The ex prime minister Margaret Thatcher is to have her ashes interred (buried) next to those of her late husband Denis.
Following the private cremation of Mrs Thatcher at Mortlake cremation in South West London the family plan to keep hold of the ashes until the autumn before interring them at the Royal Chelsea Hospital in London.
According to the Telegraph newspaper a friend of the family said: “They are very conscious that there will be a lot of interest surrounding the internment of the ashes. They thought it would be better to leave it and do it at some point in the future. The family have heard some of the ideas but they need to think about it.” ….I am sure we have some they hadn’t thought of!
As with many couples, those together in life would like to be close to each other after their death, why the family chose to inter (bury) rather than scatter and why they chose the Royal Chelsea hospital I could not say and I doubt we shall ever know. Interring ashes is a quite a popular choice, some have said it seems a little counter intuitive – to choose to be cremated and they to bury the ashes rather than simply being buried. However at the start of the twentieth century most people were buried and at the end most were cremated, within the space of a hundred years the culture shifted massively and therefore perhaps the burying of ashes is a part of that legacy.
I think another reason may be that interring somewhere gives us a specific place to memorialise, in the UK we are not that comfortable with shrines and not everyone would be comfortable having somewhere inside their house where the ashes were placed and memorialised, but a churchyard, cemetery, formal gardens or woodlands can feel more acceptable.
Funeral culture takes time to change and memorialisation may take even longer and I am sure there is a strong link with belief systems, you could probably map the move to cremation with the secularisation of the country. And whilst I am not suggesting the two are intrinsic (many devote Christians opt for cremation) I would think that people still want to ‘go’ somewhere and remember their loved ones.
As to Mrs Thatcher, we will keep you posted.