When more than a million people lined the route of the Queen Mother’s funeral, they were there to say farewell to a national treasure held in genuine affection.
And while the Queen Mum and Princess Diana before her went to their graves mourned by a grieving country, the former Tory leader will go to hers to the sound of bitter protests and anger at the fact the ?10million ceremonial funeral will be paid for by hard-pressed taxpayers already being battered by savage cuts.
Critics lined up to slam next Wednesday’s event and the ?5million security operation that will swing into action to prevent the day descending into chaos amid increasing fears of violence along the route from Westminster to St Paul’s Cathedral.
They pointed to the difference in the outpouring of grief for the Queen Mother and Diana after their deaths compared with the split opinions that met 87-year-old Lady Thatcher’s – where some groups were seen celebrating in the streets.
A sea of flowers covered Kensington Gardens near Di’s home when she died in 1997.
Yesterday, just a couple of bouquets lay outside the ex-PM’s house in Belgravia, Central London, along with a pint of milk – a ?reference to her early nickname as Thatcher the milk snatcher.
Labour MP John Mann led the calls for her funeral – with full military honours – to be paid for privately.
He said: “No ?politician now or in the future should have their funeral paid for by the taxpayer.
"I’m happy for them to have St Paul’s but there is an ?important ?principle here. Politicians should not have their funerals paid for by the taxpayer.”
His colleague Graham Stringer called on a ?privatised industry such as BT to pay for the ?ceremony.
He added: “I think that would be symbolic and ?beautifully appropriate.
"The church service with ?military honours I have no difficulty with. She was Prime Minister at a time when we were at war with Argentina.
“It is the taxpayers’ money which she always claimed she wanted to save.”
Around 27,000 had last night signed an ?e-petition on the Government’s website expressing their anger at being forced to pay for the funeral of a woman who made ?400 a minute from her speeches and was worth ?9.5million – and once famously told European leaders: “No, no, no.”
A similar protest on change.org had attracted 1,500 signatures yesterday.
And hundreds of 澳门新蒲京娱乐场 readers demanded Lady Thatcher’s entire send-off should be paid for her by her family rather than just a part of it which has been agreed.
And they pointed out, her son Mark is said to be worth around ?60million.
Joan Harris said: “If the Tories and big business want Margaret Thatcher to have a lavish funeral, OK, but they should pay for it.
"A very big proportion of the population hated her with a vengeance and do not feel we should pay for her funeral.”
Janet Bowley added: “How dare they give this woman a funeral like Diana and the Queen Mother, it is a joke isn’t?
"In this economic climate when we are all being asked to live on ?53 per week where is the money for it coming from, it certainly should not be the taxpayer.
“We could use ?10million for the care of our elderly who are struggling from the policies she introduced all those years ago.
"All the people whose lives she ruined who suffered and are no longer with us will be turning in their graves.”
Pauline Hollins said: “Why should she get a funeral like Diana? Diana was loved for a start, all Thatcher did was completely ruin industry in this country.
"Also why should we pay? The money should be going to those who really need it.”
Denise Clendinning added: “Why don’t they just have a simple service like normal people? After all she won’t be here to hog the highlight.
"Also, if she is having this special funeral then Tony Blair should have the same. He served three terms and he did a better job then she did. Why is she so special.”
There was similar anger on Twitter.
JJ Briden tweeted: “If UK cannot afford to support the poor, weak, sick & vulnerable, why are we paying for a millionaire tyrant’s funeral?”
Cat Hartland-Welch added: “Why are we paying for the funeral of someone who privatised Britain? Pay millions for that but treat poor & disabled people like beggars.”
The outcry came as it was revealed the Queen will break with protocol by attending the ceremony alongside key figures from world politics.
President Barack Obama, Germany’s Angela Merkel, French leader Francois Hollande, former Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev and ex-US Secretary of State Henry ?Kissinger are on the invite list.
Police across the capital have been ordered to cancel any leave they had planned for Operation True Blue next ?Wednesday.
There could be more than 4,000 officers and 2,000 troops lining the route – numbers similar to those at Diana’s send off.
With millions watching around the world, tensions will be high and senior officers are keen to avoid embarrassing incidents.
They are considering using pre-emptive stop and search powers to prevent violence.
Met chiefs are likely to use the Public Order Act, allowing police to stop anyone.
A spokesman said a senior officer can implement the law where they have the ?“intelligence and grounds too suggest it is necessary”.
Scotland Yard added: “We are mindful that this occasion has the potential to attract protest.
“The Met wishes to speak to anyone who may chose to ?demonstrate on Wednesday, or in the coming days, so their right to protest can be upheld whilst respecting the rights of Baroness Thatcher’s family and those who wish to pay their respects.”
Hundreds of specialist police will be working on counter-terrorism measures, with others carefully monitoring CCTV cameras for trouble spots.
Every corner of the route will be checked by sniffer dogs, with sewers and drains closed.
The Yard would not comment on the possible use of rooftop snipers.