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Last Updated: Monday, 25 July 2005, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Ex-PMs join in tributes to Heath
Sir Edward Heath, House of Commons, 1992

Ex-prime ministers Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major were among prominent politicians paying tribute at the funeral of Sir Edward Heath.

MPs, peers and other dignitaries were among 1,600 paying their last respects at the service in Salisbury Cathedral.

Sir Edward, prime minister from 1970 to 1974, is best remembered for taking the UK into the European Community (EEC).

In his address, the Bishop of Salisbury said Sir Edward's "commitment to unity" ran through his whole life.

The Rt Rev David Stancliffe paid tribute to Sir Edward's convictions over Europe, as well as his love for music, sailing and debate.

He said: "Ted built bridges between countries and nations, between artists and ordinary people, between east and west, between young and old.

Sir Edward Heath's coffin being taken to Salisbury Cathedral
Sir Edward's coffin was borne on a wooden carriage

"He was a shy person who did not have much time for smooth words and social pleasantries.

"From his maiden speech, calling for Britain to participate in early attempts to build a united Europe onwards, his commitment to unity ran like a golden thread through his life.

"No one can doubt his lifelong commitment to Europe, nor for that matter to the unity of the world. In this he exerted his fullest force."

'Strong convictions'

The service saw Sir Edward's coffin draped with a union jack and covered in white lilies.

It was taken on a wheeled wooden carriage from his home, Arundells, which is in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral and entered the church to the trumpeted notes of the Last Post.

In the procession ahead of the coffin into the Cathedral, his Knight of the Garter medal was carried on a cushion.

Baroness Thatcher at the funeral
Baroness Thatcher was amongst the mourners

In line with Sir Edward's wishes, all 1,600 seats in the cathedral were taken by dignitaries alongside ordinary members of the public.

Among the congregation were Lady Thatcher, Sir John and Norma Major, Conservative leader Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Commons Leader Geoff Hoon represented the government.

And previous Tory Cabinet ministers at the service included Lord Geoffrey Howe, Lord Douglas Hurd and Sir George Young.

'Strong beliefs'

Earlier, Sir John Major said he had been "very fond of Ted" and had been a "very strong supporter of his" when he was prime minister.

"He was a man of very strong convictions even though they were sometimes unpopular, he said.

Sir John added: "He was a source of extremely strong convictions, whether you agreed with them or you disagreed with them, here was a man who knew what he was, knew what he stood for and was not a man for shifting."

Lord Armstrong, Sir Edward's former private secretary, said Sir Edward had been a man of "great integrity and determination".

"He came into office with a very clear idea of what he wanted to achieve as prime minister and that achievement was entering the European Community," he said.

"He was loyal to his friends and loyal to his institutions, which were the College of Oxford, the Conservative Party and the Church of England."

Sir Edward died of pneumonia on 17 July, aged 89, at his home in Cathedral Close, Salisbury.

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