Tuesday, April 09, 2013


When I first saw the news on my twitter feed just before lunchtime yesterday, I decided not to retweet it or comment before I was sure it was true, as hoax tweets on this subject had been posted before. [Apparently some people who do not have a life find it amusing to spread rumours of the death of others.]  It was only when Alex Crawford of Sky News tweeted the announcement that I realised it must be true and just afterwards online newspapers reported it and the news went around the world.

How, then, is it being reported in Italy? Yesterday it was, here as elsewhere, the top story and most papers used Margaret Hilda Thatcher's most famous nickname and emphasised the fact that she was Britain's "first and only" female Prime Minister. Much coverage was given to David Cameron's statement and soon collections of the lady's most famous quotes were appearing in Italian sources. Several women's pages have given space to her dress sense and the online edition of Io Donna, Corriere della Sera's women's magazine, has an article entitled Addio al tailleur più temuto del mondo - Farewell to the most feared suit in the world. I rather liked that one.  [I don't remember Winston Churchill's or Ted Heath's fashion choices making the headlines when they died but those of other male world leaders might - you never know.]

Most online editions here made the funeral arrangements their top story for a few hours today but political turmoil at home has knocked Thatcher news off Italian front pages tonight and you actually have to search quite hard for it. When you do find it, you encounter Italian correspondents' puzzlement at the different grades of VIP funerals that can be held in Britain and genuine dismay that the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales was "only" what is known in Britain as a "ceremonial" one [that is, with full military honours but not a full state funeral]. Baroness Thatcher is to be accorded this type of funeral.

The other element of this story which is being reported here with puzzlement and shock is the fact that some of my compatriots are celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher. Corriere della Sera calls this type of rejoicing "macabre". The Italian press are also picking up on the fact that the "Iron Lady", though admired for her strength around the world, was, at home, a deeply divisive figure and remains so in death. The striking differences in the way newspapers in Britain have chosen to remember her are being reported with surprise and wonderment.

Meanwhile, film maker Ken Loach's caustic comment that the funeral "should be privatised because she'd have wanted it" is receiving more coverage here than it has at home.

People I have spoken to today seem to be under the impression that Britain is plunged into national mourning on a Diana-esque scale, which is not true, and do not understand why it takes ten days to organise a funeral.  I have told them that it doesn't because the funeral will have been planned years ago but that the time is probably needed to put in place the massive security that will be required.

Britons, then, continue to argue about Margaret Thatcher and the world looks on in interest and bewilderment.


Betty said...

Here they keep commenting on the fact that Britain has had a woman Prime Minister and yet we have never had a woman President. I used to think there would be one in my lifetime, but now I'm not so sure. I think it's far more likely that Britain will have another woman Prime Minister before we have our first President.

Lee said...

I think it sad, and quite disgusting and disgraceful the way some are behaving...celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher.

I don't care if they didn't like her politics...that they disagreed with her...cheering in the streets and waving banners is a very low form of human behaviour in my humble opinion.

She was an elderly lady of 87 years who was in the grips of Alzheimer's.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That's interesting, Betty. You don't think Hillary will do it in 2016?
Hi, Lee. I agree.


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