Pallbearer proud to carry Margaret Thatcher’s coffin
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
A pallbearer who helped carry Margaret Thatcher’s coffin, has described the “enormity” of his job at yesterday’s funeral.
Richard Putt, 60, was one of a group of pallbearers who carried the coffin into St Clement Danes Church, Westminster, ahead of the former prime minister’s funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The grandfather-of-two is a director at Leverton & Sons Ltd, in Camden – the Royal Family’s chosen funeral directors, which arranged Diana, Princess of Wales’ funeral in 1997, as well as Baroness Thatcher’s.
Mr Putt, who dressed Princess Diana’s body after her death, said: “The enormity of [what we do] could just be overwhelming but you can’t let it get to you. You can’t let people down.
“We are very professional and we have to be seen to be in complete control, even if in our head we are going mad.
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“It is very strange and afterwards you do pinch yourself and think, ‘what have I been doing?’ But we are very proud of what we do.”
Following her death at the Ritz Hotel, Baroness Thatcher’s body was taken to Leverton & Sons’ mortuary in Ferdinand Place, Chalk Farm, where it stayed for more than a week before being driven by police escort to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in Westminster Palace.
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Baroness Thatcher’s body was kept overnight in the chapel on Tuesday before a Leverton & Sons’ hearse took the coffin to St Clement Danes where Mr Putt and his colleagues then carried it inside.
Describing the atmosphere inside the church as he carried the coffin, Mr Putt said: “I can honestly say that I wasn’t really aware of anything else going on. I was concerned solely with what we were doing.
“There was a very sombre atmosphere – it was quiet apart from the organs playing.”
The coffin, flanked by military personnel, was then taken by gun carriage through the streets of London to St Paul’s Cathedral for the funeral, which was attended by about 2,300 people, including the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron.
David Douglas, agent for Hampstead and Kilburn Conservatives, who has been an agent for the party for 26 years and first joined as a Young Conservative in 1982, was honoured to receive an invitation to the funeral.
Speaking to the Ham&High from outside the cathedral before going into the funeral, he said: “One thing you do realise is it’s very much like a family funeral.
“There’s so many people that you see that you’ve known over more than 30 years. It’s very moving even before the service starts.
“Everyone is just remembering the greatest prime minister this country has had since the war.”
After the funeral, Hampstead Garden Suburb councillor John Marshall, a former Tory MP, said: “It was a very moving occasion. Baroness Thatcher’s daughter was almost in tears when she left.
“I think the Bishop of London gave a wonderful service – it was a very fitting tribute.”