Monday, November 23, 2009
Thatcher Portrait Unveiled in Number Ten
It was nice to see Margaret Thatcher back in her natural habitat this afternoon - 10 Downing Street. She was attending the unveiling of an official portrait of her by the superb artist, Richard Stone. I have met Richard before, and indeed have one of his previous paintings of Lady T on my dining room wall. He has captured her brilliantly.
My informant at the event in Downing Street this afternoon tells me that about 60 people were present. Gordon Brown made a very warm speech paying tribute to Lady Thatcher and her time as Prime Minister. "You were a great leader and I want to thank you for the great service you gave to our country," he said. The event took place in the Pillared Room in Number Ten. Brown said he had asked Lady T what had changed since her time. She said the upholsetery used to be red and now it was green. Brown said he was very surprised there had been anything red in Downing Street in the 1980s. He quoted John Ruskin who said that great historical figures are judged by their deeds, words and art. Lady Thatcher had already fulfilled the first two criteria, he said, and now it was time for the third. As the portrait was being unveiled, Lady Thatcher remarked "Thank you very much. I like it." Brown himself led the applause.
No cameras or press were allowed, apart from an official photographer. I assume pictures will appear on the Downing Street website shortly. Among the guests were David Cameron, Bernard Ingham, Michael Forsyth, Will Lewis, John Whittingdale, Lord McAlpine, Maurice Saatchi, Kelvin MacKenzie and Tim Bell.
Some of the guests were heard joking about holding Gordon Brown hostage and launching a coup there and then. It would not have been difficult. Brown was the only Labour supporter in the room.
UPDATE: Ben Brogan, who was present, has an account of the event on his BLOG.