Thatcher too ill to attend 85th birthday party: Downing St

14th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher is too unwell to attend the 85th birthday party being thrown for her at 10 Downing Street on Thursday because of a bout of flu.

Prime Minister David Cameron was hosting a gathering of around 150 friends and former colleagues to mark Wednesday's milestone.

Dubbed the "Iron Lady", Thatcher was in 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's office and official residence, from 1979 to 1990.

"Lady Thatcher is unable to attend tonight's birthday party at Number 10 after being taken ill with flu at home earlier today," a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

"At Lady Thatcher's insistence, the gathering will take place as planned in her absence and the prime minister will attend.

"Guests who include previous members of her Cabinet, colleagues and friends will be invited to return to celebrate her 85th birthday at Number 10 once she has recovered."

Cameron received Thatcher at Number 10 in June, shortly after he ended their Conservative Party's 13 years in opposition.

Thatcher also visited Labour premiers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown at Number 10 soon after they took office in 1997 and 2007 respectively.

Cameron announced the birthday party in his speech to the Conservatives' annual conference in Birmingham, central England, last week.

He paid tribute to Thatcher, calling her "the greatest peace-time prime minister of the last century".

Doctors banned her from public speaking in 2002 following a series of small strokes which aides said left her sometimes confused and with a failing memory.

Her daughter Carol wrote in her 2008 memoir that on her worst days Thatcher struggled to finish sentences and would even forget that her loyal husband, businessman Denis, had died in 2003.

© 2010 AFP

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