At the time of going to press, reports suggest that the funeral procession was largely peaceful. However, BBC commentator David Dimbleby observed “things thrown at [the] horses” drawing the gun-carriage and people were seen carrying anti-Thatcher banners. Booes could be heard on TV coverage. A number of people turned their backs as the coffin passed at Ludgate Circus, with an unconfirmed Tweet saying that “hundreds” did so.
Dominic Francis, 25, organised ‘Maggie’s Good Riddance Party’ via a Facebook event. He explained that he wanted people to protest in order to: “Let the world know the hypocrisy of a state funded funeral for the person who influenced 30 years of cuts to state funding of welfare and services.”
He added: “Spending more than a penny on Thatcher’s funeral whilst cutting welfare to the poorest and most vulnerable in society is utterly distasteful.”
There were 883 attendees on the Facebook page, which told people to have a “right jolly knees up outside the service at St. Paul’s.”
In an invitation decorated with coloured balloons, Francis instructed attendees to “Go dressed as mourners”, “Travel in small groups” and “Time your protest with the passing of the cortege”.
However, he said that he was encouraging protests with a “heavy heart” and that “her mourners should be allowed to grieve in peace”. He backed this up by telling protesters not to “take anything sharp or pointy that could be construed as a weapon” and to “Stay peaceful!”
Scotland Yard had given the go-ahead for people to turn their backs on the coffin, but warned that anyone causing “harassment, alarm or distress” could be arrested. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson echoed this, saying that: “If people do break the law they will be properly dealt with.” However, he acknowledged that: “We live in a democracy where people are entitled to protest, where they are entitled to have fun and do what they want.”
Many attendees on the event Facebook page left well-wishing messages. One said: “I don’t want to celebrate, I want to mark her passing.” Yet others expressed more violent sentiments. One urged people to “TAKE YOUR PISS POT FULL OF PISS” as “ammunition” to throw at the coffin. Another asked: “Eggs or coal which should i take lol”, whilst a third said that he wanted Thatcher to “Rot in hell.”
Francis currently studies at Ruskin College, an educational institution specialising in providing educational opportunities for adults with few or no qualifications.
The College is independent, but its students are eligible to join the Oxford Union, Oxford University clubs and societies, and to use the University’s sports facilities.