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THATCHER FUNERAL: ‘It was a privilege to be a part of it’
OXFORDSHIRE residents joined millions of people around the world in saying a final goodbye to Margaret Thatcher yesterday.
Thousands lined Baroness Thatcher’s funeral route in London and county residents and figures were among the 2,300 throng inside St Paul’s Cathedral for the service.
Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron hailed the occasion and said it was “suitably momentous”.
He told the Oxford Mail: “Today was the right and most fitting tribute to an extraordinary Prime Minister.”
Hundreds of pupils, academics, staff and alumni descended on Somerville College in Woodstock Road where coverage of the funeral was screened.
College spokeswoman Amy Crosweller said: “It went as well as we could expect. We had a good turnout and it was a special day for people to pay their respects and say a goodbye.
“Those who came along seemed to get a lot out of it.”
Mrs Thatcher, formerly Roberts, studied chemistry at the college in 1943 and was fondly remembered there, despite her later quarrels with Oxford University.
College principal Dr Alice Prochaska and two students attended the ceremonial funeral where the Queen led mourners including Oxfordshire MPs Sir Tony Baldry and Ed Vaizey, for Banbury, and Didcot and Wantage, respectively.
Dr Prochaska said: “I was honoured to attend the funeral of Lady Thatcher today. For all of us it was a historic moment, and we were privileged to be part of it.”
Baroness Thatcher, who died last week aged 87, was given full military honours, with the coffin bearing her body brought in procession to the cathedral on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses.
Mark Powys-Smith, 37, lives in Oxford but works in London. He said: “I’ve come here today because Thatcher was a stateswoman and did a lot of good for the country.
“My wife is Bosnian and Thatcher obviously helped to bring down communism there through her relationship with Gorbachev,” he said.
Officers from Thames Valley Police helped the Metropolitan Police marshal crowds.
A protest against the event, scheduled for outside the cathedral and organised by Oxford Brookes pupil Dominic Francis, passed peacefully.
Baroness Thatcher’s coffin was draped in a Union flag and topped by a floral tribute of white roses bearing a hand- written note from her children Sir Mark and Carol.
Walking ahead were her grandchildren Michael and Amanda, carrying cushions bearing her insignia of the Order of the Garter and Order of Merit.
Along with Mr Cameron, Amanda gave a reading from the King James Bible.
At St Paul’s the congregation heard an address from Bishop of London Richard Chartres which, in keeping with her request for a religious funeral service rather than a memorial with eulogies, focused on her humanity rather than her political legacy.
He paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher’s “perseverance and courage” adding, “lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings”.
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