Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, which will be held in London’s St. Paul Cathedral next Wednesday, will include a phalanx of heavy security, as well as about 2,500 invited guests from more than 200 countries.
A press release from Downing Street indicated that all surviving members of Thatcher’s various 1979-1990 cabinets, including Lord Tebbit and Lord Parkinson, will be on hand, as will other heavyweights of late 20th century UK politics, such as former Prime Ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and current PM David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg. The opposition leader, Labour Party chief Ed Miliband, was also invited.
But Labour Party stalwart Lord Kinnock, who lost the 1987 election to Thatcher, said he will not appear at her funeral, citing another funeral he has to attend.
But some of the invitees are rather surprising. For example, former Conservative Minister Michael Heseltine, a man who not only frequently clashed with Thatcher and criticized her policies, but was largely responsible for ultimately toppling her from power in 1990.
Even Sir Geoffrey Howe, Thatcher’s longest-serving former Cabinet minister who delivered a bitterly critical diatribe against her when he resigned, will attend.
Another controversial guest will be writer Jeffrey Archer, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, who has been involved in a number of embarrassing financial scandals over the decades and even served a prison term for perjury in the early 2000s.
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Phillip, will also attend, marking the first time that the queen will appear at a funeral for a British politician since 1965, when Winston Churchill died.
With respect to the European continent, invitations have been sent (or shortly will be) to former French President Jacques Chirac (who clashed repeatedly with Thatcher over the issue of European integration), as well as the current president of France, Francois Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Some of Thatcher’s prominent global peers are simply too old and frail to make the journey to London. These include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (now 82) and former U.S. first lady Nancy Reagan (now 91).
The BBC reported that a representative of the Reagan family will attend the funeral.
Of course, Thatcher’s old friends like U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi have long since passed away.
Former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush were also invited -- it is unclear if they will make the trip or not.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso were also sent invitations. A representative of former South African President Nelson Mandela is also expected to attend.
Other foreign guests will include Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney, ex-South African President F.W. de Klerk and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia.
Not surprisingly, the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, was not invited -- quite apropos given the war over the Falkland Islands that Thatcher launched (and won) more than 30 years ago.
From the world of media and entertainment, the funeral will include radio and TV personality and icon Sir Terry Wogan, an old friend of Thatcher, as well as author Frederick Forsyth, perhaps best known for writing thrillers like "Day of the Jackal" and "The Odessa Files," BBC television star Jeremy Clarkson, singer Dame Shirley Bassey and famed composer Lord Lloyd Webber.