The British Prime Minister's office has released the list of dignataires invited to next week's funeral for Margaret Thatcher, a roster of guests that includes the Queen and every living U.S. president. Two old "comrades" of Thatcher's, Nancy Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, have already announced they cannot attend due to health reasons, but will send representatives.
Though the attendance of the Queen seems perfectly fitting, it's actually a big break from tradition. The only time a reigning monarch has ever attended a Prime Minister's funeral was when Elizabeth herself joined the service for Winston Churchill in 1965.
Other dignitaries who were invited include Prime Minister David Cameron, all former Prime Ministers of the U.K, all of Thatcher's Cabinet members, the current and former prime ministers of Canada, a wide-assortment of British lords and ladies, and famous entertainers, like Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, Dame Shirley Bassey, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Several of her fiercest political rivals, like Lord Kinnock, the head of the Labour party during most of her tenure, have already declined invites. Also in attendance will be F.W. de Klerk (the last South African president to rule under apartheid) and a representative of Nelson Mandela, who de Klerk released from prison. Other world leaders, like Germany's Angela Merkel and Barack and Michelle Obama were reportedly invited, but it's not known if they will attend.
One notable snub: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the current president of Argentina. That's probably for the best, since the funeral will in part be a celebration of the biggest military success of Thatcher's premiership: the victory over Argentina in the Falklands War. Several heroes of that conflict have been invited as guests, and every branch of the British Armed Forces will be represented in the procession.
The plan for the funeral—which will take place next Wednesday morning—involves delivering Thatcher's casket via horse-drawn carriage from the Palace of Westminster, through Trafalgar Square to St. Paul's Cathedral, where the full religious service will be held. The body will later be cremated and placed beside her husband's at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. Although she will receive full military honors, there is one concession being made to the Dress code is "Full Day Ceremonial ... without swords."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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