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LONDON — Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on Monday died after suffering from stroke in London, officials said Monday. She was 87.
Thatcher, born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom in 1925, died at the Ritz Hotel in London shortly before 1 p.m. local time after suffering from poor health for a number of years. he death was confirmed by Lord Timothy Bell, Thatcher's spokesman.
The 'Iron Lady,' as she was also known thanks to a Soviet journalist, was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century, serving from 1979 to 1990, and she is the only woman to have held the post.
After her re-election in 1987, when she began her third term, she began losing popularity until her resignation in 1990.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thatcher 'led' an 'saved the country. "Margaret Thatcher didn't just lead our country; she saved our country. And we should never forget that the odds were stacked against her. She was the shopkeeper's daughter from Grantham who made it all the way to the highest office in the land."
"For many of us, she was an inspiration," Cameron continued. "For others, she was a force to be defined against. But if there is one thing that cuts through all of this, one thing that runs through everything that she did, it was her lionhearted love of this country. She was the patriot Prime Minister, and she fought for Britain’s interests every step of the way."
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his deepest condolences to Thatcher's family and country following the news, describing her as a 'pioneering leader.'
"We will miss her great leadership," said Ban. "She was a pioneering leader for her contribution to peace and security, particularly at the height of the Cold War," the Secretary-General added during a press conference at The Hague.
"She was also a great model as the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who not only demonstrated her leadership but has given such great hope for many women for equality, gender equality in Parliament," Ban continued.
"We will owe a great deal to her leadership," which "will inspire many people around the world for peace and security and human rights."
United States President Barack Obama, meanwhile, called her "one of the great champions of freedom and liberty," sending condolences to the Thatcher family and all the British people.
"With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend," Obama said in a statement, also describing her as "an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered," as she was the first female Prime Minister in the UK.
"As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best. And as an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom's promise," Obama said.
Thatcher's funeral es scheduled to take place at the St. Paul's Cathedral, with full military honors, followed by a private cremation, according to the British prime minister's office.
Photo Credit ( wikipedia) : US President George H. W. Bush awards Thatcher the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1991