LONDON, Apr 11 – Britain has invited all the surviving US ex-presidents to the funeral of former premier Margaret Thatcher next week as part of a more than 2,000-strong guest list, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said on Thursday.
All of Britain’s surviving ex-prime ministers have also been invited along with a representative of the family of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and representatives from around 200 states and international organisations, Downing Street said in a statement.
Celebrities including diva Shirley Bassey and Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of the BBC television motoring programme “Top Gear”, are among those who have already accepted invitations, it added.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had told the government he was unable to attend due to health reasons, a Downing Street spokesman told AFP, a day after Gorbachev’s spokesman made a similar statement.
There was no immediate word on whether US presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush would attend. Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has also been invited.
“The invitations to the funeral service of Baroness Thatcher at St Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday 17 April will be printed today and will start being dispatched tomorrow,” Downing Street said on Thursday.
“The guest list has been drawn up by Lady Thatcher’s family and representatives with the assistance of the government and the Conservative party. It is expected that over 2,000 invitations will be sent out,” it said.
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner has not been invited, Downing Street confirmed, showing the continuing tensions over the Falkland Islands. Thatcher sent troops to retake the islands from invading Argentina troops in 1982.
Downing Street said that “in agreement with Lady Thatcher’s representatives, around 200 states, territories and international organisations are being invited to send an official representative to the funeral service.”
“We have invited those countries and institutions with whom we have normal diplomatic relations,” it said.
Diplomatic relations between Britain and Argentina were restored in 1990.
“In addition, there are invitations being made in a personal capacity to some current and former world leaders as well as others from overseas who had a close connection to Baroness Thatcher.”