The government has decided that Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is to be given the greatest honour a nation can bestow, a state funeral. Thatcher will be the first British Prime Minister since Winston Churchill to be afforded such an honour. However the plan to grant the same distinction to Lady Thatcher may prove more divisive as to this day, the mention of her name can spark an argument as this blog knows all to well! Yet that is itself a mark of her uniqueness. Lady Thatcher is – and will always remain – a major figure to supporters and opponents alike. Not only did she transform Britain’s economy and culture. Her resolve won her admirers among the people of the former Soviet Empire, whom she helped liberate. Her courage and single-mindedness likewise made her a legend in the United States where even to this day her name is recieved with warmth, respect and enthusiasm.
There is not a country in the world where her name is not still recognised. I agree that it might seem improper to discuss a living person’s funeral but it is another mark of Lady Thatcher’s uniqueness that this is not so in her case. Having survived an assassination attempt and lived through a hurricane of abuse, she is not likely to object to these discussions! This announcement should serve as a timely reminder to Labour supporters who detest Lady Thatcher, that even their own leadership understand what she did was not only neccessary but has given the country remarkable stability which they have enjoyed. They can scream and shout all they like but the fact remains it is the Labour government that have set these plans in motion and it is the Labour leadership that recognise that they and the country owe Thatcher an enormous debt of gratitude.
In a separate unique proposal, the Queen has also given her permission for Lady Thatcher to lie in the Chapel of St Mary’s Undercroft immediately beneath Westminster Hall on the night before her funeral. Family friends and VIPs would be able to visit the chapel to pay their last respects. It is not decided whether she will be afforded the honour of lying in state at Westminster Hall. Informed sources last night confirmed that the Queen and Gordon Brown had given their blessing to the preparation of funeral arrangements for Lady Thatcher in recognition both of her achievements and for being Britain’s first woman Prime Minister. I always believed that the country would give her a state funeral and I am delighted that the plans are now officially in place.