46° Good Afternoon
46° Good Afternoon

Thatcher laid to rest in London

LONDON -- Margaret Thatcher was laid to rest yesterday with prayers and ceremony, plus cheers and occasional jeers, as Britain paused to remember a leader who transformed the country -- for the better according to many, but in some eyes for the worse.

Soaring hymns, Biblical verse and fond remembrances echoed under the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, as 2,300 relatives, friends, colleagues and dignitaries attended a ceremonial funeral for Britain's only female prime minister.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, current and former prime ministers and representatives from 170 countries were among those packing the cathedral, where Bishop of London Richard Chartres spoke of the strong feelings Thatcher still evokes, 23 years after leaving office. She died April 8 at 87.

More than 700 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel formed a ceremonial guard along the route taken by Thatcher's coffin to the cathedral, and around 4,000 police officers were on duty.

Thousands of supporters and a smaller number of opponents traded shouts and arguments, but there was no serious trouble.

Thatcher's coffin was driven from the Houses of Parliament to the church of St. Clement Danes for prayers. From there the coffin was borne to the cathedral on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses.

World leaders attendSpectators broke into applause as the carriage passed by. A few demonstrators staged silent protests, turning their backs on the coffin.

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

Former 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.

Former U.S. first lady Nancy Reagan and onetime Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev were kept away by age.

Thatcher was given a ceremonial funeral with military honors, with the same level of pomp and honor afforded Princess Diana in 1997, and Queen Mother Elizabeth in 2002.

That raised the ire of some Britons who believe her legacy is a socially and economically unequal nation.

"She divided the country," said Glynn Jones of Liverpool, a city devastated in Thatcher's time by industrial decline.

Foes mark her passing

Protests were held in northern England's former mining towns devastated by the closing of the coal pits. In Gold-thorpe, an effigy of the late prime minister was strung up, and a replica coffin, adorned with a floral wreath spelling "scab," was burned on a pyre.

In Belfast, Irish Republican Army supporters waved black flags and placards criticizing her refusal to grant IRA convicts prisoner-of-war status demands in 1981, when 10 inmates starved themselves to death.

Residents of the Falkland Islands honored Thatcher with a memorial service at their cathedral in Port Stanley. But military veterans in Buenos Aires burned a Union Jack and accused Thatcher of "murdering" their comrades in Britain's 1982 war to end Argentina's occupation of the islands.

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