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Attlee’s Funeral

17 April 2013

Following Margaret Thatcher’s death a number of commentators have sought to contrast the expense of her planned funeral with Clement Attlee’s simple 1967 ceremony. To help you make sense of it all, here’s the full text from page 5 of 12 October 1967’s Guardian:

Quiet Funeral for Lord Attlee

A simple, even austere, funeral service, attended only by his family and close friends, was held yesterday in the ancient Temple Church, close to the flat in central London where he spent the closing years of his life.

Lord Attlee, elder statesman and Labour Party leader for 20 years, died at Westminster Hospital on Sunday, at the age of 84. Fewer than 150 people were at the service, lasting less than 20 minutes. The Prime Minister Mr Harold Wilson, and Mrs Wilson were among the close friends present. 

The service epitomised Lord Attlee’s love of simplicity and directness, with a psalm and two hymns – one of them the rousing ‘Jerusalem’ sung at so many Labour gatherings – and prayers.

The immediate family mourners were his son, Lord Prestwood, with his wife Anne, Lord Attlee’s three daughters, Lady Janet Skipon, now an American citizen, of Iowa City, Lady Felicity Harwood and Lady Alison Davis, and Mr Laurence Attlee, his brother.

Close friends in the congregation included Mr Emanuel Shinwell, Mr James Griffith, Lord Longford, and Mr Alister MacDonald, son of Ramsay MacDonald.

The service was conducted by the Master of the Temple Church, Canon Theodore Milford, assisted by Canon Edward Carpenter, Archdeacon of Westminster Abbey.

Lord Attlee’s ashes are to be interred at a memorial service in Westminster early next month.

Interestingly, Temple Church also provides the backdrop to one of the more contentious comment pieces written this week.

Note – This page was updated on 19 Apr to fix a broken link.


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