Thatcher: Greatest British peacetime PM

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Former British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female to lead the country, has passed away "peacefully" at the age of 87, after suffering a stroke whilst staying at the Ritz Hotel in central London.

In this June 23, 1982 file ., Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gestures with her pen as she answers a reporters question during a news conference at the United Nations. Ex-spokesman Tim Bell says that Thatcher has died. She was 87. Bell said the woman known to friends and foes as "the Iron Lady" passed away Monday morning, April 8, 2013. [Gerald Penny/Imagine China] 

Although known as a controversial politician, it is said Thatcher will go down in history as the greatest Prime Minister during Britain in peacetime.

As the longest serving British prime minister of the 20th century, Lady Thatcher is believed to have transformed Britain during her three terms in power between 1979 and 1990.

"She'd done good things. She did terrible things."

"I remember Thatcher when she introduced the right to buy council property. So it gave a lot of people a foot on the housing ladder. And the Falkland War. That's the merry thing about Thatcher I remember."

But Thatcher's free market policies and privatization of state industry also divided the country.

Jasper Pilgrim was a teenager when riots broke out in 1981 against a background of heavy handed policing and an 80-percent increase in unemployment among black people.

"She made a lot of people homeless. She made a lot of people unemployed. She's got a lot of things that's wrong there."

But Thatcher made no concession when asked to make a U-turn in her economic policies.

"You turn if you want. The lady's not for turning."

82-year-old M. Nathan remembers how all these policies and her tough stance against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War made Thatcher the so-called "Iron Lady".

"She was so stubborn. Typical woman, always right."

But Thatcher's close friend and spokesman, Tim Bell, gave different perspective when interviewed by the BBC.

"She's a most extraordinary woman. Great privilege to work for her and even greater privilege to live in a country that she ran because she ran it very well."

British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his European trip to make tribute to the Iron Lady.

"Today is a truly sad day for our country. We've lost a great prime minister, a great leader, a great Briton. 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 save our country. And I believe she'll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister."

She will not have a state funeral, but will receive the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

The ceremonial funeral with military honors will be held in around ten days time at St Paul's cathedral.

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