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Thatcher’s funeral cost British taxpayers $2.5 million

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, April 25, 2013 15:26 EDT
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The coffin of British former prime minister Margaret Thatcher arrives on a gun carriage drawn by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery during her ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral in central London, April 17, 2013. (AFP)
 
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Margaret Thatcher’s funeral cost British taxpayers an estimated £1.6 million ($2.5 million 1.9 million euros), with a further £2 million spent on police who would have been on duty anyway, Downing Street said Thursday.

Though never likely, back-of-an-envelope newspaper guesses in the run-up to the former prime minister’s funeral last week estimated the cost at £10 million.

That inflamed far-left activists, angry at the expenditure on the Conservative titan amid the public spending cuts aimed at reining in Britain’s budget deficit.

Of the £1.6 million figure, £1.1 million went on policing and security, Downing Street said.

The remaining £500,000 was spent on ceremonial costs such as St Paul’s Cathedral, receptions after the funeral and circulating the invitations.

Thatcher’s family paid for the flowers and the undertaking costs, for which no figures have been published.

Thatcher, in office from 1979 to 1990, proved a hate figure for the far left in death as much as in life.

Spurred on by the £10 million guess, some demonstrators yelled “waste of money” during her funeral procession, while others brandished banners with the figure on and more cited it as their reason for protesting.

Thatcher was Britain’s only female prime minister and the longest-serving of the 20th century. She died on April 8 following a stroke.

The 87-year-old was given a ceremonial funeral with full military honours at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on April 17.

Two heads of state, 11 prime ministers, 17 foreign ministers and dignitaries representing 170 countries attended.

Foreign Secretary William Hague hosted one of two receptions for representatives from foreign states.

The other was for Thatcher’s friends and family and representatives of British institutions. Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior ministers attended both.

Downing Street said the final costs would be published in due course, and expected them to be close to the estimated totals.

In the run-up to the funeral, Hague tried to put the costs in context by saying the European Union rebate Thatcher negotiated had saved Britain £75 billion so far.

Britain has narrowly avoided a triple-dip recession, though it is still operating with a hefty budget deficit, adding to its record debt pile, official figures out this week showed.

Britain avoided falling into a third recession since the 2008 global financial crisis after its economy grew by 0.3 percent in the first quarter.

Meanwhile public sector net borrowing stood at £120.6 billion in the 12 months to the end of March.

Britain’s total public sector net debt hit a record £1.186 trillion in March, equivalent to 75.4 percent of gross domestic product.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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