A little 'keepsake' with which to remember Baroness Thatcher.


On many occasions since the death of the Baroness [Monday 8th April 2013], the media has compared the funeral which is being given to Mrs Thatcher on Wednesday 17th April 2013 with those given to Diana The Princess of Wales and to HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.  You can compare their Funeral Programmes here with that for Mrs Thatcher  [a] for Diana The Princess of Wales looking at story number 3, and, [b] for HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother THE FUNERAL PROGRAMME FOR HM QUEEN ELIZABETH THE QUEEN MOTHER.pdf. As I have already stated on more than one of my many pages on the subject of Royalty, the funeral of the Queen's sister, HRH The Princess Margaret, was a small family affair having a small London presence with a laying-in-state in the Queen's Chapel at St James' Palace for family members to pay their final respects, followed by a service in St George's Chapel at Windsor and then a private cremation in the nearby town of Slough. After her cremation, her ashes were kept in a casket in the royal tomb under the nave of St George's until her mothers death, along with those of King Charles I and King Henry VIII etc .  At that point, The Queen Mother was buried alongside her husband who had died fifty years before, and the casket was removed from the tomb and placed in her parents grave. The true comparison is not person on person, but church on church, for notwithstanding the importance of the person, the star place, at least for funerals [and was for weddings until HRH The Prince of Wales broke the unwritten rules and married his bride Diana Spencer at St Paul's] was Westminster Abbey, grabbed not unnaturally by Royalty [the Sovereign owns and controls the Abbey] leaving St Paul's Cathedral up for grabs by the next group of famous people namely the politicians. 

We are therefore, comparing Sir Winston Churchill with Baroness Thatcher, and here there is and can be no competition - Churchill wins outright.

Both Diana and Elizabeth had their funerals conducted in Westminster Abbey, and both left the Abbey by motor hearse one heading for Windsor and one for Althorp Park half way up the M1 motorway, both for interment.

What is known, though I sometimes fear incompletely, is that Baroness Thatcher in her time made sure that her husband would be knighted in order that their son Mark, would assume the rights of that knighthood after the death of his father: he could inherit nothing from his mother. Also, that her funeral was not a State but a Ceremonial funeral.  The incomplete thing I have mentioned above, concerns the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill who in his life time received in excess of twenty major honours, awards and medals, and these were of the highest kind and from many countries.  His funeral was said to be State funeral, but it is easy to think of and remember that the part of the funeral north of the River Thames was State, but the part on the river itself and south of the river was a private family funeral, even though the media cameras continued to roll and military coffin bearers attended his coffin!  The State funeral started at Parliament, then travelled up Whitehall, across the bottom of Trafalgar Square, along the Strand, down Fleet Street, up Ludgate Hill into St Pauls Cathedral, and subsequently along Cannon Street, Eastgate, to Tower Hill and to Tower Pier.  The moment the PLA vessels left the pier, it became a private funeral but still employing the original coffin bearers taken from the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, who were to lift and lower the heavy coffin no fewer than five times that day, a feat or strength, endurance and dignified duty. When the hearse left the Royal Festival Hall Pier, it was met on the concourse of Waterloo Station by a new set of coffin bearers this time from the Queens Irish Hussars who were to place the coffin on the train.  It is not known whether these same soldiers travelled on the train or not, but at Bladon, the same regiment was used to lower the coffin into the grave this time dressed only in  khaki, gone were the splendid cavalry long coats, leggings, trappings and spurs evident at the meet on Waterloo's Platform 11.  Whether by design or coincidence, the same station platform [11] was used fourteen years [1979] later for the departure of the Royal Train carrying the body of Lord Mountbatten to Romsey for interment in the town's Abbey - see this file . Apart from the ultimate reward of a State Funeral, the only one granted to a commoner in the twentieth century, he was also granted a nineteen gun salute as opposed to a seventeen gun salute, the first and last for a commoner. I have a great interest in Britain's splendid funerals, especially after having taken a leading role in a Royal Funeral, and it is of interest to note a little group of men [north of the river] and therefore still a part of Churchill's State funeral, where, ceremonially, the highest person in the land, The Earl Marshall,  Duke of Norfolk, walked in front of the coffin with Lord Mountbatten, Chief of the Defence Staff CDS]  immediately behind it: behind Lord Mountbatten were the three defence chiefs from the Navy, Army and Air Force. Just that little group separated from all others I found very poignant and it occurred when taking the coffin over the wooden foot bridge to Tower Pier at the end of the State funeral.

However, in the case of St Paul's Cathedral, Sir Winston Churchill, who was offered the senior non-Royal Dukedom as a reward for his service [but turned it down] namely The Duke of London, he arrived for his service on a proper gun carriage [a naval gun carriage] and also left after the service on the same gun carriage to continue his farewell to the London and country which he so dearly loved. The gun carriage took his coffin to Tower Hill and thence to Tower Pier where the bearers lifted his coffin over the old zig-zag wooden bridge and onto the floating Tower Pier. His coffin was placed on the PLA [Port of London Authority] barge, the HAVENGORE with the mourners embarking in the barge the THAME astern and then transported across river under the bridges of  London, Southwark, Blackfriars Rail, Blackfriars Road and Waterloo to the pier of the Royal Festival Hall. There, the coffin was transferred to a motor hearse for the short drive to Waterloo Station where, on Platform 11, a train connected to an engine called Winston Churchill [brought out of semi retirement for the task] was waiting. When all was ready, Sir Winston said his last goodbye to his beloved city and the train set off on the London to Worcester line stopping at a tiny station called HANDBOROUGH for BLENHEIM - 70 miles and nearly two hours distant from London. The final motor hearse carried his body to the village of Bladon some two miles distant and by that time on the pen ultimate day of January it was getting dark. There was a rushed {or was that brilliant and quintessential British planning?] very private service which lasted for fifteen minutes and he was interned in the yard of St Martin's just as darkness was falling. During the street State funeral procession, two great men spoke to us from the Crypt of St Pauls. One, the august and much admired Prime Minister of Australia Sir Robert Menzies and the other the incomparable and fiercely patriotic WW2 Supremo and later President of the USA, General Eisenhower. Both spoke volumes about Churchill's achievements, both agreeing that by mentioning the word 'FREEDOM' meant mentioning this great leader who endured much and achieved the near impossible.

Baroness Thatcher, on the other hand arrived at the Cathedral on what is becoming known as the ladies gun carriage [pulled by horses instead of by strong sailors and used by The Queen Mother, The Princess of Wales and now the Baroness], leaving after the service in a hearse, which took her to West London, to the Mortlake Crematorium. Coincident with that, the Thatcher family and invited friends and colleagues joined the Lord Mayor of London in the City for a reception at Mansion House. After the reception the Thatcher family group travelled to Mortlake for the private cremation.  Some time afterwards, her ashes {contained in a casket}  were interred into the grave of her husband Sir Dennis Thatcher who is buried in the graveyard of Chelsea Pensioners Hospital.

The size, splendour and sheer numbers of personnel taking part cannot begin to be compared with the former funerals involving the navy with their gun carriage[s] for royal men [post WW2 King George VI and Lord Mountbatten] and Sir Winston, so the true comparison to reach a pecking order is amongst the ladies.  Here, despite the adulation and sense of importance put around by those taking part in the funeral on the 17th April, the order of importance, size and grandeur  is without doubt or argument, in the order from top to bottom, first Diana, then Elizabeth and then Margaret, {HRH The Princess Margaret Countess of Snowdon being excluded for the reasons mentioned above}. 

The days of grand funerals are regrettably well past, and even if we had the money, we wouldn't have the personnel but we would have the skill, style and panache were our service personnel allowed to show it as we were allowed. I, like so many other ex servicemen, much regret that the boys and girls of today are denied this showing-off which we had and which we enjoyed in great measure.  Good luck to you my friends and God Bless.


On the 25th April, the Government revealed the interim costs of Baroness Thatcher's funeral. To the tax payer it is said to be 3.6M. 2M for "opportunity costs" with the Thatcher family agreeing to pay their share of some of the costs including the undertaker and the flowers. Ceremonial costs at St Pauls, the Mansion House and for the printing and distribution of invitations came to 500k.  1.1M went on providing additional security and policing. A large cost to the tax payer, but not for the funeral itself, but to make sure the vocal masses did not interrupt it or bring an unacceptable intrusion into what was, and had to be, a dignified affair for a great Prime Minister and a great lady. Thus, those who most complain on the streets of London about the cost, are the very people who caused it! Blame them.


Baroness Thatcher Finally Laid To Rest

Baroness Thatcher is laid to rest alongside her late husband, Sir Denis, after a small, private ceremony for family and friends.

Interment of Lady Thatcher's ashes

Margaret Thatcher 1925-2003


Baroness Thatcher's ashes have been laid to rest in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London.

Her children, Sir Mark and Carol Thatcher, attended a short service in the chapel there before a solid oak casket containing her ashes was placed in the ground alongside those of her husband Sir Denis, who died in 2003.

A simple headstone bearing the inscription Margaret Thatcher 1925 2013 marks the site of the final resting place of Britain's first and only woman prime minister.

Interment of Lady Thatcher's ashes
Lady Thatcher's ashes are carried ahead of her son Sir Mark and his wife

Lady Thatcher died aged 87 on April 8.

The longest-serving prime minister of the twentieth century, Lady Thatcher was given a ceremonial funeral with full military honours at St Paul's Cathedral on April 18, attended by more than 2,300 mourners including the Queen.

It was in stark contrast to Saturday's private service at All Saints Chapel in the hospital's Margaret Thatcher Infirmary, which she opened in 2009.

Interment of Lady Thatcher's ashes
Carol Thatcher, her twin brother Mark and his wife Sarah

The small group of mourners included Lady Thatcher's former private secretary Lord Powell and Lord Bell, her former political adviser.

Sir Mark, his wife Sarah and Carol took it in turns to place a single red rose alongside the casket.

Carol, who wore sunglasses, comforted Cynthia Crawford, who was Lady Thatcher's personal assistant for more than 30 years.

Interment of Lady Thatcher's ashesInterment of Lady Thatcher's ashes
Carol and Sir Mark leave a single red rose alongside the casket

Prayers were said while music was provided by the chapel choir who sang Po Atarau, a traditional Maori song of goodbye in recognition of Lady Thatcher's family connections with New Zealand.

Lady Thatcher built up a strong relationship with the Royal Hospital Chelsea during the last 10 years of her life and her final resting place was chosen by her.

She was elected MP for Finchley in 1959 and served as Conservative prime minister between 1979 and 1990.