Friday, 12 April 2013
All former U.S. presidents, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and a raft of global dignitaries are invited to the funeral next Wednesday of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Downing Street said Thursday. The guest list also includes representatives of the Reagan family, Nelson Mandela's family and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, alongside sitting British Prime Minister David Cameron. Any members of Thatcher's Cabinet who are still alive and members of the current UK Cabinet, as well as opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband, will also be asked to attend, Cameron's office said. Among those expected to come are F.W. de Klerk, the last apartheid-era president of South Africa, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and one of his predecessors, Brian Mulroney. Buckingham Palace has already confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, will be present. With full military honors, the funeral will rival those given to Diana, Princess of Wales and the Queen Mother. More than 2,000 invitations -- color-coded to indicate where the guests are to sit -- are being sent out, Cameron's office said. They are due to be mailed Friday. Details of the very formal dress code will be sent out with the invitations. St. Paul's Cathedral holds 2,300 people and is expected to be full on the day, Cameron's office said. Some friends of Thatcher have already said they will be absent.
The BBC said Friday it will play a short clip of the Wizard of Oz song "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" on its pop chart show on Sunday -- not the whole song -- after sales of the tune skyrocketed in the wake of the death of Margaret Thatcher. A Facebook campaign is encouraging people to buy the track to celebrate the former prime minister's death on Monday. BBC Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper called the decision to play an excerpt on the Official Chart Show "a difficult compromise," the BBC reported. Thatcher remains a highly polarizing figure in British politics. Many Britons blame her for creating soaring unemployment, when she reduced or eliminated many government subsidies to businesses and took on unions. Her battle with striking coal miners won her few friends in mining communities in northern England and Wales.
The Met Police will be working with the City of London Police, who cover the capital's financial district, and the British Transport Police, as well as the country's intelligence agencies and other partners to keep the city safe, Jones said. At the same time, she sought to downplay concerns that things may get out of hand despite the large scale of Wednesday's operation. "We have a lot of experience in the Metropolitan Police -- in fact, really, this is our bread and butter," she said. The threat level assessment from Britain's intelligence experts has not changed, she said. Read: World media reaction to death of 'Iron Lady' Last year, policing efforts were dominated by the Diamond Jubilee, celebrating the queen's 60 years on the throne, and the London Olympics, which passed off peacefully. The wedding of Prince William and Catherine in April 2011 also involved a major policing operation. Public confidence in police was shaken, however, by several nights of riots and looting that rocked London and other English cities in the summer of 2011. The Olympics security operation included warships moored in the Thames, Typhoon jet fighters and Puma helicopters on standby, and, perhaps most controversially, surface-to-air missiles on apartment buildings near the Olympic Stadium. Jones would not give any detail of extra measures to be taken Wednesday, saying only that police "will deploy the resources we need to ensure that this is a safe and secure event." "Protective measures for the royal family, visiting heads of state and others -- that is normal practice, and it is absolutely tried and tested tactically," she said. "It's the way we have managed to secure so many very successful events in London against a backdrop where we often have counterprotests going on."