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Ian McKellen thought Margaret Thatcher's knighthood gift was a joke

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Apr 16, 2013 | 5:29am EDT

Sir Ian Mckellen was convinced he was the victim of a practical joke when he found out former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had organised his knighthood just days before she left office. The X-Men star received the title from Queen Elizabeth II in 1991 and he has now revealed Thatcher, who died last week (08Apr13), put him forward for the accolade shortly before she resigned as Britain's leader in 1990. McKellen admits he was never a supporter of Thatcher or her policies, and was shocked to find out she had been instrumental in landing him an honour from the Queen. McKellen was told about the knighthood on the day Thatcher left office, and he was convinced the phone call from officials at Downing Street was a practical joke. In a post on his blog, he writes, "I was having breakfast alone in bed, watching the television relay from London, where the cameras were fixed on the front door of Number 10 (Downing Street), waiting for Mrs Thatcher's final exit as Prime Minister... "Now the phone rang: 'This is 10 Downing Street'. I thought it was a colleague having a joke but no: 'The Prime Minister has been trying to reach you. She has it in mind... to recommend that the Queen give you a knighthood.' "Flummoxed, I asked for time to think it over. Then, just as I put down the phone, the big black shiny door opened and the Thatchers emerged, she crying a little. It was as if she had kept the world waiting until she knew for sure that I'd been contacted. Of course not. But nevertheless, I suppose the very last thing Thatcher did as prime minster was to organise my knighthood." McKellen concludes by adding a reference to Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead, the Wizard of Oz song which has been adopted by anti-Thatcher campaigners since her death, but ends with a note of thanks. He adds, "Ding dong, maybe, but thanks all the same." Thatcher, who died at the age of 87 following a stroke, will be remembered in a ceremonial funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on Wednesday (17Apr13). The service, which will be preceded by a procession through the streets, is expected to be attended by royalty and politicians from around the world.

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