Margaret Thatcher mourners: In their own words

Mourners lined the streets in London today for the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.

The first spectators around Downing Street arrived as early as 6.30am.

Trevor Fearon, 83, and his wife Doreen, 85, had travelled from West Kensington in west London to see the procession.

"I know there were difficulties over the miners but as I grew older I realised that Britain needed to change"Geraldine Fenn, 47

"Mrs Thatcher was a gutsy woman, especially over the Falklands," said Mr Fearon, who worked in the exhibition industry."

Mrs Fearon said: "She was a good prime minister. At the end she didn't have the backing of her ministers. I hope they feel badly about that now but I doubt it."

Waiting in Whitehall - part of the route her coffin will take on its journey to St Paul's - were Brighton University students Rebecca May, 21, and Javiar Mansell, 20.

Ms May said: "I feel people protesting should remember Lady Thatcher was a mother and a grandmother."

Ms Mansell said: "I don't think people my age have the right to protest about her policies.

"We are here out of respect. Also, it's a historic event."

Joe Walker, 32, a Big Issue-seller from Canada, said he had moved from his usual Regent Street patch to The Strand to take advantage of the increased footfall from the funeral procession.

"It seems like people love her and hate her here, and I can see why," he said.

"It's amazing that people can buy their own council houses in England, it's my dream to own my own house.

"But then I know some people who take advantage of it and sell them on for much higher prices, so no one can get a home."

Looking on in Whitehall was Australian mother-of-two Geraldine Fenn, 47, who was in London for her husband's business conference.

"I remember Margaret Thatcher in a very positive light," said Mrs Fenn, who is from Melbourne.

"I know there were difficulties over the miners but as I grew older I realised that Britain needed to change."
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip outside St Paul's Cathedral after the service (Tim Rooke / Rex Features)
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Alan Southern, 53, was joined by a smartly dressed band of colleagues from the Parachute Regiment in attending the funeral to show his respect.

Mr Southern, who fought in the Falklands War as a 23-year-old and met Lady Thatcher four times, said: "I have no interest at all in what the demonstrators say.

"When we came out for the Remembrance Parade they were all shouting. It's the only day of the year anyone listens to them. They have to remember we fought for them to have the right to do it.

"She achieved so much. She put us back on the world stage" - Cindy Dooley, 61

"Lady Thatcher was an absolutely wonderful lady. She loved the armed forces and she did so much for the country, she put the 'great' back in Great Britain."

Cindy Dooley, 61, and her husband Paul, 62, agreed.

The couple came down from Manchester to pay their respects and were sitting in portable chairs near St Paul's Cathedral at 7.30am, drinking coffee as they waited for the procession.

"She achieved so much," said Mrs Dooley. "She put us back on the world stage.

"We were in our 20s then and nothing was being done, you just got fed up with it.

"Everybody was on strike, it was awful and we needed somebody to make hard decisions and she had the conviction to do it.

"Tony Blair admitted he carried on some of her policies.

"We have always said we wanted to attend her funeral.

"She was in power for 11 years and might be our one and only female leader, we have to respect that."

A hearse carrying the coffin of Baroness Thatcher passes the gates of Downing Street on Whitehall

Trafalgar Square, the scene of protests in recent days, was calm this morning, with a few dozen spectators waiting for Lady Thatcher's coffin to go past.

Student Charly Wright, 19, said she believed the fierce response to her death had been fuelled by social media.

"Young people are influenced by what they read on Twitter and it's easy for them to get caught up in the hype without really understanding anything about it," she said.

Her friend, Joel Enfield, also 19, said: "I've been more motivated to come here because of the reaction to her death.

"There's been so much tension around it.

"Most of the young people against her don't really have a clue about her time as leader, they're just taking on their parents' views and those around them.

"They forget she was re-elected twice and ultimately was voted out by her own party.

"She had some incredible achievements but people only seem to remember the bad."

The pair, who are studying at drama school in the capital, said it had been a "spontaneous" decision to line the route.

"I think it will be seen as an iconic event in the future," Mr Enfield said.

"We also thought the experience could be quite inspiring."

David Hogarth, a 74-year-old charity co-ordinator from St John's Wood, north-west London, made a special trip because of the threat of protests.

He said: "I admire Lady Thatcher. I felt that when people said they would turn their backs that I would be one of those who would not turn their back.

"She was highly divisive but it is one thing to be against her and quite another to have a party or protest when she dies. I think it is particularly sad as a lot of the protesters are young people who never really knew her."

Decorator Vic Bellamy, 56, a former Grenadier guardsman of Kingston-upon-Thames, stood proudly wearing his service medals.

He said: "She was not always right but she made you feel proud to be British and to do your own thing.

"The politicians now are career politicians but she was a conviction politician."

A corner of Trafalgar Square was filled with folk music as a man describing himself as the "Britain's Got Talent Irish dancer" pranced around in front of a sound system and drew a small crowd.

He held aloft a large sign bearing the words: "Margaret Thatcher was courageous and patriotic but flawed like all politicians".

Neil Horan, 65, said he had not come to protest.

"I'm here for different reasons," he said.

"Thatcher was a great politician of the 20th century.

"I think, from a Christian point of view, I didn't really back her policies, but nevertheless she had great courage and a love of her country."

Among the first to arrive was Alison Trimble, 59, from Sidcup, south east London, who said she had chosen to watch the procession from The Strand to avoid the crowds.

"It's not about the celebrities for me, I just want to see her," the office administrator said.

"I greatly admire the lady. She was a woman of courage and made decisions that had to be taken even if they were not popular."

Brothers Peter and Robin Hardy, 50 and 49, had come from Ashford, Kent, to pay their respects.

Retired police officer Peter Hardy said: "Irrespective of politics, people should just respect it's an old lady who died.

"Personally, I admire the stand she took on the EU and the unions."

People from around the world who never knew life with Lady Thatcher as prime minister also turned out to witness what they saw as an historic occasion.

Italian Valentina Digiorgio, 27, who has been in London for six months, said: "Baroness Thatcher is a major character in history and even if you are not interested in politics, this is a thing that happens once in your life."

Giselle Bartoloni, 53, who was hosting friend Elsa Niero, 52, while on holiday from Brazil, said their country needed an Iron Lady like Lady Thatcher.

"I like the way she put England on the right path," Ms Bartoloni said.

"In Brazil now there are a lot of strikes, like in England when she came to power, and a lot of corruption.

"She's a very important woman in the world and we came to pay respect to her."

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