Page last updated at 15:50 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Lady Thatcher at Downing Street for portrait reception


Baroness Thatcher arrives at her former home in Downing Street.

Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher returned to Downing Street on Monday for a ceremony to mark the unveiling of her official portrait.

Gordon Brown and wife Sarah welcomed Lady Thatcher, who was Conservative PM from 1979 to 1990, back to Number 10.

The portrait is by Richard Stone, who has previously painted the Queen, the Queen Mother and Labour Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

Funded by a private donor, it is to go on permanent display.

Baroness Thatcher with the portrait
Baroness Thatcher with the portrait in Number 10

Lady Thatcher was greeted by the prime minister and his wife as she arrived at Downing Street, where she paused for photographs.

But the 84-year-old former PM did not respond to journalists who asked: "Are you pleased to be back?"

Among guests seen arriving at the private reception were the former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, some former members of Baroness Thatcher's Cabinet like Lord Carrington and former advisers Sir Bernard Ingham and Lord Saatchi.

Conservative leader David Cameron was also understood to be attending although he was not seen entering by the front door.

Baroness Thatcher left after a 50-minute reception, stopping for a few words with Mr Brown and a wave to photographers before being driven off.

Although photographs of all modern prime ministers line the main staircase in Number 10, only two 20th century prime ministers have paintings on display: David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.

Lady Thatcher is believed to be the first living politician to be given the honour.

It is not the first time Gordon Brown has welcomed her back to Downing Street - a much publicised visit shortly after he became PM in 2007 annoyed some of his own backbenchers and union leaders.

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