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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 January 2008, 22:50 GMT
When David met Margaret
By Adam Fleming
BBC political reporter

Baroness Thatcher and David Cameron
Lady Thatcher's gold outfit attracted admiring glances

The Conservative former prime minister Baroness Thatcher courted controversy last year when she visited Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Number 10.

But on Thursday night she was on the arm of the Conservative Party leader David Cameron.

He escorted her into a reception at London's Guildhall where he presented her with a lifetime achievement award from the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

The night celebrated "Great Britons" and the audience was studded with figures from the worlds of finance, art and music.

The singer Annie Lennox rubbed shoulders with the Olympic medallist James Cracknell. The founder of the Eden Project Tim Smit sipped champagne next to comedian Rob Brydon.

But everyone was outshone by the Iron Lady, resplendent in a gold suit. Fashion journalist Hilary Alexander said: "She looks fantastic. She looks like Britannia."

'Such wattage'

David Cameron seemed as star-struck as everyone else. He helped Baroness Thatcher to their table and then lavished her with praise as he presented her with the award.

He was a tongue-tied junior researcher and she was prime minister when they first met in the 1980s, he recalled.

He called Baroness Thatcher "a towering figure."

He said: "One of the reasons you deserve this award so much is your enormous courage - courage in sticking to your convictions and always believing they should be followed through."

Baroness Thatcher departed from prepared remarks and made a faltering acceptance speech that would not have been out of place at Conservative pre-election rally.

She said: "I was looking forward to a nice quiet evening tonight and I still am. In future, please warn me."

She then urged David Cameron to win "a proper majority".

As the audience dined on a meal of sautéed mushrooms, lamb and roasted butternut squash, one guest said that Baroness Thatcher had "such wattage that she outshone everyone else on the room."

The only guest who matched the impact of Baroness Thatcher was the artist Grayson Perry, who attended in a leather dress and a blonde wig that was clearly influenced by her.

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