Thatcher’s legacy in focus as UK plans funeral

A day after the death of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, preparations got under way for a funeral to rival those given to royalty — a farewell welcomed by some in Britain but questioned by others.

The news of her death, which prompted an outpouring of reaction from UK and world leaders, dominated British newspapers Tuesday.

Pages of tributes and analysis throw up a raft of descriptions: brave, great, fearless, pioneering — but also divisive, destructive and uncaring.

“The woman who saved Britain,” is the Daily Mail headline. “Now give her a state funeral,” it demands inside the covers, citing Conservative MPs who say she deserves the kind of honors in death usually reserved for a monarch.

Polarizing reactions to Thatcher death The life and legacy of the ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher’s lasting legacy

“The woman who divided a nation,” is how the Daily Mirror remembers her. It questions whether Thatcher merits the same “ceremonial” style of funeral as Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen Mother.

Opposition to Thatcher being accorded the same honors as might be given to the queen one day is being galvanized on Twitter through the hashtag #nostatefuneral. An online petition opposing a state funeral has also picked up more than 25,000 signatures.

Her funeral, with full military honors, will be held Wednesday, April 17, the prime minister’s office said Tuesday.

Queen Elizabeth II will be among the high-profile guests, Buckingham Palace said. Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will also be there.

A towering figure in postwar British and global politics, Thatcher is remembered in the world for her Cold War-era friendships with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as her role in shaping Britain’s place in Europe and the short, sharp war she waged with Argentina over the disputed Falkland Islands.

She earned the nickname the “Iron Lady” for her personal and political toughness during her 11 years as prime minister, from 1979 to 1990.

At home, where many blame her for creating soaring unemployment as she reduced or eliminated many government subsidies to business and took on the unions, her legacy is highly polarized.

Her battle with striking coal miners won her few friends in mining communities in northern England and Wales. But supporters believe the tough reforms she pushed through transformed the British economy and gave many working people new freedoms.

The debate over the style of her funeral reflects the decades of strong feeling she’s provoked in her homeland.

– CNN News

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