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Breaking custom, queen plans to attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral

Margaret Thatcher - 80th Birthday Party

Margaret Thatcher - 80th Birthday Party

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Updated: May 13, 2013 6:03AM



Apparently there is a bit of consternation inside royal circles in London about Queen Elizabeth II’s decision to attend the funeral Wednesday of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, a divisive figure in the country’s contemporary political history.

It will be the first funeral of a prime minister the queen has attended since the services held for Winston Churchill — her first PM — back in 1965. She’ll be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip.

A good Buckingham Palace insider told this column the decision was surprising, “especially since the relationship between Baroness Thatcher and Her Majesty was often considered a bit strained during long stretches of the time she served as prime minister.”

The queen was persuaded, my source said, by the important role Thatcher played in the country’s history, including being both the first woman to hold the position and the longest-serving British prime minister in the 20th century.

RUMOR CONTROL: As appealing as it would be to have a new celebrity coupling dubbed “DiddyUp,” sadly it’s not to be, at least not at this point. After rumors of an alleged sexy link-up between Sean “Diddy” Combs and supermodel Kate Upton started flying around the internet, both Combs and Upton took steps to shoot down the stories — post haste.

Not only has Upton never been to either the Miami club or New York restaurant where she supposed was spotted getting amorous with Combs, her publicist insisted, “She was on vacation with her family. She and Diddy don’t know each other at all. They met in passing a year ago.”

As for Combs, he turned to Twitter: “Attention all Media. I don’t even know Kate Upton personally! I’m not dating her! What’s being reported is not true. END of story!”

TALK ABOUT SAFE! Without question, Justin Timberlake was a huge hit at the White House —performing with all those music legends for the “In Performance: Memphis Soul” show airing Tuesday on WTTW-Channel 11. J.T. also was likely the best protected artist at the party. Remember this was held at the White House, likely the safest spot in the world. But beyond the phalanx of Secret Service agents and other guards, showbiz411.com reports Timberlake not only had three bodyguards watching out for him but also was the musician allowed the most guests at the fete, including his wife, Jessica Biel; his mother; his stepfather, and his publicist.

FACING FACTS? Gwyneth Paltrow has a lot to say about her marriage, fame, diet and negativity in a cover story in the new Harper’s Bazaar. But it was most intriguing to read the Oscar winner’s insistence she will never again take Botox treatments to battle wrinkling.

“I’ll try anything. Except I won’t do Botox again, because I looked crazy. I looked like Joan Rivers!”

As of Thursday night, Ms. Rivers hadn’t responded to Paltrow’s comment, but you know it will likely be a very funny zinger when it does come.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Hailee Steinfeld not only held her own with major stars (Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Barry Pepper) as a 13-year-old in “True Grit,” she also snared an Oscar nomination for that 2010 film. Now the young actress is jumping on board another Western frontier saga in “The Homesman,” starring opposite Tommy Lee Jones, who will direct, produce, co-write and act in the movie.According to

deadline.com, Steinfeld will team up with another group of seasoned performers — to say the least! Those include Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, James Spader, John Lithgow and Tim Blake Nelson.

CASTING SLAMMED: Director Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” — based on the life of longtime White House chief usher (butler) Eugene Allen in service to some seven presidents — won’t be out until October, but it’s already catching flak for the stars cast in the film.Navy veteran

Larry Reyes has launched the “Boycott Hanoi Jane Playing Nancy Reagan” Facebook page, claiming, “The moviemakers are free to choose, but it seems like [the casting of Jane Fonda ] was their way of giving people like me the middle finger.”

Fonda couldn’t care less and told the Hollywood Reporter that Reyes and his supporters should “get a life,” adding she thinks the “hoopla” will simply “cause more people to see the movie.”

In fact, all of the Republican presidents in the film are played by well-established Hollywood liberals, including Chicago’s own John Cusack (as Richard Nixon), Robin Williams (Dwight Eisenhower) and Alan Rickman (Ronald Reagan).

An added concern of conservatives: The script was penned by Danny Strong, who also wrote HBO’s “Game Change,” which some thought was unfair to Sarah Palin.

JUST DINNER? A few Hollywood gossipmongers have been trying to goose rumors of a romance between Academy Awards host and “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane and Oscar winner Charlize Theron.

It started when the two were seen looking cozy at post-Oscar parties. Then the paparazzi caught the two exiting a popular Hollywood restaurant the other night, stifling giggles. I’ve learned the reason for the hilarity was due to the duo immediately realizing their dinner date would further fuel the romance tales.

In fact, a very solid Theron insider tells me the actress and MacFarlane are “really just great, good friends,” who also happen to be working together on “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” the film MacFarlane both is directing and starring in with Theron.

SEEN ON THE SCENE: Bravo honcho Andy Cohen, whose network airs “Top Chef,” made a point of stopping for dinner at former “Top Chef” Favio Viviani’s new Siena Tavern Italian eatery after his Chicago book signing Wednesday. … The Cubs’ new starting pitcher, Carlos Villanueva, dined Wednesday at Harry Caray’s on Kinzie.



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