Thatcher Funeral: The Clock Stops

Big Ben stops as mark of respect for first time in half a century as Margaret Thatcher’s funeral gets underway
By Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.
April 17, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

As mourners gathered for Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, London’s most famous landmark fell silent as a mark of respect. 

The funeral hearse left Westminster at precisely 10am, its progress followed on national TV, and on any other day would have been accompanied by the characteristic chime of the famous clock that stands above the Houses of Parliament. 

A controversial decision by the Speak of the House, John Bercow, means the bells will remain silent for 3 hours during the funeral of the former Prime Minister 

The bells of Big Ben were last silenced out of respect nearly half a century ago, for Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral. 

 The decision to silence the clock has been seen by some as yet another move towards a de facto state funeral. 

The Speaker told MPs on Tuesday: “I have received a number of representations, direct and indirect, formal and informal, concerning how the house and parliament as an institution might best mark this occasion.” 

“I believe that there can be a profound dignity and deep respect expressed in and through silence and I’m sure that the house will agree.”

Margaret Thatcher was a divisive political figure in life, and the handling of her death has also been divisive. Politicians and officials have been trying to navigate the line between respecting the death of a highly influential former stateswoman and the strong feelings and arguments that still surround her political legacy.

Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.