Despite protests that previous prime ministers had to be dead to have a statue in Britain's Houses of Parliament Margaret Thatcher (1979/1990) unveiled her bronze statue at a ceremony Wednesday.
The 2.24 meter statue has been set up facing World War II leader Sir Winston Churchill in the members' lobby of the House of Commons, Britain's lower house of parliament. She stands to the left of Labor Clement Attlee, the prime minister who following WW II built the British welfare state. A joyful Thatcher told onlookers, "I might have preferred iron, but bronze will do. It won't rust". "And, this time I hope, the head will stay on." The 81-year-old baroness was referring to a marble statue of her that was decapitated in 2002 by a vandal while on loan to Guildhall, the town hall for the City of London, the capital's financial district. Thatcher appeared to be cheerful and relaxed, wearing a gold-and-champagne-colored suit she had worn in 2001 for her 50th wedding anniversary to the late Sir Denis Thatcher. She said the Commons had done her a great honor by commissioning "this fine and imposing statue", which portrays her with her right arm outstretched, as though addressing parliament. "Above all, I could not ask better company for it, with David Lloyd George, Clement Attlee and Churchill, three great Prime Ministers, one of them our greatest ever" she said. During debate in parliament, House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin defended his decision to have the statue erected while the former Conservative premier is still alive, a first in British history. But left-winger Paul Flynn, a backbench member of the governing Labor Party like Martin, complained that this change to parliamentary tradition had been decided in a 'semi-secretive' way rather than by the whole house. "It was agreed that to unveil these statues of previous prime ministers, we shouldn't have to wait until 10 years after their demise," Martin said on Wednesday. The statue which cost £ 80.000 was sculpted by Antony Dufort. The Iron Lady was the first female British prime minister, serving from 1979 until she resigned during a revolt by her own Conservative party in 1990.
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