in death. Television and radio stations broke into their regularly scheduled programming Monday and into Tuesday to broadcast obituaries, tributes and archival footage.

The conservative Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail newspapers devoted their front pages to the same smiling, backlighted portrait of Thatcher. "The Woman who saved Britain 1925-2013" read the Mail headline.

The Times published a special edition with a wrap-around cover showing Thatcher waving to the crowds during a visit to Moscow in 1987.

An editorial in the left-wing Guardian described Thatcher's legacy as "public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed that together shackle the human spirit."

But the paper acknowledged that she left an indelible mark on British public life.

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