The news of the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first and only female Prime Minister, last week came to me unexpectedly.
I watched a documentary on her life a year or two ago and even though she was, at the time, battling with ill-health, the documentary was refreshing because I still saw in her that strong-willed political giant who fought to make a mark in history.
It reminded me of her hey days as Prime Minister of Britain through the 1980s. I was quite baffled, unfortunately, why her death last week was received with mixed feelings by her own country.
Almost immediately after the news of her passing broke, there were reports of revellers in some parts of the UK actually celebrating her death. But was she really the type of leader whose death would call for a fraction of the people to be jubilant? We know she earned the name “Iron Lady” because she ruled with heavy hands, though with good intentions for her country.
It looks to me, however, that in the process, she must have stepped on too many toes and earned some enmity at home.
She was a role model to me for the mere fact that as a student of A ‘Level European History, a female political leader who rose to that level and then going through to successfully win in three general elections in a country like Great Britain was not only historic, it was impressive as well.
I have followed the events following her death with very keen interest. I have been amazed and also quite unhappy with some of the negative newspaper and social media headlines on the passing of somebody who climbed to such heights as a world leader and who had well-meaning intentions for her people.
I find it quite puzzling that thousands in Britain actually celebrated the news of her death, recalling her rule as the main reason for social unrest in the 1980s. Even sad and in bad taste is the fact that there has been an anti-Thatcher song vying for the UK charts and by last weekend had sold between 52,000 and 57,000 copies and at number two on the charts.
It is surprising to note, according to news analysis, that for many Brits, Baroness Thatcher will not be forgiven or forgotten. Is that the reason for the many unfavourable headlines after her death?
One headline read: “Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady who divided a nation” while another said, “Crowd celebrates Thatcher.” Another went like this, “Miner: Thatcher’s death, a great day” and yet another one said “Thatcher: passing of a political giant loved and hated in equal measure.”
I have been left wondering how anyone could speak so cruelly about the dead and someone of that world stature. For a minute I thought there was something good that those celebrating her demise could learn from us here in Ghana. Did they not know that one does not speak ill about the dead? That respect must be shown to the dead at all times? Definitely, not here in this land of our birth.
The dead are paid reverence and forgiven for their wrong deeds, at least when speaking about them in public.
Lady Thatcher, to me, was a great world politician and she did impact her generation of politicians, not only in Britain but across the world. So at her funeral today, many who loved and respected her for what she was would throng the St Paul’s Cathedral in London to bid her their last farewell.
One will salute the Queen of England for deciding to honour the former Prime Minister with her presence at the funeral accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. But even though the Queen will be at the funeral, Baroness Thatcher will not receive a state burial but rather, a ceremonial funeral with full military honours just as was done for Princess Diana and the Queen’s own mother. Her son, Sir Mark, feels apparently honoured that the Queen will attend their mother’s funeral, saying, “My mother would have been very proud to know the Queen would attend her funeral.”
The strict politician that she was, Baroness Thatcher is said to have left instructions for her funeral and her family is keen that the instructions are carried through to the letter.
She requested that her body be rested overnight in the historic Westminster Chapel, and the Queen had given her consent. There in the Parliament Chapel on the eve of her funeral, MPs and Peers will be able to pay their last respect.
As part of the funeral instruction which she is said to have left behind, the current Prime Minister of Britain is to give a reading at her funeral. She was specific that the reading by the Prime Minister was to be taken from the Gospels. She went on to select John 14 verses 1 and 2 which read, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.” That is how well she wished her country and its people.
Among the other hymns selected by Lady Thatcher are John Bunyan’s “To Be a Pilgrim” and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”. Her death, unfortunately, has re-kindled hatred in some of her kith and, kin. Was it something she anticipated and, therefore, wanted this song as a reminder that she meant Christ’s love to enter every dwelling heart?
Baroness Thatcher must have wished peace for her country. She saw death coming in ill health; she planned for her funeral with her country in mind. That is the kind of leader who held her country and people at heart and in high esteem. She wanted to put the “Great” back in Britain as some have said, but it looks like some hated her for the path for which she chose for those ambitions to travel.
Lady Thatcher was definitely a political giant and the good she sought for her country would be interred with her bones later today. As to being loved and hated in equal measure, life after her death would tell; perhaps not only in Britain, but her admirers outside of Britain would continue to talk about her. I am definitely one of them.
Article by Vicky Wireko