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A dignified farewell to Baroness Thatcher

In the end today, it passed off much as Margaret Thatcher's most fervent supporters hoped it might and if there were protests, they certainly did not disrupt the funeral nor sully what was indisputably a dignified farewell.

Was it a national event (as her admirers contend) or a piece of carefully constructed - and inappropriate - political theatre (as her detractors insist)?

Well, you will all have your own answers to that question, but perhaps the most obvious conclusion is simply that we do these events exceptionally well. One might even argue that they are part of our DNA as a nation.

There are plenty of questions one can soberly ask about today and what it means. It is still unclear in what circumstances such a ceremonial occasion should be considered appropriate.

The coffin of Baroness Thatcher is carried into St Paul's Cathedral. Credit: PA Wire

Will Tony Blair get a similar send-off, for example, and if not, why not? After all, he was Prime Minister for a similar length of time and with overwhelming public approval at each election, even if he himself would probably argue his period in office was not quite so transformative.

Will we ever see its like again? Given our tarnished view of political leaders these days, it is possible that we might not.

In the service itself, the Bishop of London set the tone - and did it well. There was a moment for political argument, he said, but this was neither the time nor the place. He focused on the questions beyond politics; what is that we leave behind and what can we say our lives have really meant?

It is certainly true to say that whatever our position in life, we all face the same questions as we pass through to the other side. And if you are confident of the answers, you can probably count yourself lucky to have such certainty.

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