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Pomp, Circumstance and Protest: Thousands Bid Farewell to Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’

April 17, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
The order of service reflected all she believed in: faith, patriotism and duty. From Parliament to St. Paul's Cathedral, thousands gathered respectfully, including many who still vehemently dislike the Iron Lady. Independent Television News' Garry Bibbon and Jeffrey Brown report on the mourners and protesters.
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GWEN IFILL: In London today, final goodbyes were said at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

We begin with a report from Gary Gibbon of Independent Television News.

GARY GIBBON: Twenty-three years after she left Downing Street, Margaret Thatcher passed one last time, crowds three deep near Parliament, now five deep and breaking into applause.

At Saint Paul’s Cathedral, world leaders past and present were arriving to take their seats, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. At the RAF church Saint Clement Danes, the coffin was placed on a gun carriage, the stuff of royal funerals given to few commoners.

The crowds were now sometimes 10 deep, some wiping away the tears. In an echo of the state funeral the queen granted Winston Churchill in 1965, Margaret Thatcher’s coffin was carried up the steps to Saint Paul’s.

The queen and Prince Philip sat across from the Thatcher family. The first reading was given by Margaret Thatcher’s 19-year-old granddaughter, who was born in America and is now a student there.

AMANDA THATCHER, Granddaughter of Margaret Thatcher: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.

GARY GIBBON: David Cameron, who spent his early years as Tory leader trying to distance himself from Margaret Thatcher, gave the second lesson.

PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON, Britain: Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God believe also in me.

GARY GIBBON: Margaret Thatcher’s favorite hymns peppered the service, details of this mourning planned with the palace and Downing Street in the years after she lost power.

As the coffin left the cathedral, some of her supporters outside cheered; 48 years since she last attended the funeral of one of her prime ministers, the queen stood again on the same steps where she said goodbye to Winston Churchill.

The queen talked briefly to the Thatcher family on the cathedral steps. It may be no politician ever has a send-off like this again.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, for some in the United Kingdom, however, Margaret Thatcher’s funeral was cause for protest.

PROTESTERS: Waste of money!

JEFFREY BROWN: Small groups gathered along the procession route in London, chanting and raising placards, to criticize the policies of the former prime minister and complain that the government was footing at least some of the bill for the funeral.

REBECCA LOSHBLOOM, Protester: I saw a leader who was cozying up to dictators, who couldn’t — who refused to implement sanctions against apartheid era South Africa, who caused enormous division within our society, made the rich richer and the poor poorer.

MAN: I don’t want history written by Cameron and the Conservative Party. I want to say, actually, there’s a different story. There’s a story where she divided this country.

JEFFREY BROWN: The protests in London were relatively peaceful. Police there made no arrests.

Larger concentrations of Thatcher critics gathered in mining communities like Yorkshire and were much more vocal. Some who blame Thatcher for the collapse of the local mining industry held a mock funeral and burned an effigy of the country’s first female leader.