The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

April 17, 2013

Britain's Iron Lady laid to rest with full pomp

(Continued)

From there the coffin — draped in a Union flag and topped with white roses and a note from her children Mark and Carol reading "Beloved mother, always in our hearts" — was borne to the cathedral on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses.

Spectators lining the route broke into applause as the carriage passed by, although a few demonstrators staged silent protests by turning their backs on Thatcher's coffin. One man held a banner declaring "rest in shame."

An honor guard of soldiers in scarlet tunics and bearskin hats saluted the coffin as it approached St. Paul's, while red-coated veterans known as Chelsea Pensioners stood to attention on the steps.

Guests inside the cathedral included Thatcher's political colleagues, rivals and her successors as prime minister: John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Vice President Dick Cheney were among the American dignitaries, while notable figures from Thatcher's era included F.W. de Klerk, the last apartheid-era leader of South Africa; former Polish President Lech Walesa; ex-Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney; and entertainers such as "Dynasty" star Joan Collins, singer Shirley Bassey and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Thatcher's tenure coincided with — and influenced — the fall of the Berlin Wall and the "Reagan revolution" in the United States. Former U.S. first lady Nancy Reagan and onetime Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, both invitees with close ties to Thatcher's leadership, were kept away from the funeral by age. Argentine Ambassador Alicia Castro declined an invitation amid continuing acrimony over the 1982 Falklands War.

The ceremony was traditional, dignified and very British. Mourners entered to music by British composers, including Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and the service featured hymns and readings chosen by Thatcher, who grew up as a grocer's daughter in a hard-working Methodist household.

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