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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Thatcher's final visit to Reagan
Margaret Thatcher caresses Ronald Reagan's coffin
Lady Thatcher called Reagan "one of the greatest men of our time"
Baroness Thatcher has paid her last respects to former US president Ronald Reagan as his body lies in state in Washington.

She has pre-recorded a eulogy to Mr Reagan, whom she has described as "one of my closest...and dearest friends".

Lady Thatcher, 78, rested her hand on the flag-draped coffin when she visited the Capitol Rotunda ahead of a national funeral service on Friday.

Reagan died on Saturday at 93, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Friday's funeral ceremony will be attended by the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Baroness Thatcher will join President George Bush in eulogising Mr Reagan.

Lady Thatcher recorded the seven-minute tribute to Mr Reagan last February.

Doctors advised her in 2002 not to make public speeches because of concerns about her health.

1900 Wed - Casket placed in rotunda
2030 Wed - Lying in state begins and runs through the night
Thursday - Lying in state continues all day and night
0700 Friday - Public viewing ends
1030 Friday - Departure from Capitol
1130 Friday - Funeral service at National Cathedral
1345 Friday - Motorcade leaves cathedral for Andrews
1425 Friday - Departure from Andrews
2115 Friday - Private interment in Simi Valley
All times US Eastern Daylight-Saving Time, four hours behind GMT

The body of former US President Ronald Reagan arrived at the US Capitol on Wednesday, where it will lie in state ahead of Friday's full state funeral.

Tens of thousands are expected to pay homage to the former leader as he lies in the Capitol's rotunda.

Security surrounding the ceremony was extremely tight, with all air space over the area closed.

The body was flown to the capital on presidential plane Air Force One from Reagan's Simi Valley library in California.

Organisers there had had to extend viewing hours because of the huge response. An estimated 100,000 people passed by the coffin, but many members of the public were left disappointed, unable to get inside before the cut-off time.

The BBC's David Willis in California says there has been an overwhelming public response, with many people who never voted for Reagan in life, turning out to support him in death.

After the funeral service, Reagan's body will be taken back for the private burial in California at sunset on Friday.

The BBC's Daniel Lak
"Tens of thousands braved the sticky heat to watch the pomp and ceremony"

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