Margaret Thatcher funeral: Mourners outside St Paul's Cathedral pay respects to 'inspiring' woman

Devotees of the Iron Lady arrive early to watch funeral procession of leader who was 'simply the greatest'

The first thought in Margaret Kittle's mind after she learnt of the death of her namesake and former British prime minister was to buy a plane ticket.

Despite living some 4,000 miles from London in rural Canada, the 79-year-old grandmother of ten had made a vow to attend Baroness Thatcher's funeral, a woman she considers to be "just simply the greatest".

Resplendent in an overcoat in the hue of deep royal blue once favoured by her heroine, Mrs Kittle had taken her place behind barriers outside St Paul's Cathedral by 8am on Tuesday and was stood proudly at her station in front of a red telephone box at dawn this morning.

A veteran Thatcher watcher who stood outside Conservative Party headquarters to cheer Lady Thatcher's election victory in 1979, she said: "I felt I had to be here. She was a magnificent woman and I knew in 1979 she would do great things. I don't understand how people thought she was cruel. To me she was a woman with whom you'd want to be friends. She changed the world. I thought it was right to pay my respects."

As the hearse conveying Lady Thatcher's remains passed Downing Street a minute after a silenced Big Ben would have struck ten, other devotees of the Iron Lady in the noticeably sparse crowd provided a low ripple of applause.

John Martin, 64, a businessman from Chertsey, Surrey, was among those putting his hands together. He said: "I started my adult life as a Labour supporter but Maggie changed my mind. She had an aura about her that was inspiring. I'm not sure I agreed with everything she did but you cannot argue with her personality and her leadership. Like Churchill, she symbolised a Britishness. I applauded her for that as much as anything."

Shortly before the hearse approached, civil servants and Downing Street staff left their desks to watch Lady Thatcher pass her one time home and seat of power. Some joined in the applause. Another worker, who later disappeared into the Cabinet Office, held up a sign saying: "Churchill united. Thatcher divided."

In what was perhaps a symbol of the globalised nation that the former premier to some extent began, the first protest to greet her funeral was nothing to do with her profound yet divisive legacy. Instead, it was a gathering of British Sikhs demonstrating against the Indian government.

Grieving disciples of Thatcherism were nonetheless low in number among the throng of curious office workers and tourists.

A grim-faced knot of individuals at the top of Whitehall, their faces pale after what looked like an all-night vigil, turned out to be queuing for last-minute tickets to a production of Macbeth.

Joyce McClaren, 72, who had travelled from Coventry, said: "I loved her. But she divided people. I don't see too many people here crying."

As the gun carriage made its way past Ludgate Circus within sight of St Paul's, the shouts of protesters were largely drowned out by the pomp of the military band and applause from the seven-deep crowd.

Among them were fans of Lady Thatcher too young to have lived under her government. Archie Cadogan, 19, sporting an outsized blue rosette, said: "My father told me all about her and I've studied her at school. Everything I've learned makes me think she'd be a better prime minister than Mr Cameron. It's a historic day."

Closer to St Paul's a man who would only give his name as "John" was looking for buyers of copies of Meryl Streep's Oscar-winning The Iron Lady, albeit with a suspiciously photocopied cover, insisted he represented the former prime minister's legacy.

He said: "She said we should get in our bikes and make a few quid. So here I am."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior Research Analyst - Recruitment Resourcer

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £25K: SThree: SThree Group has been well estab...

Biomass Sales Consultant

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Java Developer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...

Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game