Amber Rudd took on six other politicians just days after her father died
Tony Rudd, a stockbroker and financial journalist, died at the age of 93 over the weekend, it has been revealed.
However his daughter, one of four children, insisted she would not suspend campaigning and went ahead to represent the Tory party in the BBC seven-way election debate.
It is not known whether Theresa May knew about Mr Rudd's death.
As Ms Rudd arrived at the debate in Cambridge, anti-Tory protesters booed and jeered at her but she took it in her stride and waved at the crowd.
She faced Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, SNP leader in Westminster Angus Robertson, Ukip leader Paul Nuttall, Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru leader, and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas.
Ms Rudd was heckled by Jeremy Corbyn over her role in security and by the other five politicians over why Mrs May was not there.
Mr Farron also made a very personal appeal about the NHS as he spoke about the care his mother received before she died 10 years ago.
Ms Rudd's father's death came just five months after her ex-husband, journalist AA Gill, died.
But the Home Secretary took criticism about her party and Mrs May not being there in her stride during the 90-minute debate.
The TV election debate – in pictures Wed, May 31, 2017
The televised debate saw Jeremy Corbyn, Amber Rudd, Paul Nuttall, Caroline Lucas, Angus Robertson, Tim Farron and Leanne Wood go toe-to-toe
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The politicians taking part in the debate
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She told the panel: "Theresa May may not be here but I hope to make a good fist of setting out Tory policy."
Not one to stand down, Ms Rudd laid into Mr Corbyn for promising to spend money she said the country does not have.
The Home Secretary fumed at Mr Corybn after he criticised the Conservatives for not raising living standards during their time in power.
Ms Rudd was heckled as she arrived at the venue in Cambridge
Ms Rudd snapped back at the Labour leader in the live BBC debate insisting Mr Corbyn would not be able to provide his manifesto promises.
The Home Secretary said: "We are a party who will always support those in most need and the welfare bill for helping people with disabilities has gone up £7billion in the past seven years and is now at £50bn.
"We will always provide that safety net when it is needed."
Ms Rudd was questioned heavily by all the politicians, apart from Mr Corbyn, about Mrs May
Theresa May has chosen to engage with the public rather than spar with politicians
She claimed his promises in the Labour manifesto would need a "magic money tree".
After taking much flack during the debate and this morning for Mrs May not attending, Ms Rudd was defended by foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson said her performance was "heroic".
He said: "I thought Amber did an absolutely heroic job of trying to injection some common sense.
"On the key points with Jeremy Corbyn she landed some powerful blows, and she made it absolutely clear that he has no plan to deal with immigration.
"Immigration, as she pointed out, would go up under Jeremy Corbyn; secondly, she said he was addicted to a magic money tree."
Mrs May was not the only party leader who skipped the debate, with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon being represented by Angus Robertson.
An SNP spokesman said she was not there because she is the First Minister of Scotland and had to be at First Minister's Questions on Wednesday, which he said she would not be able to get to in time if she had taken part.