The Good Funeral Guide Blog

All in a state funeral

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Posted by Vale

When is a state funeral not a state funeral?

Back in 2008 there was speculation in the press about plans for a state funeral honouring the life and achievements of Lady Thatcher.

The rumours were denied at the time but have never gone away or stopped being controversial. Look at the reactions to the recent film The Iron Lady. It’s clear that the memory of Lady Thatcher still has the power to stir people up. One conservative commentator has has even argued that she should forego the honour – not because she doesn’t deserve one, but because celebrating her life so publicly would divide rather than unite the nation.

Here at GFG we have no political views. We are aloof. We rise above.

We do recall though that the last PM honoured in this way was Sir Winston Churchill – a great man who was himself not universally loved. And we were intrigued by the epetition that appeared recently on the Direct Government site here. It simply states that ‘we the undersigned believe that’:

In keeping with the great lady’s legacy, Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral should be funded and managed by the private sector to offer the best value and choice for end users and other stakeholders.

The undersigned believe that the legacy of the former PM deserves nothing less and that offering this unique opportunity is an ideal way to cut government expense and further prove the merits of liberalised economics Baroness Thatcher spearheaded.

We do not comment on the merits or not of the idea. We do, though, wonder what a privatised ‘state’ funeral might look like?

State funerals are rare. They involve lying in state and a funeral procession in which the coffin is drawn on a gun carriage by sailors from the Royal Navy. Royal Ceremonial Funerals (as for State but minus gun carriage and sailors) happen more frequently. Princess Diana’s and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s funerals’ were Royal Ceremonials.

So what might a ‘private’ state funeral look like? Fewer sailors, but more cars? The cavalcade that took Diana to Althorp would be an example. What could the industry do for Lady Thatcher?

7 comments on “All in a state funeral

  1. Jonathan

    Wednesday 7th March 2012 at 8:25 pm

    ps: can I be the celebrant please? No charge to the public or anyone else, it’d be my pleasure!

  2. Jonathan

    Wednesday 7th March 2012 at 8:24 pm

    James, you beat me to it: as I was scrolling down these comments I began to realize the obvious, viz: ‘Wrap the bitch in a coal sack and chuck her down a disused mine.’

    Whatever they do, don’t let a penny of it come out of MY poll tax.

  3. Mr XX

    Wednesday 7th March 2012 at 6:41 pm

    A few funeral directors near to me, regularly offers their firms service FOC to any family involved in a high profile death.

    Some FD’s just love to be in the media.

  4. Wednesday 7th March 2012 at 3:10 pm

    As businesses, and the demonised ‘working people’, struggle to keep their heads above water (no small hat tip to the ‘merits of liberalised economics’ here) perhaps we could slip Thatcher’s weighted body in its shroud into the Thames on a leaving flood tide.
    I, for one, would not mind the lack of fuss one bit.

  5. RICHARD NEWMAN

    Wednesday 7th March 2012 at 10:43 am

    I am sure that Dignity would leap at the opportunity to stage Mrs. T’s funeral and for no public expense! Has anyone asked them yet?

  6. Kathryn Edwards

    Wednesday 7th March 2012 at 10:10 am

    Though this funeral involved many transport modes, it’s the water that fascinates me. A funeral barge seems so serene and otherworldly, in a good way. Am I seduced by memories of the ‘Morte d’Arthur’ ‘s account of the boat that came to take the dying king to the beyond?

    Some years ago I had an exciting conversation with Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank and convenor of the recent deathfest there, about what a marvellous venue the Festival Hall would be for a funeral. One could arrive by boat, use those spacious terraces and the Hall within, and then take the coffin away by water to . . . wherever.

    As for Maggie’s funeral, I think the point about a big public knees-up being ‘privatised’ was less about exploiting the opportunities for commercial promotion and more about relieving the State of some unwelcome expenses. Thousands of pounds for defensive policing, etc.

  7. Tuesday 6th March 2012 at 8:24 pm

    You’d need sponsors, Vale, and offer them exclusive commercial access to the throngs of distraught mourners. The FD dressed as Ronald MacDonald, advertisements on the coffin and all over the hearse… I’m stopping there.

Leave a Comment