Wilson's simple island burial

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The Independent Online
The people of the Isles of Scilly buried Lord Wilson as one of their own yesterday, laying him to rest by a peaceful cove - a world away from party politics.

The former Labour prime minister had lived among them for so long that they honoured him by carrying his coffin in the traditional style to the cemetery after the funeral service in the Parish Church of St Mary's the Virgin. The crew of the local lifeboat, the island's fire-fighters and local sailors took it in turn to carry the coffin.

Surrounded by the graves of those who had drowned in shipwrecks, Lord Wilson, who died on 24 May, was buried in the the graveyard of a tiny 12th century church.

It was exactly the kind of ceremony that Lady Wilson had had in mind - a service where nearly all of the congregation were islanders and the procession was led by Sergeant Allan Russell, the senior half of the two-man local police force.

Lady Wilson had asked that it should not become a Labour Party funeral and that the official mourners should be kept to a minimum. Those wishes were adhered to.

Tony Blair attended with Lord Callaghan, and the frail but indomitable Baroness Castle. With them were Sir Robin Butler, then secretary to the Cabinet, Lord Armstrong, Gerald Kaufman and Margaret Beckett.

Lady Falkender, who, as Marcia Williams, was Lord Wilson's controversial secretary and confidante, sat near to Lady Wilson during the funeral.

Outside the church it was the sort of day which had caused the Wilson's to fall in love with the Isles of Scilly almost half-a-century earlier and later build the bungalow where they spent so much of their spare time.

It was on such days - with the sky cloudless and the sea shimmering - that Lord Wilson would escape the pressures of power by disappearing on to a remote beach with his dog.