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‘Remarkable' Betty Boothroyd remembered at funeral attended by PM

The coffin of former Speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd is carried into St George's Church in Thriplow, Cambridgeshire (Joe Giddens/PA)
Sophie Wingate and David Hughes, PA Political Staff

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer are among mourners paying their last respects to Baroness Betty Boothroyd, the only female Speaker of the House of Commons.

The funeral of Lady Boothroyd, who died last month aged 93, is taking place at a 12th century church in the Cambridgeshire village she called home in her later years.

Betty Boothroyd funeral
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives for Baroness Boothroyd’s funeral at St George’s Church in Thriplow, Cambridgeshire (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mr Sunak called her “remarkable” as he led the tributes, saying: “Parliament stands taller because of her service.”

He and Sir Keir arrived at St George’s Church in Thriplow just before the private service began at noon.

Current Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle appeared to remark on the chilly and drizzly weather as he exchanged a few words with the people greeting mourners outside, saying his “heart is still warm”.

Betty Boothroyd funeral
The Order of Service for Baroness Boothroyd’s funeral (Joe Giddens/PA)

Four pallbearers carried Lady Boothroyd’s coffin, adorned with a white floral tribute, into the stone church as organ and choir music played.

Attending the funeral means that Mr Sunak will be absent from Prime Minister’s Questions.

He said: “Today we come together from across the political spectrum to remember one of our greatest Speakers – the remarkable Betty Boothroyd.”

Lady Boothroyd, a former Labour MP, shattered more than 700 years of parliamentary tradition when she became the first woman to be elected Speaker in April 1992, staying on until October 2000.

Betty Boothroyd funeral
Former Labour MP Lady Boothroyd died last month at the age of 93 (Michael Stephens/PA)

She then entered the Lords as a crossbench peer in January 2001.

Born to mill worker parents in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in 1929, Lady Boothroyd was a professional dancer from 1946 to 1948 and appeared in pantomime in London’s West End before going into politics.

She unsuccessfully contested four parliamentary seats before being elected to West Bromwich (later to become West Bromwich West) in May 1973.