“The Applause Came From Nowhere”

The Ceremonial Funeral Of Former British Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher

A sketch of the scene today in London:

No one knew who’d started it – perhaps it was purely instinctual. But as the hearse came into view, the crowds found themselves breaking into applause – applause that followed the hearse all the way along the route, until it drew up at the church of St Clement Danes.

Then, once the coffin had been loaded on to the gun carriage and the horses moved off, the applause started again – and followed it all the way to St Paul’s. Down the roads it spread and spread and spread, a long impromptu chain of respect and appreciation.

The applause wasn’t rowdy; there were no whoops or whistles. It was steady, warm, dignified. But also, somehow, determined. At Ludgate Circus, protesters began to boo and jeer – only to find the rest of the crowd applauding all the more loudly to drown them out.

The Guardian is less moved:

There was gentle clapping as the cortege, with police motorcycle escort, drove slowly through cordoned-off streets… [London Mayor Boris] Johnson said outside: “Even for her fans and supporters like me, I don’t think we expected to see quite so many people turn up to show their affection and their respect for Margaret Thatcher. It is a quite astonishing crowd.”

One thing stood out for me: Thatcher herself asked for no eulogies. Just Bible readings and hymns. And a remarkable sermon: