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Sat May 23 03:09:31 CAT 2015

'Ray Charles' from Ulundi

ANDILE NDLOVU | 18 April, 2013 00:57

When Britain laid former prime minister Margaret Thatcher to rest yesterday, an unlikely friend paid his respects.

No, it wasn't the hologram of the late Patti Page singing Maggie's favourite song How Much Is That Doggy in the Window? at St Paul's Cathedral.

While the Bishop of London Richard Chartres, gave his sermon, the cameras suddenly panned to a dapper-looking "Ray Charles".

While attendees such as London mayor Boris Johnson, opera singer Katherine Jenkins, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson and former South African president FW de Klerk sat silently, startled viewers wondered whether the reincarnated Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee would take over the keyboard and sing Hallelujah, I Love Her So. But he didn't.

He was no hologram, he was Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Thatcher, the only female prime minister in British history, died of a stroke last week at 87, having governed between 1979 and 1990.

On Twitter, some users displayed what was either ignorance, or wit .

@Jlloydbutler: "Why are Netanyahu and Ray Charles sitting next to each other?"

@TheShottstepper: "Ray Charles?"

@bumface69: "Ray Charles at #thatcherfuneral; WTMF?"

@PaulStafford12: "Good of Ray Charles to show up all the same. What'd I say?"

The Times was unable to get through to Thatcher's surviving relatives, who drew up the guest list with the assistance of the UK government, to confirm whether the right man was invited.

But according to an Inkatha Freedom Party statement on Monday, Buthelezi's trip to London was for the funeral.

The statement read: "Buthelezi leaves for London to attend the funeral of his late friend ... with whom he stayed in very close contact, even after her retirement from politics.

"They found themselves to be kindred spirits, equally committed to the cause of freedom in the world, and to a non-communist outcome to the South African liberation."

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