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Cheers drown out the cries of protest

They had threatened to hurl coal and milk at Margaret Thatcher's coffin as it passed on its way to St Paul's Cathedral.

In the event, however, any jeers of protest were drowned out by cheers from the former British prime minister's many thousands of supporters, and the only objects thrown were flowers from her passionate devotees.

About 300 demonstrators stood with their backs turned on the funeral procession as it moved slowly through London.

Organisers of the protest had urged those taking part to remain silent, but there were loud boos, whistles and chants of "waste of money".

No arrests were made during the ceremony and Scotland Yard hailed its security operation as a success. It involved about 4,000 police officers.

Initially it had appeared that Mrs Thatcher's opponents were dominating the crowds lining Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill. They shouted slogans as military bands marched along the route ahead of the cortege.

But when the coffin arrived, three-quarters of an hour later, the protesters' noise was muted by applause and cheers for the former Conservative Party leader.

Many of the activists waved home-made placards or socialist worker posters reading, "Now bury Thatcherism".

Facing them on the other side of the junction were supporters of Mrs Thatcher, including war veterans in uniform and a man holding a banner reading: "Thank you Mrs T."

While the protesters were turning their backs on the road, two mourners in suits threw small bunches of flowers at the gun carriage bearing the coffin.

The petals lay strewn on the road long after the hearse had arrived at, and then left, St Paul's.

Commander Christine Jones, of the Metropolitan Police, praised the demonstrators for having consulted officers in advance and said it was a testament to the public that the event had passed off successfully. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent