As word of Margaret Thatcher's death spread on Monday, her successor several times removed, Prime Minister David Cameron, cut short a trip to Spain intended to address what had been among her greatest concerns -- British suspicions about deeper ties with Europe.
But Mrs. Thatcher's imprint on the politics and economics of her nation, Europe and the world extended well beyond her proud nationalism. The approach she imposed on a divided and reluctant Britain starting with her election as prime minister in 1979 continue to echo even at her death. It was built on a faith in market forces, a willingness to impose short-term austerity in the service of long-term prosperity and skepticism or even hostility to the fiscal and social costs of the welfare state cherished by much of Europe.
Along with President Ronald Reagan, with whom she helped define modern conservatism, Mrs. Thatcher developed a strain of capitalism that became dominant around the world with the fall of communism. But she also helped unleash market forces and unravel social compacts in ways that many societies have yet to come to grips with. Even on the day of her death, leaders and citizens from Cyprus to Portugal to Washington were enmeshed in emotional debates over the policies that defined her legacy. Those cross currents continue to play out in her own country, a laboratory even now for austerity policies.
Mrs. Thatcher, 87, as many of the eulogies pouring in to her said, transformed Britain, battling for a smaller role for the state in the economy, opening the way for sweeping privatization and deregulation, legitimizing wealth, and unleashing acquisitive, entrepreneurial passions among her compatriots that still seem to make continental Europeans uncomfortable.
She also passionately defended her view of Britain as a significant power in the world, with interests and influences of her own that were independent of the 27-nation European Union. Just as Mrs. Thatcher once famously declared ''No! No! No!'' in Parliament to a French-led push for closer European integration, and looked to Britain's ''special relationship'' with the United States as a way of leveraging Britain's own weight in international affairs, Mr. Cameron, publicly espousing her legacy, has trodden a broadly similar path.
He has balked at a European push for legally mandated restrictions bankers' bonuses and the imposition of stiffer taxes on financial trading, anathema to Mr. Cameron's Conservatives and to the financial industry that is centered in the City of London, and serves as the one of the principal founts of Britain's now-beleaguered prosperity.
More broadly, he has stood four-square against the French and German resolve to create a stronger federal Europe, with more intrusive powers to regulate national economies and bolster the Euro currency, and outlined a future in which Britain would fashion a future for itself that would revert to an earlier vision of Europe as a trading bloc, not a one-size-fits-all club in which national sovereignties would be subsumed.
As Mr. Cameron broke off his European journey to return to London on Monday to oversee preparations for Mrs. Thatcher's funeral, 10 Downing Street announced that the funeral, to take place next week, would include a service with full military honors, with the service itself at St. Paul's Cathedral. Officials gave no other details, beyond saying that the arrangements would be similar to those made after the death in a Paris car crash in 1997 of Diana, Princess of Wales, whose coffin was carried through crowds in London on a horse-drawn caisson with an honor guard of military outriders.
The last prime minister to be accorded similar honors was Winston Churchill in 1965, a similarity that spoke for Britain's sense of Mrs. Thatcher as a historical figure, and as many of her admirers said on Monday, as perhaps the country's greatest peacetime leader.
But the commemorations were accompanied, too, by more acerbic, even vitriolic, remembrances from those, particularly on the political left, who saw her as a destructive figure, who had ruptured the economic and social fabric of post-war Britain and left a country that was more divided, more selfish, and, for the have-nots, more resentful than at any time in its recent history.
Across the world, as in Europe, the response to Mrs. Thatcher's death appeared to oscillate between similar poles. Many foreign leaders and commentators spoke about her as President Barack Obama did, as ''one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and as an example to women that ''there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered.'' However, there were others, particularly on the political left, who spoke with bitterness of the political vogue that spread across the globe in the name of Thatcherism, and which saw the rollback of socialism and the dismantling of command economies in virtually every continent, in favor of an approach that saw the free market as a vehicle to generate wealth and spread prosperity in a way that socialist redistribution never could.
But, where that legacy had its strongest impact, in Europe, it has not brought Britain close to its continental cousins. Since Mrs. Thatcher's retirement from active politics in 1990, toppled by her own party elite, Britain has drifted further from Europe. It is not a member of key vehicles of integration -- the euro currency, the Schengen accord on free travel across the continent's internal frontiers. Indeed, bowing to the powerful euroskeptic currents in his own party, Mr. Cameron has promised a referendum on continued British membership in the E.U.
So if there was a symbol of the fruits of the Thatcher legacy on Monday it was that of a British prime minister abandoning an overture to Europe to return home to mourn at a shrine to euroskepticism whose influence still tugs at many ideological passions.
Many Britons remembered Mrs. Thatcher as a dominant, divisive and yet revered figure, whose impact on British life and society was enduring and contentious, and whose pervasive influence on political thinking about the role of the state in free societies spread far beyond Britain's shores. Mrs. Thatcher did not simply lead Britain, Mr. Cameron said as he returned home, ''she saved our country.''
''She was the patriot prime minister,'' Mr. Cameron, recalling her role in shaping Britain's relationship with the European Union. He said Parliament would be recalled on Wednesday for a special session in her honor.
News of her death emerged when her spokesman, Tim Bell, said in a statement: ''It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother, Baroness Thatcher, died peacefully following a stroke this morning.''
Mrs. Thatcher, who was Britain's first female prime minister, had been in poor health for months. She served as prime minister for 11 years, beginning in 1979. She was known as the Iron Lady, a stern Conservative who transformed Britain's way of thinking about its economic and political life, broke union power and opened the way to far greater private ownership.
Within moments of the announcement of Mrs. Thatcher's death, Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Cameron offered tributes to what Mr. Cameron called ''a great leader, a great prime minister, a great Briton.''
Mr. Cameron's office said that, in line with her family's wishes, Mrs. Thatcher would not be accorded a full state funeral but would nonetheless be buried with full military honors.
An assessment in the conservative Daily Telegraph said, ''She will go down in history not only as Britain's first female prime minister, but as the woman who transformed Britain's economy in addition to being a formidable rival on the international stage.''
''Lady Thatcher was the only British prime minister to leave behind a set of ideas about the role of the state which other leaders and nations strove to copy and apply,'' it said. Indeed, one of the most notable features of the political reaction came in the magnanimity and praise that characterized the comments of many of her old political foes.
Speaking to the BBC, Henry A. Kissinger, the former United States Secretary of State, said Mrs. Thatcher was a ''great leader'' and a ''good friend of the United States.'' She was known particularly for her close working relationship alliance with President Reagan, with whom she shared a profound ideological rejection of cold war communism.
But she also won the respect of some interlocutors in Moscow, notably Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, who described her on Monday as ''a politician whose word carried great weight.''
''Our first meeting in 1984 marked the beginning of a relationship that was at times difficult, not always smooth, but was treated seriously and responsibly by both sides,'' Mr. Gorbachev, 82, said, according to Reuters. ''We gradually developed personal relations that became increasingly friendly,'' he said. ''In the end, we were able to achieve mutual understanding, and this contributed to a change in the atmosphere between our country and the West and to the end of the Cold War.''
But even in death, the ideological divisiveness of her legacy in office was also evident in reactions to the news of her death. Paul Kenny, a labor union leader, said Mrs. Thatcher would be ''remembered by many for the destructive and divisive policies she reigned over.''world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.