LONDON — They weren’t even born when she left office, but they still felt compelled Tuesday to lay a bouquet in remembrance of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“She was very inspirational. She did a lot of good for this country, and she was the first woman prime minister,” said Stephanie Teed, 21, a university student from the town of Maidenhead, west of London.
“I know she had a lot of criticism, but I think she left a great legacy and did a lot of good for Britain,” added her friend Matthew Chapman, 17.
The pair left a bunch of roses outside Thatcher’s home in central London along with a note saying that “you put the ‘great’ into ‘Great Britain’ ” and pledging to “remember you as the greatest leader this country has ever had,” even though neither was alive during Thatcher’s reign as prime minister from 1979 to 1990. Britain’s first and so far only female premier died Monday at the age of 87.
But not all those who gathered around Britain to mark her passing did so with sadness or in peace. Critics of Thatcher blame her free-market revolution for tearing Britain’s social fabric and favoring the haves over the have-nots.
The Avon and Somerset Constabulary in western England said Tuesday that some officers were injured when about 200 people who had gathered in a neighborhood of Bristol to celebrate Thatcher’s death refused to break up their street party Monday night.
“Bottles and cans were thrown at officers, six of whom suffered injuries. One remains in hospital,” said Chief Inspector Mark Jackson.
Some trash cans were set ablaze and a police car was damaged, Jackson said. Officers arrested one person.
In the south London neighborhood of Brixton, the scene of rage-filled race riots in 1981, police were called in Monday night to maintain order among the dozens of people rejoicing in Thatcher’s death. Some had climbed up the facade of a movie theater and rearranged the letters on the marquee to read “Margaret Thatchers (sic) dead LOL.”
Nothing untoward was reported around Thatcher’s home in Belgravia, one of London’s most expensive districts, where supporters stopped by at various points to lay flowers. One card praised Thatcher as “a leader of tremendous competence, conviction and courage.”
Ann Edwards, who worked in the House of Commons during Thatcher’s tenure as prime minister, called her “a superb woman.”
“We could do with more people like her now. She was very brave,” said Edwards, recalling the Irish Republican Army’s declared goal to assassinate her. “She never wavered.”