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Britain, world dignitaries bid farewell to Margaret Thatcher

world Updated: Apr 17, 2013 18:39 IST
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The funeral of Margaret Thatcher, Britain's only woman prime minister, was held on Wednesday and was attended by Queen Elizabeth II, two heads of state and 11 prime ministers from across the world.

Thatcher died April 8 at the age of 87, following a stroke.

Her funeral took place at St Paul's Cathedral in central London. Her coffin, covered by a union flag, was taken by gun carriage to the cathedral, reported BBC.

Over 2,000 people attended the funeral. London comes to a halt for Thatcher's funeral

A man holds up a banner before former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's ceremonial funeral procession in London. AP Photo

A protest was staged along the route of the funeral procession, but the crowds included thousands of well-wishers.

Bearers were personnel drawn from units and regiments involved in the Malvinas (Falklands) campaign, which was always recognised as one of the highlights of Thatcher's tenure, reported Xinhua.

About 4,000 police personnel were lined up along the route to ensure security. Flags on government buildings were lowered to half-mast, and the Big Ben on the Parliament Tower was set to be silenced for the funeral.

Prime Minister David Cameron said before the funeral that he "learnt a huge amount from watching" Thatcher at work, and today he felt "a great pride in all that she achieved, tinged with sadness". Thatcher opponents turn their back, boo at funeral procession

A protest banner is held up along the route of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's ceremonial funeral procession in London. AP Photo

Dubbed the "Iron Lady", Thatcher was the longest-serving prime minister of Britain during the last century, being in office for 11 years.

The Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990 had been keeping away from public appearances due to poor health. She suffered a stroke in 2002 and minor strokes thereafter.

Thatcher was admitted to hospital shortly before Christmas and underwent asurgery to remove a growth from her bladder. She returned home before the New Year, reported the British media.

Born Margaret Roberts in 1925, daughter of a grocer, Thatcher became the Conservative MP for Finchley in north London in 1959. After a long and eventful career, she quit the Commons in 1992.

Thatcher polarises opinion even in death

She successfully challenged former prime minister Edward Heath for her party's leadership in 1975. She won general elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987.

She presided over Britain's war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands in 1982.

Thatcher was credited with putting Britain back among the leading industrial nations of the world.

Thatcher was nicknamed the "Iron Lady" by a Russian journalist in 1976 for her opposition to Soviet communism. It is a moniker that stuck.

Her coming to power in 1979 signalled the end of an era when trade unions ruled the roost in Britain.

The coffin of British former prime minister Margaret Thatcher rests in the Crypt Chapel of St Mary Undercroft beneath the Houses of Parliament in central London on April 16, 2013, on the eve of her ceremonial funeral. As Thatcher requested when she planned her own funeral, her body will remain overnight in the chapel at the Palace of Westminster in central London, where she served for more than half a century in both the lower and upper houses. AFP PHOTO

She stripped the unions of many of their powers with the aim of transferring these to managements and individual consumers.

A leadership challenge forced her to leave No.10 Downing Street in 1990. Two years later she was made a life peer as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. Social media divided over legacy | She changed Britain, and divided it | When Margaret, Indira talked about grandkids

File photo: Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher arrives for a service of thanksgiving and re-dedication on Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey in London. Reuters

In recent years, she led a quiet life cared for by her housekeeper Kate. She suffered a minor stroke in 2002 that left her with short-term memory loss.

Her husband Denis died in 2003. Her children Mark and Carol both live abroad.