Margaret Thatcher Will Have A Ceremonial Funeral. But Some Want It Privatized.

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 8 2013 11:08 AM

Margaret Thatcher Will Have A Ceremonial Funeral. But Some Want It Privatized.

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Britain's Union flag (C) flies at half-mast on top of the Ministry of Defence building in central London, on April 8, 2013, following the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Photo by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

While many initial reactions to Thatcher's death (especially from American conservatives) have been borderline reverent, those who opposed her policies have already settled on a way to mark the day more critically: by campaigning for the conservative icon's funeral to be privatized, in accordance with her economic policies. That campaign has centralized around the hashtag #nostatefuneral.

Strictly speaking, Thatcher won't be getting a state funeral, though the ceremony will be paid for by the state. Thatcher will receive a full, ceremonial funeral with military honors in St. Paul's Cathedral, Downing Street announced shortly after the former Prime Minister's death on Monday.

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In any case, #nostatefuneral began to trend on Twitter pretty much immediately after Thatcher's death. A related petition demanding that her funeral be privatized reached 33,814 signatures before being closed Monday morning. The petition explained the rationale behind the campaign, which is essentially a not-so-oblique reference to the former Prime Minister's privatization of several state-owned industries:

"In keeping with the great lady's legacy, Margaret Thatcher's state funeral should be funded and managed by the private sector to offer the best value and choice for end users and other stakeholders. The undersigned believe that the legacy of the former PM deserves nothing less and that offering this unique opportunity is an ideal way to cut government expense and further prove the merits of liberalised economics Baroness Thatcher spearheaded."

At this point, the campaign is already, obviously, moot. But it speaks to just how divisive the former Prime Minister was and still is in the UK, even as she's about to receive an extremely high honor from the state. As the BBC explains, Thatcher's ceremonial funeral is not quite as esteemed as a state funeral (usually reserved only for sitting monarchs, with the notable exception of Winston Churchill). But the full ceremonial funeral will still give her the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

The details of the funeral are in line with the family's wishes, and will include a private burial.

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Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.