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LONDON — A large police presence had already been planned for former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral today, even before Monday’s deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Scotland Yard said more than 4,000 officers will be deployed and a police officer will be visible every few yards of the 3-mile procession route, which goes from the Palace of Westminster to St. Paul’s Cathedral ahead of the funeral ceremony.
Local residents are braced for gridlock in the city and also expect a large number of nonviolent protests.
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Ms. Thatcher, who was both fiscally and socially conservative, was a divisive and controversial leader, said Neil Armson, a lifelong London resident and a self-described Socialist.
“Internationally, she represented the U.K. very, very well,” Mr. Armson, 55, said on Tuesday while sitting outside a London pub, The Swan, near Hyde Park. “But domestically, if you lived under her regime, it was a pretty hard time.”
Although he admits a “grudging respect” for her “political genius,” he thinks the elaborate funeral is not something most Britons are happy about.
“I’m upset that they are making such a pageant of it,” he said. “She should just quietly drift off into the ether.”
Another longtime London resident, Simon Cross, expressed dismay at the amount of money being spent on the funeral, which is estimated to cost $12 million to $15 million, including the large police presence.
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“I think she did a lot for our country — and she also undid a lot for our country,” Mr. Cross said. “Which means she was no better or worse than any other prime minister.”
The funeral will be attended by Queen Elizabeth II and U.S. dignitaries, including former vice president Dick Cheney. President Obama has named two former secretaries of state to lead the U.S. delegation at the funeral: George Shultz and James Baker.
Others expected to attend include former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger. The U.S. House of Representatives is sending three Republican members of Congress to London, including Minnesota congressman Michele Bachmann, who sought the Republican nomination for president in 2012, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, and Rep. George Holding.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police Commander Christine Jones said protests would be allowed.
No arrests have been made so far against people suspected by police of wanting to commit crimes at the funeral, but she said that remained an option. Police said a small number of people planning protests had contacted them, and the authorities urged those wanting to demonstrate to get in touch.
“The right to conduct peaceful protest is a tenet of our democracy. However, that right is qualified in that protest does not stray into acts of crime or violence or the instigation of crime or violence,” Ms. Jones said.
Activists are planning to turn their backs on Mrs. Thatcher’s coffin as it passes, and to hurl milk at the participants in the funeral procession, the Daily Mail reported. The milk is aimed at showing disdain for the woman who was once known by opponents as the “milk snatcher.”
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