Thatcher ceremonial funeral to be held on April 17th

Former British PM to receive full military honours like those for Princess Diana

Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 14:44

Late former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher will receive a funeral just one step short of a full state ceremony on April 17th, the British government announced, a day after the UK's only woman prime minister died at the age of 87 following a stroke.

The former premier will receive a ceremonial funeral in London's St Paul's Cathedral with full military honours - the same status as accorded to the Queen Mother in 2002 and Diana Princess of Wales in 1997, in recognition of her influence on the nation.

The date was decided after consultation with Ms Thatcher's family and Buckingham Palace, prime minister David Cameron's office said in an e-mailed statement.

Queen Elizabeth II will attend the funeral accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, her office said. It is the first time she will have attended a service for a former prime minister since the funeral of Britain's wartime leader, Winston Churchill, in 1965.

Both houses of parliament have been recalled from their Easter vacation tomorrow to pay tribute to Mrs Thatcher, who was prime minister from 1979 to 1990.

Lawmakers from the Conservative Party have praised her strength of character and her economic reforms.

Former British Labour prime minister Tony Blair said celebrations of Thatcher’s death were in poor taste. “Even if you disagree with someone very strongly, you can still particularly at the moment of their passing, you should show some respect,” he told Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio Ulster. When asked if he worried there would be similar celebrations when he dies, Tony Blair said “When you decide, you divide. I think she would be pretty philisophical about it and I hope I will be too.”

Policies questioned

Meanwhile, political opponents questioned policies that that led to the decline of traditional industries such as mining and drove unemployment to a postwar high of 3.3 million in the mid-1980s.

"I'm saddened obviously by the death but I'm almost amused by the way she still polarises debate," Ken Clarke, currently a minister without portfolio who also served in Mrs Thatcher's government, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The right and the left have created myths about her government. They're fighting them out even over her memory."

Tom Pine, a lecturer in disaster management at the University of Hertfordshire who served in London's Metropolitan Police Service for 32 years, said the authorities planning the funeral procession will be anxious to prevent any disruption by Thatcher's political opponents.

"The police will be concerned that someone will try to disrupt or attack the funeral cortege to get maximum publicity for their political views," Mr Pine said in a telephone interview.