Bishop Rt Rev Tim Ellis warns that £10m cost of Margaret Thatcher's funeral is 'asking for trouble'

 

A senior Anglican clergyman from Baroness Thatcher’s home town has criticised the cost of her funeral – saying the decision to spend an estimated £10m of public money on the ceremony was a “mistake”.

The Rt Rev Tim Ellis criticised parties held to celebrate Lady Thatcher’s death but added: “Events of 30 to 40 years ago still engender that kind of violent reaction because her reign was very divisive and controversial, and people still remember that today.

“In a context where there is great ill feeling about her legacy, we have a situation where we seem to be expecting the nation to glorify that with a £10m funeral. [It] is asking for trouble. People with extreme views will use it to promote their political views.

“We should be marking her as a person in Grantham and with a more low-key, personal marking.”

Lady Thatcher’s funeral, on Wednesday, will be the most lavish for any Prime Minister since Winston Churchill was accorded a state funeral in 1965, and the first since then that the Queen will attend.

The former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, who is expected  to be among the mourners, also questioned whether it needed to be  so lavish.

He told Sky News: “I have to say something a little more simple – just as solemn but a little more simple – might be better. But look, this is chosen by the Conservative Party to celebrate their great leader; it’s chosen by her family – even if I might feel a bit uncomfortable about some aspects of it, I’m perfectly prepared to accept that.”

Mrs Thatcher is to be buried with military honours. Though it is not formally classed as a state funeral, many of the public see it as such. A Downing Street petition opposing it has received more than 37,000 signatures, and a poll for The Independent on Sunday showed that 60 per cent thought that her funeral should not be paid for from public funds, as against 25 per cent who thought it should.

But Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude insisted that it was a “fitting event”. He told Sky News: “Of course, with any funeral of any former prime minister the state inevitably plays a big role. Normally there would be a funeral followed by a memorial service. She was very adamant that she didn’t want that, she wanted a single service. So this needs to be a fitting event for a very great lady.”

His remarks follow an article by the former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott who wrote in his Sunday Mirror column: “Even in death, she is spinning from her grave. She claimed she never wanted a state funeral, but she planned to give herself the same ceremonial one as the Queen Mother.

“And her ‘children’, the out-of-touch Tory Boys Cameron and Osborne, are getting YOU to foot the £10m bill for the biggest political propaganda exercise this country has ever seen.”

This contrasts with the attitude of the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, who has said that those who disagreed with Margaret Thatcher’s policies should nonetheless show respect.

Sally Bercow, wife of Speaker John Bercow, has turned down an invitation to be among the 2,000 guests, according to The Sunday Times. During a radio debate in 2010, Mrs Bercow, who once ran as a Labour candidate in a council election, opposed giving Mrs Thatcher a funeral at public expense.

“To have a state funeral at a cost of three or four million funded by the taxpayer would not be the right thing to do,” she said. “She ushered in a very greedy and selfish society.”

Thatcher procession: the schedule

Before the 11am service, a single half-muffled bell will toll for the arrival of the cortège. After the service, the St Paul’s Cathedral Guild of Ringers will ring “Stedman Cinques” with the cathedral’s bells half-muffled. As the cathedral clock strikes the hour, the coffin will be carried into the cathedral and placed upon the bier under the dome. As the procession of the coffin moves through the nave, the choir will sing the sentences John 11: 25, 26; Job 19: 25-27; Timothy 1: 6, 7; and Job 1: 21.

There follows a Bidding given by David Ison, the Dean of St Paul’s; First Reading by Amanda Thatcher, granddaughter, Ephesians 6: 10-18; Second Reading by David Cameron, John 14: 1-6; Address by Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London; prayers; the hymn “I Vow to Thee, My Country”; Blessing by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Recessional, during which the coffin is carried out of the cathedral; “Nimrod” from the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
This weekend's 'Big Hero 6' by Disney Animation Studios
arts + ents
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee