Dick Cheney to attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral
Dick Cheney, the former US vice-president and driving force behind the country’s invasion of Iraq, is to attend Lady Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday, Downing Street have confirmed.
Number 10 said Cheney would attend with his wife Lynne. Other high-profile US guests include Dr Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations and a key Cold War figure, and the maverick rightwinger Ross Perot.
In a widely expected snub, Argentina’s ambassador to the UK, Alicia Castro, has declined to attend.
President Barack Obama announced on Monday that the former US secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker III would lead a US presidential delegation to the ceremony. Louise Susman, the recently departed US ambassador in London, would also attend, the White House said.
Obama declined to attend the funeral himself, opting instead for a comparatively low-key delegation, with no serving members of his administration present. Michelle Bachmann, the ultra-conservative former presidential candidate, will attend with two other Republicans from Congress.
Downing Street indicated on Tuesday that Cheney was attending in a personal capacity, not as an official US representative. Nonetheless, his presence is likely to enrage many. As George W Bush’s number two between 2001-2009, Cheney was one of the chief architects of the war in Iraq.
Since leaving office, Cheney has refused to apologise for taking the US to war and has been a relentless critic of Obama’s alleged security policy failings. He has defended the use of enhanced interrogation techniques against prisoners.
French diplomats have confirmed that Elisabeth Guigou, the Socialist MP and head of the parliament foreign affairs committee, will represent France at Thatcher’s funeral. She was a close advisor to the president François Mitterrand during most of the Thatcher years. In the 1990s she had several cabinet posts including minister for European Affairs and justice minister. No serving French minister is expected to attend the funeral.
Downing Street also said that leading former members of Thatcher’s Cabinet will attend, including Lord Patten, Sir Malcom Rifkind and Peter Lilley. Several other former MPs now in the Lords will attend, including Lady Boothroyd, Lord Sebastian Coe, Sir Menzies Campbell and David Trimble.
John Sargeant, the former BBC political correspondent, will also be a guest, Downing Street said. It was Sargeant who famously thrust a microphone in Lady Thatcher’s face in 1990 when she announced outside the British embassy in Paris that she would contest a second round in the Conservative party leadership contest. Hours later she resigned.
Other guests include the new director-general of the BBC, Tony Hall, the Tory supporter Raymond Monbiot and the civil servant Sir Alex Allen, David Cameron’s independent advisor.