Beneath the gilded dome of St Paul’s they came to honour the Iron Lady.
Statesmen and soldiers, peers and commoners gathered to commemorate Margaret Hilda Thatcher.
For only the second time in her long reign, the Queen led the mourners at the funeral of one of her prime ministers.
It may not have been the full state funeral accorded to Winston Churchill, but it had nothing lacking in pomp and circumstance.
It was a service that reflected the woman - traditional British music and readings from the King James Bible.
There was a strong military element - with flashes of gold braid and brilliant red uniform jackets standing out from the muted hues of the other mourners.
As the cortege approached the cathedral a hush fell across the congregation, broken only by the tolling of a single bell.
The coffin, draped in the Union flag, was carried aloft by military bearers behind a softly chanting choir and laid on the bier.
The Dean, the Very Reverend David Ison, gave the bidding recalling her leadership, her courage and her steadfastness as he commended her into the hands of God.
Then her granddaughter, Amanda, stepped forward, immaculate in black, to deliver the first reading - a fiery passage from Ephesians 6 chosen by Lady Thatcher herself.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil,” she declared, her clear American-accented tones ringing out across the vast space.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Listening were not only Lady Thatcher’s own son and daughter, Mark and Carol, but the leaders of a generation dubbed “Thatcher’s children” whose politics - whether for or against her - were irrevocably shaped by her legacy.
Alongside her successors, Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron and their wives sat the man who would be prime minister, Labour leader Ed Miliband.
There were also the politicians of her own generation, men - and they were almost all men - who she for so long dominated and who finally brought her down - “treachery with a smile on its face”, as she later put it.
There were the true believers who defended her to the last like Cecil Parkinson and Norman Tebbit (both now lords) - the latter who spoke last week of his regret at leaving her to “the mercy of her friends”.
There was Geoffrey Howe (now another peer), the faithful supporter who finally turned against her to devastating effect, with a resignation speech that signalled the beginning of the end.
Kenneth Clarke, the first of her cabinet to tell her she had to go, was also there, as was Michael Heseltine (another lord), the king-across-the-water who raised the standard of rebellion against her but never wore the crown.
Alone among the present Cabinet, Mr Clarke chose not to wear black, opting for a grey lounge suit and a blue shirt and tie.
Delivering the address, the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, spoke of the “traumatic” manner in which she was forced out of office.
“After the storm of a life lived in the heat of political controversy, there is a great calm,” he said. “Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings.”
The final hymn was the patriotic anthem, I Vow To Thee, My Country - before the coffin was carried out for its last journey to the elegiac strains of Elgar’s Nimrod variation.