Borne aloft on the shoulders of eight military servicemen, the coffin of Margaret Thatcher was carried up the steps of London’s main cathedral on Wednesday for a funeral service attended by Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s political elite, and global dignitaries, Reuters reports.
In life, the woman the Soviet Union christened the “Iron Lady” divided the British public with her free-market policies which sometimes wrought wrenching change on communities. In death it is no different.
Thousands of supporters lined the streets of London as her casket made its final journey from the centre of British political power in Westminster to the service on top of a gun carriage draped in the red, white and blue British flag.
Most people clapped in respect but about two dozen opponents turned their backs on the procession.
Thatcher, who governed Britain from 1979 to 1990, died on April 8 after suffering a stroke.
“She was the first woman prime minister, she served for longer in the job than anyone for 150 years, she achieved some extraordinary things in her life,” said Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of Thatcher’s Conservative Party.
A handwritten note placed on a wreath of white flowers on her coffin read: “Beloved mother – always in our hearts”.
More than 700 armed forces personnel from units Thatcher led to victory in the 1982 Falklands War lined the streets. Police stood every 5-10 meters along the route.
Inside the cathedral, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip were among the invited mourners, who included political colleagues and rivals, dignitaries from around the world, 11 prime ministers and former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz.