The Queen led mourners at the ceremonial funeral of Baroness Thatcher in St Paul’s Cathedral as thousands lined the streets of London to pay their respects to the first female prime minister of theUK.
Lady Thatcher, who died last week aged 87, was given full military honours, with the coffin bearing her body brought in procession to the cathedral on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses.
At St Paul’s, a congregation of more than 2,300 included all of her successors as prime minister - Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron - as well as dignitaries from 170 countries worldwide.
They heard an address from Bishop of London Richard Chartres which, in keeping with the former PM’s request for a religious funeral service rather than a memorial with eulogies, focused on her humanity rather than her political legacy.
Hailing Lady Thatcher’s ‘perseverance and courage’, the Bishop recalled the obstacles she had to overcome to enter Parliament as a woman in 1959 and rise to the leadership of the Conservative Party, and spoke of the ‘courtesy and personal kindness’ she showed to those working for her.
Insisting that a funeral was not the place to pass judgment on her political record, he said: “The storm of conflicting opinions centres on the Mrs Thatcher who became a symbolic figure - even an `ism’. Today the remains of the real Margaret Hilda Thatcher are here at her funeral service.
“Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings.”
A clearly-moved Chancellor George Osborne wiped tears from his eyes during the 55-minute ceremony, which was attended by all members of the Cabinet as well as Labour leader and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband. He later tweeted: “A moving, almost overwhelming day.”
Also present were more than 30 members of the Iron Lady’s cabinets from 1979-1990, including Lord Heseltine and Lord Howe, whose challenges to her leadership triggered her removal from power.