Surprisingly, Former Prime Ministers in the UK do not automatically get a state funeral on their passing. Such honor is reserved for “royalty” and those “politicians who saved the country at times of dire need.” Personally, while I didn’t agree with all of her policies, when her time comes, like her American counterpart Ronald Reagan, I think she should have a state funeral. Same goes for former president of the U.S.S.R. Mikel Gorbachev. Their efforts helped to bring about the end of the cold war, and as such, should be honored by their nations for service to country and globe.
Blair plans state funeral for Thatcher
BRIAN BRADY, Scotland on SUnday, 4th June 2006
TONY Blair is backing a controversial plan to provide a state funeral for one of the Labour Party’s most reviled enemies of recent decades: Margaret Thatcher.
Scotland on Sunday can reveal that civil servants have been working for months on the details of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral, even though there is no suggestion the 80-year-old is suffering from any life-threatening condition.
But Blair believes Thatcher’s eventual passing should be marked with the first state funeral for a commoner since Winston Churchill more than 40 years ago.
The proposal has astounded constitutional experts, who argue that – royalty aside – the honour is normally reserved for politicians who “saved the country at times of dire need”.
The funeral plan has also sparked furious debate at the heart of the New Labour government, with a number of ministers opposing such a mark of respect for a Conservative Prime Minister.
The move is also likely to provoke a furious backlash from the grass roots of the party, where Thatcher is still detested for her stout opposition to the unions and policies in areas including employment, privatisation, gay rights and the Poll Tax during her 11 years in office.
One Labour MP last night claimed the proposal proved Blair and his advisers in Downing Street had “finally lost contact with reality”.
The blueprint being drawn up within the Cabinet Office lays out a route for the funeral cortege through central London. It is believed it would take in Trafalgar Square, the scene of wild victory celebrations at the end of the Falklands War in 1982, and a riot against the Poll Tax seven years later. It would pass down Whitehall past Downing Street, her home from 1979 to 1990, on its way to the Houses of Parliament.
Past state funerals have involved a lying-in-state for several days in Westminster Hall, but it is believed that the plans for Thatcher favour a ceremonial route leading directly to a service at Westminster Abbey. St Paul’s Cathedral is another option under consideration.
The state ceremony is a highly unusual move for any “commoner”. Churchill was accorded the honour in 1965 in recognition of his leadership during the Second World War.
Planning for Churchill’s funeral carried on for over a decade after he suffered a heart attack in 1953 and the Queen made it known she would like his contribution recognised in this in the proper fashion when he died. Over 300,000 people filed past his body as it lay in state in Westminster Hall and more than 100 foreign leaders attended his funeral service.
In recent years, former prime ministers, including Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan and Edward Heath, have had lower-key funerals followed by memorial services at Westminster.