A lion’s heart of gold: Baroness Thatcher LG OM FRS 1925 – 2013

BaronessThatcherLG2On Wednesday, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will see the funeral of one of the greatest Prime Ministers of our history unfold from the first movements at the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster along the streets of Whitehall in the city of Westminster into the City of London, pausing at St Clement Danes, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force where her coffin will be transferred to the gun carriage for the final procession to the Cathedral Church of St Paul, where the Funeral Service will take place.

Birth date: saintly king’s translation

Born on the Feast of the Translation of St Edward the Confessor in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty-five, Margaret Hilda Roberts would dominate in later life the Palace of Westminster which was first established close to the Benedictine Abbey at Westminster by St Edward the Confessor, King of England from 8 June 1042 to 5 January 1066.

Whether the future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland would have realised that she was born on the feast day of the last King of the House of Wessex or not is not clear. But it was with great distinction that Margaret Thatcher served the people of Finchley as their representative in Parliament, and later as the eighth Prime Minister of the present reign.

The election that saw her come to power as Prime Minister was held on my first birthday in 1979. This is my closest link with her. Many tributes were paid to her in Parliament last week, one which stood out for me as I was reading the report of the debate in the Commons was from Colonel Bob Stewart DSO, member of Parliament for my mother’s home town of Beckenham, Kent:

Many hon. Members have paid tribute to Margaret Thatcher’s care for thearmed forces. Thirty years ago, after my rifle company, A Company the Cheshires, was blown to bits, she flew into Northern Ireland and came with me to Musgrave Park military hospital. Thirty-five of my men had been wounded and six had been killed. She went around the beds and stopped, talked, wept, caressed, sat with and inspired those men. I was incredibly impressed.

A year later, again in Northern Ireland, Margaret Thatcher visited my company at Aughnacloy in south Tyrone. She flew in with the Special Air Service and I briefed her. I asked her, “Prime Minister, do you have any questions?” She said, “Make sure, Bob, that I meet all the soldiers who were wounded a year ago.” She did. My goodness, that lady—that Iron Lady—had the heart of a lion and that lion’s heart was made of gold.

It seems rather fitting that the coat of arms of Baroness Thatcher, illustrated above has two golden lions on it. I wonder if Colonel Stewart realised that when he made his comment.

The Right Honourable Margaret Hilda, Baroness Thatcher, Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Member of the Order of Merit, One of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, was born on 13 October 1925 and died on 8 April 2013 aged 87, she is survived by her children The Honourable Carol Thatcher, and The Honourable Sir Mark Thatcher, Bt.

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