Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher dies aged 87 after stroke

Update 080413 1240z:

Baroness Thatcher, Britain’s Iron Lady, has died after suffering a stroke at the age of 87.

SKY NEWS 1:15pm UK, Monday 08 April 2013

Britain’s first and only female prime minister Margaret Thatcher has died peacefully following a stroke at the age of 87.

Her children Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother had died peacefully following a stroke this morning.

Speaking to Sky News, spokesman and friend Lord Bell, who announced her death, said: “Well never see the like of her again. She was one of the great prime ministers of all time and transformed people’s lives.”

He described the former prime minister, a grocer’s daughter from Grantham, as the greatest leader of the Conservative Party with the exception of Winston Churchill.

He said: “She was just a fantastic person extraordinary charisma, very focused, loved her country, loved being in government and dedicated her life to making peoples lives better I think history will remember her very kindly.”

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute saying: “It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.”

Mr Cameron, who was meeting EU leaders in Spain, will return home early and is expected to arrive back in the country this afternoon.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen was sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher. Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family.”

Prime Joke
With US president Ronald Reagan

Downing Street announced that she would receive a full ceremonial funeral with honours at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Baroness Thatcher, Britain’s first and only woman prime minister, had become increasingly frail and was suffering ill health in recent years.

She was admitted to hospital shortly before Christmas where she underwent an operation to remove a growth from her bladder but was allowed to return home before new year.

Prime minister between 1979 and 1990, she has been credited with transforming a nation in one decade, putting Britain back among the leading industrial nations of the world.

She became loved and loathed in equal measure as she crushed the unions and privatised vast swathes of British industry, as she led the Tories to three election victories.

Tough beyond measure, she was nicknamed the Iron Lady by a Russian journalist in 1976 for her opposition to Soviet communism. It is a moniker that stuck and was the title of a film in which Meryl Streep took the title role, which was released in 2011.

She was also memorably described by the then French president Francois Mitterrand with the back-handed compliment that she had the “eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe”.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: “Margaret Thatcher was one of the defining figures in modern British politics.

“Whatever side of the political debate you stand on, no-one can deny that as prime minister she left a unique and lasting imprint on the country she served.

“She may have divided opinion during her time in politics but everyone will be united today in acknowledging the strength of her personality and the radicalism of her politics.”

Despite her toughness, few will forget the pictures of Baroness Thatcher leaving Downing Street for the last time with her husband, Sir Denis, and tears in her eyes.

The funeral will be a ceremonial funeral with full military honours, but not a state funeral.” – Sky News


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