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Britain's former PM Thatcher breaks arm in fall

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was taken to hospital on Friday after breaking her arm in a fall at her London home, her spokesman said.

world Updated: Jun 12, 2009 19:38 IST

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was taken to hospital on Friday after breaking her arm in a fall at her London home, her spokesman said.

The Conservative politician, known as the "Iron Lady" during her 11 years in power, will be kept in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London overnight as a precaution.

"She had a fall this morning and has injured her arm and is in hospital," her private secretary Mark Worthington said. "Her spirits were quite good on the way to hospital, although she was in a bit of discomfort with the injury."

Thatcher, 83, Britain's first woman prime minister, has suffered intermittent health scares since she was forced from power by her own Conservative Party in 1990.

She suffered a series of mild strokes in late 2001 and 2002 and cancelled several engagements a few months later due to an undisclosed illness. On the advice of her doctors, she cancelled her public speaking schedule and cut back personal appearances.

One of her most recent public engagements was a meeting with Pope Benedict in Rome last month.

In March 2008, Thatcher was taken to hospital for tests after feeling unwell during a dinner at the House of Lords, Britain's upper house. She was also admitted to hospital in 2005 after a having dizzy spell at her hairdresser's.

During her time in office, Thatcher was known as a tough workaholic who needed little sleep. She swept to power in 1979 and went on to become Britain's longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century.

She was re-elected in 1983 on a wave of patriotism after she sent a naval task force to the South Atlantic to retake the remote Falkland Islands from an Argentine occupation force.
Her free-market policies of privatisation, deregulation and cuts to public spending polarised Britain.

A friend and close ally of the late US President Ronald Reagan, she once praised him for winning the Cold War "without firing a shot".