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St Paul's funeral for Lady Thatcher

09 April 2013

AP

Purposeful: Baroness Thatcher  attends a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the end of the Falklands conflict, at the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel, in Pangbourne, Berkshire, in 2007

Purposeful: Baroness Thatcher  attends a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the end of the Falklands conflict, at the F...

THE Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury have expressed sadness at news of the death of the former Prime Minister, Lady Thatcher, who died on Monday morning following a stroke, aged 87.

Downing Street confirmed on Monday afternoon that Lady Thatcher will receive a ceremonial funeral with full military honours at St Paul's Cathedral. The cathedral announced on Tuesday that the funeral will take place on Wednesday of next week (17 April). Buckingham Palace confirmed on Tuesday that the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will attend.

A statement issued by the Queen's Private Secretary said: "The Queen was sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher. Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family."

The Archbishop of Canterbury said in a statement: "It was with sadness that I heard the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher and my prayers are with her son and daughter, her grandchildren, family and friends. It is right that today we give thanks for a life devoted to public service, acknowledging also the faith that inspired and sustained her."

In a statement, the Prime Minister expressed "great sadness" at Lady Thatcher's death. "We've lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton," he said.

The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, said: "The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength."

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, said: "It was said of Margaret Thatcher that being with her was like being with electricity. She was highly charged, holding strong convictions and our society changed as a result of her leadership. She will be long remembered and deservedly so.

"On becoming Prime Minister she quoted St Francis of Assisi, perhaps surprisingly. It was a reflection of the influence of the Christian tradition on her life and beliefs, something often overlooked."

Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, told the Daily Telegraph: "People may differ about her politics - and she divided opinion as any politician does - but there is no doubt that she transformed Britain, she brought back respect, gave us a backbone and she fought for us.

"I think she has done a great deal to strengthen our nation in her period of office."

The RC Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, said in a statement: "We pray for the repose of her soul and for the intentions of her family and all those who now mourn for her."

The President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, said that Lady Thatcher had been "a hugely significant, complex and yet divisive figure in post-war British politics. She achieved a major breakthrough as Britain's first woman Prime Minister, and her time in office fundamentally changed the nature of British society, especially the relationship between individuals and the state.

"For many people she was a courageous and committed leader, and one of the best known British politicians around the world - her roots in a personally responsible Methodist tradition were greatly admired by many. Perhaps one of her greater achievements was to change the post-war political consensus, forcing her political rivals to campaign far more on her terms."

Writing in the Church Times last year, Antonio E. Weiss, a historian and writer, described Lady Thatcher as "the most Christian Prime Minister of the 20th century"; she had "sought to link explicitly her political ideology to her Christian faith more than almost any other politician of modern times" ( Comment, 20 January 2012).

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