Lady Thatcher left instructions that the chancellor and vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, together with two alumni, be invited to her funeral, which is being held today in London.
She presided over Buckingham’s official opening as a university college in 1976 (it became a university in 1983, the first in the UK independent of state funding) and served as its chancellor between 1992 and 1998.
Terence Kealey, the Buckingham vice-chancellor, will attend the funeral alongside the university’s chancellor, Lord Tanlaw, and alumni Flora Fairbairn and Daniel Bakpa.
Professor Kealey said: “I felt very sad to learn of her death. I knew that she never forgot the way that she lost office and the injustice that she felt about it because I shared her opinion.
“I thought that she was a truly great prime minister, one of the four greatest of the 20th Century, and I thought she was always kinder and more vulnerable than people understood because her determination to succeed on behalf of the nation forced her into a more confrontational approach than was true to her character.
“She transformed the nation wholly for the better and, though of course she made mistakes (who doesn’t?), she deserved better than to have been so brutally ejected by others.”
Lady Thatcher gave an insight into her views on higher education in a speech at a Buckingham graduation ceremony in 1993.
“This is a very special university,” she said. “Looking back on the history of this remarkable country whose influence girded the globe, it is astonishing that it had no independent university.
“And yet those English and Scottish people who left our shores to build America, taking with them the sturdy values of effort, independence, thrift, freedom, justice, self-government, and a sense of obligation to one to another – they started private universities and colleges, many of them. Of course they didn’t go to America for subsidies – there weren’t any.”
She added that “like the builders of the New World”, the founders of Buckingham “didn’t want government interfering too much so they went ahead on their own”.