LONDON - Britain's Iron Lady is being laid to rest with a level of pomp and protest reflecting her status as a commanding, polarizing political figure.
A coffin containing the body of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was driven Wednesday from the Houses of Parliament to the church of St. Clement Danes for prayers ahead of the former leader's full funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral.
From there the coffin -- draped in a Union flag and topped with white roses and a note from her children reading "beloved mother" -- will be borne on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses to the cathedral, where 2,300 invited guests await.
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip will be among the mourners, who include dignitaries from around the world, 11 prime ministers, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
Dozens of people camped out overnight near the 17th-century cathedral in hopes of catching a glimpse of Thatcher's flag-draped coffin and its military escort, and hundreds had arrived hours before the funeral was due to start.
"I came to commemorate the greatest hero of our modern age," said 25-year-old Anthony Boutall, clutching a blue rose. "She took a nation on its knees and breathed new life into it."
Flags on government buildings were lowered to half-staff across the country ahead of the service, but not all Britons were joining in the mourning.
Hundreds of political opponents said they would stage a silent protest by turning their backs as the coffin went by.
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