Jeremy Clarkson and Tony Blair, but no Mikhail Gorbachev: Margaret Thatcher's funeral guest list announced
THE Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and the singer Dame Shirley Bassey will be among the guests at Baroness Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday, the British Government announced today.
Alongside the usual roll call of former politicians and foreign dignitaries who have been invited to the service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London there are a number of perhaps surprising invitees.
These include the novelist Fredrick Forsyth, Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber and members of staff at the Ritz hotel who looked after Lady Thatcher in her final days.
From abroad Hillary Clinton and all surviving former US Presidents have been invited.
A representative of Nelson Mandela is also expected to attend – and perhaps in a sign of final rapprochement the the EU President Manuel Barroso has also been invited.
Downing Street said Lady Thatcher’s family had approved the guest list and the Cabinet Office and Foreign Office were in the process of sending out the invitations.
The dress code is described as Full Day Ceremonial (without swords) or Morning Dress.
From the political scene both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will attend although Mrs Thatcher’s Labour adversary in the 1980s Neil Kinnock has said he will not go. He is attending a funeral of a Labour councillor.
All surviving members of Lady Thatcher’s Cabinets have been invited along with the current Cabinet.
The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will not attend due to health problems, his spokesman said.
Mr Gorbachev, 82, paid tribute to Lady Thatcher as a "heavyweight politician and a striking person" following her death on Monday.
He was widely expected to be one of many global figures to attend next week's ceremonial funeral. It has been announced that a number of high-profile names are too unwell to attend.
Nancy Reagan's spokeswoman has confirmed that she would also not be attending, but said she was "heartbroken" over Baroness Thatcher's death.
The chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation will be sent to represent her.
"Mrs Reagan is heartbroken over Baroness Thatcher's death and would really like to be there in person to pay her respects," a spokeswoman said.
"Unfortunately, she is no longer able to make that kind of a trip, so will not be attending the funeral.
"She has asked Fred Ryan, the chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and long-time personal friend, to represent her."
It has been confirmed that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will not be invited.
It is the first time the Queen, who will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, has attended the funeral of a prime minister since Winston Churchill's in 1965.
FW de Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa, will be attending the funeral as a guest of the Thatcher family, a spokesman for the FW de Klerk Foundation confirmed yesterday.
Mr de Klerk, who ordered the release of Nelson Mandela from jail and agreed to negotiations that ended apartheid, earlier paid tribute to Lady Thatcher "not only as one of Britain's greatest prime ministers but also as a leader whose policies and approach had a significant impact on politics throughout the world".
Ten members of staff from the Ritz hotel, where Lady Thatcher had been staying since Christmas until her death there on Monday, have also been invited to her funeral as thanks for the care she received.
St Paul’s has a capacity of 2,300 and is expected to be full on the day. More details of attendees will be announced in the coming days.
The invitees include:
* All surviving former prime ministers
* All surviving former US presidents and a Reagan family representative
* Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton
* All surviving members of Lady Thatcher's cabinets
* The current Cabinet
* The Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband
* European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
* Lady Thatcher's former press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, and his wife Lady Ingham
* Novelist Frederick Forsyth
* Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia
* A representative of Nelson Mandela
Some of those attending include:
* Former cabinet minister Michael Portillo and his wife Carolyn
Oliver Wright, Independent.co.uk