By JILL LAWLESS
A view of the St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London, Tuesday, April 9, 2013. The funeral service of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will be held at the cathedral on Wednesday April 17. Thatcher, the combative “Iron Lady” who infuriated European allies, found a fellow believer in former US President Ronald Reagan and transformed her country by a ruthless dedication to free markets in 11 bruising years as prime minister, died Monday, April 8, 2013. She was 87 years old. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
LONDON (AP) — Invitations to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral are going out to more than 2,000 celebrities, dignitaries, colleagues and friends of the late British leader — from former U.S. presidents to composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Invitations are being printed Thursday and will be mailed out on Friday, the government said.
Thatcher, who died Monday at the age of 87, will be given a funeral with military honors at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday.
Though not officially a state funeral, it is the grandest such service seen in Britain since the death in 2002 of the Queen Mother Elizabeth.
Queen Elizabeth II will be among the mourners — the first time the monarch has attended a prime minister’s funeral since the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.
The invitation list includes all surviving U.S. presidents, British politicians past and present, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said the list — drawn up by Thatcher’s family, her Conservative Party and the government — includes representatives of 200 states and organizations with whom Britain has diplomatic relations, as well as current and former world leaders who had a “close connection to Baroness Thatcher.”
Some of those figures most closely associated with her 1979-1990 tenure have said they will not attend. Nancy Reagan, widow of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, will send a representative, and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says poor health prevents him from coming to London.
A representative of Nelson Mandela — whom Thatcher once called a terrorist — has also been invited.
Entertainment figures include novelist Frederick Forsyth, singer Shirley Bassey and “Top Gear” TV host Jeremy Clarkson.
The dress code for the funeral calls for day dress, morning dress, dark suit or “full day ceremonial without swords.”
The scale of the funeral — and the multimillion-pound (dollar) expense — has drawn criticism. Thatcher divides opinion in death, as her uncompromising free-market economic policies did in life.
But Cameron said “it is right to have a ceremonial funeral, with key elements of a state funeral, with the troops lining the route.”
“I think people would find us a pretty extraordinary country if we didn’t properly commemorate with dignity, with seriousness, but with also some fanfare … the passing of this extraordinary woman,” he told Sky News.