Thatcher ‘sparked storm of opinions,’ bishop tells mourners

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07:37 PM April 17th, 2013

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April 17th, 2013 07:37 PM

The Union Flag draped coffin holding the body of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is carried from a hearse as it arrives at the Houses of Parliament in London Tuesday April 16, 2013 to rest overnight before her funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday . About 100 colleagues and senior politicians will attend a private service in Parliament’s chapel of St. Mary Undercroft later Tuesday. AP/Sang Tan

LONDON — The Bishop of London told mourners at former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday that she had sparked a “storm of conflicting opinions”.

Thatcher’s coffin was carried into St Paul’s Cathedral after being applauded by thousands of people lining the route, although several hundred protesters turned their backs in protest.

Queen Elizabeth II led 2,300 mourners in the cathedral including Prime Minister David Cameron, three of his predecessors and guests from 170 countries.

The funeral service was strongly influenced by Thatcher’s strict Methodist upbringing.

After a bible reading from Thatcher’s American-accented granddaughter Amanda, the Bishop of London Richard Chartres said the point of the funeral service was to remember the person, not the politician.

“After the storm of a life led in the heat of political controversy, there is a great calm,” the bishop said.

“The storm of conflicting opinions centers on the Mrs. Thatcher who became a symbolic figure — even an -ism.

“Today the remains of the real Margaret Hilda Thatcher are here at her funeral service,” he said.

“There is an important place for debating policies and legacy; for assessing the impact of political decisions on the everyday lives of individuals and communities.

“Parliament held a frank debate last week — but here and today is neither the time nor the place.”

The body of Britain’s first woman prime minister, who was in office from 1979 to 1990, was to be taken after the service to be cremated.

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