Britain mourns former prime minister, ceremonial funeral planned

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Associated Press

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 8 at 2:04 PM

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth has authorized a ceremonial funeral -- that's one step short of a state funeral -- for Margaret Thatcher.

The former British prime minister -- the only woman ever to hold that job -- died today at the age of 87. Flags are at half staff at Buckingham Palace, Parliament and Downing Street.

Admirers saw Thatcher as a savior who rescued Britain from ruin and laid the groundwork for an economic resurgence. Critics say she ushered in an era of greed that kicked the weak into the streets and allowed the rich to become filthy rich. Like her close friend and political ally Ronald Reagan, she seemed motivated by an unshakable belief that free markets would build a stronger country than reliance on a strong, central government.

She's also remembered for standing beside the United States as the West won the Cold War over the Soviet Union.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is remembering Thatcher as someone who "didn't just lead" her country -- but "saved" it. He says she'll be remembered as "the greatest British peacetime prime minister."

President Barack Obama says she was both a great champion of freedom and an example to women everywhere.

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240-a-15-(Ned Donovan, 19-year-old British student, in AP interview)-"be proud of"-19-year-old student Ned Donovan says he's left flowers outside Margaret Thatcher's residence to commemorate her tenure as prime minister. (8 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *240 (04/08/13)>> 00:15 "be proud of"

263-a-08-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"the United States"-White House spokesman Jay Carney says President Obama is mourning Margaret Thatcher's passing. (8 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *263 (04/08/13)>> 00:08 "the United States"

GRAPHICSBANK: Ronald Reagan, as US President with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (r-l), White House, Washington, DC, partial graphic (8 Apr 2013)

GRAPHICSBANK: MARGARET THATCHER headshot, as British Prime Minister, on flag texture with 1925-2013 lettering, finished graphic (8 Apr 2013)

APPHOTO LON824: Flowers placed by well-wishers surround a portrait of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher outside her home in Belgravia, London. Margaret Thatcher, the combative "Iron Lady" who infuriated European allies, found a fellow believer in Ronald Reagan and transformed her country by a ruthless dedication to free markets in 11 bruising years as prime minister, died Monday, April 8, 2013. She was 87 years old. (AP Photo/PA, Lewis Whyld) UNITED KINGDOM OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE (8 Apr 2013)

<<APPHOTO LON824 (04/08/13)>>

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