More than 2,000 people, including all surviving U.S. Presidents as well as representatives of foreign states and figures from the world of entertainment, will fill St. Paul’s cathedral next Wednesday for the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.
Releasing the guest list for the service, a spokesperson from Number 10 Downing St, the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement:
Those invited include family and friends of Lady Thatcher, those who worked with her over the years, including all surviving members of her cabinets, former chiefs of staff, Conservative associates, peers and MPs, members of the cabinet, peers and MPs, members of the Order of the Garter, members of the Order of Merit, foreign associates and dignitaries and representatives from the wide range of groups she was associated with.
The spokesperson added that some 200 states, territories and international organizations—“those countries and institutions with whom we have normal diplomatic relations”—would be invited to send a representative to the service. The Queen, who last attended the funeral of a British politician in 1965, after the death of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is already confirmed to be attending along with the Duke of Edinburgh.
All members of the current Cabinet have been invited, as well as all surviving members of Lady Thatcher’s Cabinets — including Michael Heseltine, Thatcher’s cabinet rival who, by challenging her for the Conservative party leadership in 1990, ousted her from power. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has already said he will attend. And, despite Thatcher’s vigorous opposition to the European Union, E.U. President Manuel Barroso will also been invited. One notable absence will be Neil Kinnock—leader of the opposition for much of Thatcher’s time in office, and a bitter political rival—who has said he will not attend the service because he is already due to go to a friend’s funeral in Wales on that day.
Other Thatcher contemporaries from her time in office will also be absent. A spokeswoman for Nancy Reagan—who is said to be “heartbroken” at the news of Lady Thatcher’s death—said that she was too unwell to attend and had asked the chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation to represent her, reports the Guardian. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will also not be at the funeral due to poor health.
Away from politics, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has already confirmed he will be attending, as have Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey, best known for recording the theme songs to a number of James Bond movies, and the composer and theater impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose work includes Cats and the Phantom of the Opera. Dynasty actress Joan Collins is also invited.
Lady Thatcher is to receive “full military honors” – one step down from a full state funeral. More than 700 armed forces personnel will line the route from Westminster to St Paul’s cathedral, including three bands whose drums will be covered in black cloth. A gun salute will be fired from two 105mm guns, used in the Falklands War, from the Tower of London and the coffin will be carried into St Paul’s by service personnel from regiments and ships associated with the Falklands campaign. Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC that he felt such a ceremony to be justified. “I think people would find us a pretty extraordinary country if we didn’t properly commemorate with dignity, with seriousness, but with also some fanfare … the passing of this extraordinary woman,” he said.
The service is mooted to cost over $15 million — including a huge security operation after concerns that some people may see the funeral as an opportunity to protest the legacy of a prime minister who privatized whole sectors of the state and warred with the country’s unions. Though feted with eulogies in the U.S., Thatcher’s death has revealed a deep-seated antipathy in the U.K. for the premier who embodied a divisive era of British politics. On the day Thatcher died, a number of street parties were held throughout the U.K., some of which turned violent.