LONDON – Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is to be given a ceremonial funeral with military honors.
The service will be held in St. Paul’s Cathedral, an honor reserved for great figures of state. One of Thatcher’s predecessors as leader of the Conservative Party, Winston Churchill, was also given a funeral in the cathedral.
Thatcher died Monday at age 87 after several years of failing health. A statement issued by a close friend and former adviser said Britain’s first female leader, nicknamed the “Iron Lady,” died after a stroke.
The Union Jack over 10 Downing St., the official residence she occupied for nearly a dozen years, was lowered to half-staff. Prime Minister David Cameron credited Thatcher with rescuing Britain from years of economic decline through the free-market revolution that came to be known as Thatcherism.
“As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds. And the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country; she saved our country,” Cameron said. “And I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.”
Even those who detested her policies, which they felt exacerbated inequality and ignored society’s most vulnerable members, paid tribute to Thatcher’s formidable political skills and the single-mindedness with which she pursued her agenda as prime minister from 1979 to 1990.
“She was a unique political figure. She defined the politics of a whole generation," said Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labor Party.
"We disagreed with much of what she did...but we can disagree and also hugely respect her extraordinary achievements and her extraordinary personal strength," Miliband said.
[For the record, 9:00 a.m. April 8: A previous version of this post said that Margaret Thatcher would receive a state funeral. No plans for a state funeral have been announced.]
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