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Reverend Richard Whittington carries an oak casket with the ashes of the former leader, followed by Thatcher's son Mark and his wife Sarah John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Margaret Thatcher's ashes laid to rest in private London service

A plaque with the inscription “Margaret Thatcher 1925 – 2013″ was placed at the site where she was laid to rest in the grounds of a military nursing home.

THE ASHES OF late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher were laid to rest alongside the remains of her late husband Denis in London today, at a military nursing home she had long supported.

An oak casket containing the ashes of the “Iron Lady”, who died in April after suffering a stroke at the age of 87, was placed in the leafy grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea nursing home beside those of Denis, who died in 2003.

In power between 1979 and 1990, the former Conservative leader was Britain’s longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century and its only female prime minister to date.

A plaque bearing the simple inscription “Margaret Thatcher 1925 – 2013″ was placed over her final resting place.

Thatcher’s twin children Mark and Carol, 60, were among the small group of mourners who gathered for a private service at the nursing home’s chapel, along with Tim Bell, who masterminded her three successful general election campaigns, and Cynthia Crawford, her loyal personal assistant for more than three decades.

A dozen Chelsea Pensioners — army veterans who live at the historic retirement home in central London — formed a guard of honour, dressed in their distinctive scarlet coats.

Mark, his wife Sarah and Carol took it in turns to place a single red rose alongside the casket.

Thatcher was a long-standing supporter of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which in 2009 opened a state-of-the-art care home named in her honour, the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary.

Thatcher’s death on April 8 sparked heated debate over her legacy, with supporters arguing that her radical free-market reforms saved Britain from economic decline, but critics saying they left millions of people jobless and created a culture of greed.

She was cremated after her ceremonial funeral on April 17, which was attended by leaders from around the world.

© AFP, 2013

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