Thatcher funeral: serving foreign leaders thin on the ground at St Paul’s
Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and Donald Tusk of Poland attend service but Obama adminstration opts for low-key presence
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Donald Tusk of Poland led a comparatively short list of serving international leaders attending Lady Thatcher’s funeral.
Other high-profile figures at St Paul’s included the former South African president FW de Klerk and the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger. The Polish solidarity leader, Lech Walesa, the former Australian prime minister John Howard and the former US vice-president Dick Cheney – there in a private capacity – also attended the cathedral.
But the Obama administration opted for a low-key presence, dispatching two other former US secretaries of state from the 1980s, George Shultz and James Baker, to lead an official delegation. Strikingly, there were no representatives from either the Clinton or the Bush families, with Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of state, absent.
The last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, Thatcher’s cold war contemporary, was unable to travel to London. Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, tweeted that he was going to the service representing Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. South Africa sent only its deputy high commissioner in London; President Jacob Zuma was in Algeria.
Neither Nelson Mandela nor anyone from his family came. A spokesman for the British high commission in Pretoria said: “We extended an invite to the Mandela family but we were told nobody would be attending.”
The funeral service was broadcast live across the world live in countries including Holland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, as well as on BBC World television. But relatively few European leaders turned up in person. The Germany chancellor, Angela Merkel, dispatched her foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, who chatted at the service with his British counterpart, William Hague.
Downing Street said 11 serving prime ministers and dignitaries representing 170 countries were at the service.
Other foreign guests included the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, and former prime minister Brian Mulroney. The recently retired ex-Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, was there, together with the Czech prime minister, Petr Necas. Greece sent its foreign minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos.
- Margaret Thatcher
- Binyamin Netanyahu
- Nelson Mandela
- Angela Merkel
- Hillary Clinton
- Obama administration
- United States
- US politics
- South Africa
- Middle East and North Africa
- New Zealand
- Asia Pacific
- William Hague
- Vladimir Putin
- Jacob Zuma
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Dick Cheney