Is Amanda Thatcher the next Pippa Middleton?
Amanda Thatcher, granddaughter of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher leaves her funeral service at St Paul's Cathedral in London on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)
Major public events, no matter how solemn the occasion, can make superstars of those living quiet, anonymous lives.
And so the truism applies to Amanda Thatcher, the 19-year-old granddaughter of Margaret Thatcher whose poise and graceful reading at the former prime minister’s funeral in London today has everyone buzzing.
‘Amanda Thatcher Captivates Britain’ was the headline in the populist Daily Mail tabloid.
‘Close-ups of granddaughter Amanda have given this funeral what many seemed to think it needed: a new Pippa,’ observed a commentator in The Guardian newspaper, referring to the sister of Kate Middleton. Pippa, or more precisely her behind, nearly stole the show at Kate's wedding to Prince William in 2011.
Dressed in fitted black coat dress, a single strand of pearls and a whimsical hat framing her blue eyes, Amanda, whose middle name is Margaret, read from the book of Ephesians at St Paul’s Cathedral.
She clearly has inherited some of her grandmother’s steely genes because if she was nervous about speaking in front of an audience that included the Queen, former diplomat Henry Kissinger and many heads of state, she wasn’t showing it.
In high school the teenager was voted most likely to change the world by fellow students, according to the Daily Mail. She also participated in hurdling in high school. She is currently a student at the University of Richmond in Virginia.
Her older brother Michael, 24, graduated from Texas A&M University and studied chemistry. The siblings grew up in South Africa and later Texas where they were raised by their American mother Diane Burgdorf, who is divorced from their father Sir Mark. Amanda and her brother flew to London from the U.S. over the weekend.
They are Margaret Thatcher's only grandchildren.
Amanda's popularity already eclipses that of her father Sir Mark, who embarrassed the prime minister several times and has never been liked in Britain. He became a laughing stock in 1982 when he got lost in the Sahara desert for six days while competing in a race. Then in 2004 he was implicated in a coup to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea.
Today's funeral has already raised expectations for Amanda's future in politics.
Political commentator Jonathan Freedland (@j_freedland) tweeted about Amanda: ‘Bet somewhere a Texas Republican operative is watching Amanda Thatcher thinking "Wonder if she has political ambitions..."
Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at the Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour