The Address given by The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard Chartres, KCVO, Bishop of London at the funeral of Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS
After the storm of a life lived 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. 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. 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.
But it must be difficult for those members of her family and close associates to recognise the wife, mother and grandmother in the mythological figure. Our hearts go out to Mark and Carol and their families, and also to those who cared for Lady Thatcher with such devotion in her last years.
One thing that everyone 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 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. I said I don’t think you have done bad things because you are the Prime Minister. Am I right or is my daddy?”
Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that the PM replied in her own hand in a very straightforward letter which took the question seriously. And 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 hadn’t done and we shall be sorry and try not to do it again."
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