'The calm after the storm of life': The address by the Bishop of London Richard Chartres at Margaret Thatcher's funeral

 

Baroness Thatcher’s life, lived in the “heat of political controversy”, has now been replaced by a “great calm”, The Bishop of London said, as he paid tribute to a “wife, mother and grandmother” and not the “mythological” figure she became in public as he delivered the address at her funeral service in St Paul's Cathedral.

Attempting to set aside the days of political controversy following Lady Thatcher’s death Last Monday Bishop Richard Chartres told the congregation that included political friends and foes alike to pause the debate about her legacy and reflect on “ordinary human compassion of the kind that is reconciling”.

And in an apparent play on her famous question “Is he one of us?” he said: “Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings”.

In his sermon Bishop Chartres - whose last big public eulogy was at the wedding of Prince William - reflected on Lady Thatcher’s personal consideration and kindness.

He cited a letter she received from a nine-year-old boy while she was Prime Minster who wrote: “Last night when we were saying prayers, my daddy said everyone has done wrong things except Jesus. I said I don't think you have done bad things because you are Prime Minister. Am I right or is my daddy?”

Bishop Chartres said remarkably Lady Thatcher had written back in her own hand. “However good we try to be,” she said, “we can never be as kind gentle and wise as Jesus. There will be times when we do or say something we wish we hadn’t done and we shall be sorry and try not to do it again. If you and I were to paint a picture, it would be as good as the picture of great artists. So our lives can’t be as good as the life of Jesus.”

Bishop Chartres said it was typical of her that Lady Thatcher was always trying to help out in “typically uncoded terms”.

He added: "After the storm of a life led in the heat of political controversy, there is a great calm.

"The storm of conflicting opinions centres on the Mrs Thatcher who became a symbolic figure - even an ism.

"Today the remains of the real Margaret Hilda Thatcher are here at her funeral service."

He went on: "Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings.

"There is an important place for debating policies and legacy; for assessing the impact of political decisions on the everyday lives of individuals and communities.

"Parliament held a frank debate last week - but here and today is neither the time nor the place."

He said: "This, at Lady Thatcher's personal request, is a funeral service, not a memorial service with the customary eulogies.

"At such a time, the parson should not aspire to the judgments which are proper to the politician; instead this is a place for ordinary human compassion of the kind that is reconciling.

"It is also the place for the simple truths which transcend political debate. Above all it is the place for hope."

The bishop said: "It must be very difficult for those members of her family and those closely associated with her to recognise the wife, the mother and the grandmother in the mythological figure.

"Our hearts go out to Mark and Carol and to their families, and also to those who cared for Lady Thatcher with such devotion especially in her later years."

He went on: "One thing that everybody has noted is the courtesy and personal kindness which she showed to those who worked for her, as well as her capacity to reach out to the young and often also to those who were not, in the world's eyes, important.

"The letter from a young boy early on in her time as a prime minister is a typical example.

"Nine-year-old David wrote to say 'Last night when we were saying prayers my Daddy said everyone has done wrong things except Jesus and I said I don't think you have done bad things because you are the Prime Minister.

"'Am I right or is my Daddy?'

"Now perhaps the most remarkable thing is the prime minister replied in her own hand in a very straightforward letter, which took the question seriously.

"She said 'However good we try to be, we can never be as kind, gentle and wise as Jesus.

"'There will be times when we do or say something we wish we had not done and we shall be sorry and try not to do it again."'

He continued: "I was once sitting next to her at some City function and, in the midst of describing how Hayek's Road To Serfdom had influenced her thinking, she suddenly grasped my wrist and said very emphatically 'Don't touch the duck pate, Bishop - it's very fattening'.

"She described her own religious upbringing in a lecture she gave in a nearby church of St Lawrence Jewry.

"She said 'We often went to church twice on Sundays, as well as on other occasions during the week. We were taught always to make up our own minds and never take the easy way of following the crowd.'

"Her upbringing, of course, was in Methodism to which this country owes a huge debt. When it was time to challenge the political and economic status quo in 19th century Britain, it was so often the Methodists who took the lead. The Tolpuddle Martyrs, for example, were led not by proto-Marxists but by Methodist lay preachers."

Suggested Topics
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 year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us