Evangelical Christians Amanda and Michael Thatcher, grandchildren of Lady Thatcher, enter global media spotlight Wednesday at UK's 'Iron Lady', former British prime minister's funeral ceremony.
In front of global television audience of millions, 20-year-old granddaughter of Lady Thatcher, Amanda, led the thousands of dignitaries, friends and former colleagues gathered at St. Paul’s Cathedral in reading one of the scripture lessons. Prime Minister David Cameron then read the second scripture lesson.
Amanda Thatcher, wearing a black coat and dress and wide-brimmed hat with a curling bow, gave a composed and slow reading from the King James Version of Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10-18.
The passage calls on Christians to stand against the “wiles of the devil”: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
According to The Telegraph, a family friend said: “She and her brother are both committed Christians and it gives them an inner confidence. They know they believe.”
Amanda Thatcher delivers a Biblical reading at her grandmother's funeral at St Paul's Cathedral in London on Wednesday.
Her American Texan accent contrasted with the very British ceremony that commemorated the extraordinary life of Baroness Margret Thatcher, who presided over the nation during a period of huge economic and social change from 1979 to 1990.
About a decade ago, Michael Thatcher, as a 14-year-old boy, led the funeral procession of his grandfather Sir Denis. The siblings led a discreet life out of the spot light until now.
Walking ahead of Lady Thatcher's coffin, the siblings carried cushions bearing the insignias of the Order of the Garter and the Order of Merit. Then they sat in the front row of St. Paul’s Cathedral between their father and stepmother and their aunt Carol and her partner. Sir Mark’s first wife Diane Beckett, the sibling’s mother, also attended the funeral.
According to The Guardian, UK’s first female prime minister has placed portraits of Amanda and Michael, along with a framed portrait of her late husband Sir Denis, on the mantelpiece in Thatcher's former home in Chester Square, central London.
Margaret Thatcher told an interviewer in the late 90s that her “greatest delight” was “when my daughter-in-law sends me photographs of the grandchildren, The Guardian reported. Apart from seeing them in the flesh, that is the greatest pleasure I have in the whole year, far exceeding everything else.”
Lady Thatcher is comforted by her grandson Michael, granddaughter Amanda and daughter Carol (far right) outside the memorial service of her late husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, in 2003. Photo PA
Under the influence of their mother Diane, Michael and Amanda are both dedicated evangelical Christians, The Guardian reported. Their social and political conservatism met with their grandmother’s vocal approval.
Margaret Thatcher was raised a Methodist by her father and has considered her Christian faith as the 'bedrock' of her life as she made difficult decision that inevitably met with oppositions from those who disagreed with her policies.
Amanda Thatcher, 19, and Michael Thatcher, 24, with their father, Sir Mark, and his second wife Sarah, outside Lady Thatcher's former home in Chester Square Photo: WARREN ALLOTT
Michael, an accomplished American football player at high school, went on to study at Texas A&M University, and has recently worked for a Republican aligned political organization that aimed to “educate and empower the Hispanic community with conservative values,” according to The Telegraph.
"Michael Thatcher has always been so discreet and prudent about his relationship with Lady Thatcher," the organization's director, Adryana Boyne, wrote this week, calling him and his sister "humble and kind".
Moreover, Boyne described Amanda as “an extraordinary woman of faith with a melodious voice and a kind heart (and as my son Samuel says, she bakes good chocolate lava cakes).”
Amanda, who excelled as a runner at school, is studying at the University of Richmond, in Virginia; her school report said that she was voted “most likely to change the world” by her high school peers. Friends say she has carried out Christian missionary work in China in recent years.
Michael and Amanda hold joint American and British citizenship. They spent much of their childhoods in South Africa. In 1995, their mother Diane agreed to move to Cape Town. There, they settled with Michael taking cricket and hockey lessons and Amanda riding lessons, while their mother devoted herself to Bible study groups, according to The Guardian.
Diane and Lady Thatcher were close, and the former prime minister and Sir Denis spent most Christmases with the family, at least until she became unable to travel, The Guardian reported.
In 2004, Sir Mark was arrested for his involvement in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea. Diane moved with the children back to wealthy Dallas suburb of Highland Park, close to her own parents, according to The Guardian. The sibling’s parents divorced and both later remarried. Margaret Thatcher’s grandchildren now live with their mother and her second husband, a multimillionaire sports publisher.
In the following year after the divorce, Diane wrote, according to The Guardian, “I’m finding it [hard] to forgive him, for the pain he has caused our children.”
In Texas, the children thrived, but the move also cut them off from their father, whose conviction over the coup attempt bars him from entering the US.
When aged 12, the Sunday Times reported, Amanda wrote to President Bush asking him to intervene. "You know how you feel about your daughters? I want my Daddy back in America." She did not receive a reply, the paper reported.