Funerals of Former Prime Ministers

As thousands of mourners including world leaders and dignitaries get ready to pay their respects to Margaret Thatcher, we take a look at the funerals of previous British Prime Ministers that were filmed and can be found in the British Pathé archive. In all, the funerals of eleven PMs feature in the collection. You can view the individual films via the links below, or cycle through this image gallery.

Image: Horse-drawn hearse of William Gladstone.
Image: Horse-drawn hearse of William Gladstone.

 

Funeral films for the following prime ministers:

Lord Asquith

Clement Attlee

Stanley Baldwin

Arthur Balfour

Neville Chamberlain

David Lloyd George

William Gladstone

Andrew Bonar Law

Ramsay MacDonald

and Archibald Primrose

Probably the most notable funeral is that of Winston Churchill, who was given a state funeral in 1965. You can view Pathé’s coverage of the occasion here.

The state funeral of Winston Churchill. Click the still to view the film.
The state funeral of Winston Churchill. Click the still to view the film.

View British Pathé’s Prime Ministers’ Funerals Gallery.

Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013

It has been announced that Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister, has died at the age of 87.

Although British Pathé ended newsreel production in 1970, before Thatcher came to power, there are a few films in the archive that may be of interest. In the 1990s, British Pathé and the BBC co-produced two series, A Day That Shook the World and Twentieth Century Hall of Fame, both of which had episodes on the Thatcher years. The brief summaries can be viewed for free on our website:

1. Hall of Fame: Margaret Thatcher  – Profile of Margaret Thatcher and her political career

2. British Pathé’s Falkland Islands collection – includes A Day That Shook the World episodes on the task force setting sail and the sinking of HMS Sheffield in the 1982 war.

3. A Day That Shook the World: IRA Bombs British Cabinet in Brighton

4. A Day That Shook the World: Thatcher Falls From Power

There are three additional films from the 1970s. One, a news report on Woolwich’s efforts to battle against the school milk ban (the source of Thatcher’s nickname “Maggie Thatcher the Milk Snatcher”) is worth a look. It can be viewed here.

The other two are not so interesting. There’s some brief shots of Thatcher getting out of her car and entering Number 10 part-way through this random assortment of Whitehall scenes and there’s some mute material featuring impersonator / comedian Janet Brown pretending to be Margaret Thatcher in Brighton in 1975.

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Margaret Thatcher was a divisive figure whose impact upon the course of British politics and modern history is incalculable. Her premiership and her legacy will be debated for a long time to come. Feel free to express your own thoughts and feelings below.

British Pathé’s profile of Margaret Thatcher can be viewed here.

The Cats of Downing Street

Or should we say Meow-ning Street?

Today British Pathe paid a visit to 10 Downing Street! (apparently nothing to do with David Cameron’s recent history quiz on Letterman?!) We’re proud to have a wealth of footage in our archive of the iconic Number 10 building and British Pathe filmed some of the most momentous events to have happened there over the last 100 years.

We posted a photo of our staff member John outside the famous black door onto our Twitter page earlier today. But we also managed to take this snap, a photo of the resident cat “Larry” sitting on the windowsill just behind the front door:

Larry, the current mouser at Downing Street.

Cats have long been in place at Downing Street, sitting in and purring throughout important political discussions, brushing ankles with royalty. In the 1990s John Major’s cat Humphrey became a bit of a celebrity:

A police officer strokes Humphrey

Humphrey entered the premises during Thatcher’s time in office. She allegedly made the decision to keep Humphreys, claiming that £100 spent on cat food was better than £4000 spent on a pest control contractor who’d never managed to catch anything. He regularly featured in the tabloid press and even had his own picture book published by HarperCollins in 1995.

The first Downing Street cat to appear in our archive, to our knowledge, is this one in 1940:

A superstitious symbol just seconds before Anthony Eden met with Lord Halifax.

This still image is taken from the British Pathe video “War Cabinet” in which Eden meets Lord Halifax for a critical discussion.

Then we came across this cat sitting on the lap of Harold Wilson’s son at 10 Downing Street:

Clearly Harold’s son hadn’t yet learnt the rule of not looking directly into the lens.

We wanted to find the mouser of Downing Street during Churchill’s time at the top. We’re sure there’ll be a glimpse of cat in one of our Churchill reels. In the meantime we found this pussy who greeted Churchill when he visited Roosevelt in the states in 1940:

Roosevelt’s cat in 1940

The American cats seem to be a more acerbic breed than the more casual and leisurely Downing Street creatures.

Please do help us to find more Downing Street cats in our archive. You can get off to a head start and dive straight into our Downing Street videos by clicking here:

http://www.britishpathe.com/search/query/downing+street

Let us know if spot one! And you can share your findings with us either by leaving a comment below, talking to us on our Facebook page, or tweeting us @britishpathe