([London] Times) The Bishop of Grantham criticises Thatcher funeral

The Bishop of Grantham has criticised the scale and cost of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral, describing it as a “mistake” which may play into the hands of extremists.

The Rt Revd Dr Tim Ellis said the ceremonial event at St Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday, costing up to £10 million, was “asking for trouble” amid divisions about the late prime minister’s legacy….

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4 comments on “([London] Times) The Bishop of Grantham criticises Thatcher funeral

  1. Ad Orientem says:

    I am a huge admirer of Thatcher on a number of levels (though there are also some areas of respectful disagreement). But I actually agree that the funeral is over the top and maybe crossing some important lines.

    They can play all the word games they want to but this is for all intent and purposes a state funeral. And that is troubling. In Britain (unlike here in the US) the elected head of the government is not also the head of state. That title belongs to The Queen. And traditionally only the sovereign is accorded a state funeral.

    There are practical and IMHO very sound reasons for this. The monarch is a non-political symbol of the nation. She is someone who all but the most die-hard republicans can rally around on patriotic holidays and toast together with persons with whom they might otherwise be deeply at odds politically. Further, in Britain there is a very long tradition that Prime Ministers are not accorded official funerals because they would necessarily have partisan overtones. In the last 100 years only Winston Churchill was extended this honor in consideration of his wartime leadership of a united country at the head of a coalition government. And that was the only PM’s funeral that The Queen has attended in her 60 years on the throne.

    Until now.

    Not only is Baroness Thatcher to be accorded a slightly watered down state funeral but it has been announced that the monarch, who has been so very careful to avoid even a hint of political prejudice in Her long reign, is to attend what is without doubt a very partisan celebration.

    Love her or hate her, Baroness Thatcher is undeniably a hugely controversial figure in the way Churchill was not. By according her a state funeral and dragging The Queen to it (She does not attend such things without the instruction of Her ministers) Britain may be setting an unfortunate precedent. One that seems to have dragged the sovereign into a largely partisan celebration.

    As noted in an excellent op-ed piece I read recently, ironically in The Telegraph, Clement Attlee, who was at least as consequential a figure in British political history as Thatcher was buried quietly with only a simple Anglican service attended by family and close friends. The contrast is difficult not to take note of.

    While the pomp filled funeral is questionable enough, the presence of Her Majesty is deeply disturbing. There is no way to avoid the conclusion that the sovereign is being used as a prop at a partisan commemoration of a woman, who while undoubtedly one of the greatest political figures in British history, was, and remains, deeply controversial.

    I sincerely hope this does not set a precedent and that it does not happen again.

  2. Jim the Puritan says:

    I think the Earl should have a talk with the Bishop. (Yes, I know the real title is extinct.)

  3. Ad Orientem says:

    Resubscribe… I hate that the top link in the email notifications is to unsubscribe instead of taking you to the thread. I have unsubscribed from more good threads by accident than I can remember.

  4. MichaelA says:

    Ironically, my recollection is that the Queen got on much better with the Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan than she did with Margaret Thatcher, at least on a personal level.

    On another note, I wonder if the very public funeral of Mrs Thatcher is meant to send a message? She was prepared to take Britain to war half way around the war, without any allies. I can’t think of any other western country that has done that on such a scale since WWII, certainly not the US or Australia.

    I am not suggesting PM Cameron intends to start a war anytime soon, but I do wonder if this is meant to remind other nations in these uncertain times that Britain shouldn’t be trifled with?