UK's Thatcher sweeps back to 10 Downing Street

AP News
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Posted: Nov 23, 2009 1:19 PM

Former British leader Margaret Thatcher returned to London's Downing Street Monday as she unveiled her own portrait, which has been installed in the official residence of Britain's prime minister.

Thatcher, British leader from 1979 to 1990, joined current Prime Minster Gordon Brown and David Cameron, a successor to Thatcher as Conservative Party leader, at 10 Downing Street to unveil the new the work.

The 84-year-old former leader _ nicknamed "The Iron Lady" for her uncompromising stance against the Soviet Union _ was greeted by Brown and a clutch of former advisers as she arrived at her former home.

Brown spokesman Simon Lewis said the painting by Richard Stone _ who has also produced a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II _ is on display in a first floor lobby.

It was paid for by an anonymous donor. The office of advertising executive Maurice Saatchi, who attended the reception, could not immediately offer comment on suggestions he had donated the portrait.

Lewis said the unveiling ceremony was a historic occasion.

"The Prime Minister made a short speech in which he thanked Baroness Thatcher for the contribution she has made to the country over many years," Lewis said.

Thatcher was for a long time the nemesis of Brown's Labour Party, which was kept out of office by her Conservative Party for 18 years.

Lewis said Thatcher thanked Brown for his comments but did not make a speech.

Thatcher is the first living former lawmaker in the modern era to be honored with a painting at Downing Street.

Photographs of all modern prime ministers line the residence's main staircase, but only two former leaders have painted portraits on display: Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George.