17/04/2013 12:30 BST | Updated 19/04/2013 04:29 BST

Margaret Thatcher's Funeral: Students' Surprise At Neutral Crowd

Margaret Thatcher was a figure who divided a generation, but, as thousands flocked to St Paul's for the former prime minister's funeral, what did she mean for younger generations?

Amid the scores of mourners, onlookers and occasional protester, there was a handful of students and young people who attended, many of whom are still sat on the fence when it comes to Thatcher's controversial policies.

"We are here to bear witness," says Morwenna, a Londoner who attended the funeral procession with a friend. "I haven't really made up my mind about Thatcher's policies," the 23-year-old, who is currently looking for employment, admits. "But I wanted to come down and pay my respects."

A lone Union Jack flag is waved by a member of the public in the largely neutral crowd

Despite fears protesters would marr the day's events, the crowds who lined the streets surrounding the cathedral gave Thatcher's coffin, which was draped in a Union Jack flag, a round of applause as it arrived on a gun carriage.

Isaac and Aarav, two first-year students from King's College London were also among the crowds gathered outside St Paul's.

"We're here out of interest really," Aarav says. "Neither of us have ever been to a state funeral before. We came out of curiosity more than anything."

"We are pretty surprised at the lack of protesting," Isaac adds. "Considering she was such a divisive figure there's been very little on that front."

"And," Aarav guiltily admits, "we're a bit disappointed."

If the students had trudged down to nearby Ludgate Circus, they wouldn't have been so disappointed. There, protesters booed, chanting “scum” and “what a waste of money” as Thatcher's coffin was driven through the streets in a hearse.

Dave Winslow, 22, an anthropology student from Durham, was joined by three others at Ludgate Circus, next to St Paul's Cathedral, where the funeral service was taking place.

Holding a placard reading "Rest of us in Poverty" and wearing a T-shirt with the messages "power to the people" and "society does exist", Winslow said up to 200 demonstrators were expected.

"We plan to turn our backs," he said. "We want to maintain a dignified protest, it's counter-productive to cat-call and sing Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead."


By the time the hearse reached St Paul's, the protesters numbered a mere few, who simply held up placards or broadcast their views to neighbouring onlookers.

The masked woman made up one of the four protesters HuffPost glimpsed outside St Paul's cathedral

HuffPost then bumped into a smartly suited and booted group of students from Warwick University - who were firmly on one side of the fence. The members of the conservative society had made the trip from their respective homes across the country to pay their respects to Thatcher.

"We're on Easter break at the moment so it wasn't as simple as all jumping on the coach together," explains Will Sheard. "Around 15 of us came down, with one of us leaving at 5.20am."

The group, who were wearing corsages, even brought a bouquet for the late prime minister.

The Warwick University Conservative Society pays its respects to the late former prime minister

"I did think there would be a lot more controversy today," Sheard adds, "But I am very pleased there isn't."

Ruan Tremayne, outgoing events manager for the society, concluded: "It was a show of the best of British."

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