Ronald Reagan statue unveiled in London

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The Independent Online

A statue of former US president Ronald Reagan has been unveiled to mark 100 years since his birth.

Foreign Secretary William Hague paid tribute to Mr Reagan at the ceremony at the US Embassy in London this morning.

He said: "It is a great honour for me personally to take part in a ceremony for a man who changed the political landscape at the time I first became involved in it."

He was joined by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice as the 10-foot bronze figure was revealed.

Ms Rice represented the late president's widow Nancy Reagan at the ceremony, which coincided with the US Independence Day celebrations.

Mr Hague said: "He joins the ranks of great men and women whose statues adorn our London streets; Nelson, Wellington, Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt, Edith Cavell and Nelson Mandela.

"Statues bring us to face to face with our heroes long after they are gone.

"Ronald Reagan is without question a great American hero; one of America's finest sons, and a giant of 20th-century history. You may be sure that the people of London will take this statue to their hearts.

"Those who stop and look will be reminded of President Reagan's extraordinary achievements, and all that he stood for as a man and a leader of men and women."

He added that Mr Reagan's great political ally, former prime minister Baroness Thatcher, could not attend the ceremony.

Mr Hague said: "She has asked me to say these words to you: Ronald Reagan was a great president and a great man - a true leader for our times. He held clear principles and acted upon them with purpose.

"Through his strength and his conviction he brought millions of people to freedom as the Iron Curtain finally came down.

"It was a pleasure to be his colleague and his friend, and I hope that this statue will be a reminder to future generations of the debt we owe him."

The statue of Mr Reagan was commissioned as part of a year of celebrations to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of the former US president.

It will stand alongside existing statues of other illustrious American presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin D Roosevelt.

Although the embassy is moving from its central London home next year, the statues will remain at their current Grosvenor Square location.

The statue was commissioned by the Reagan Memorial Fund Trust.

Mr Reagan died in 2004 at the age of 93, having served as US president between 1981 and 1989.

To acknowledge Mr Reagan's contribution to the end of the Cold War, a piece of the Berlin Wall will be installed in front of the statue.

Lady Thatcher once said he had "a higher claim than any other leader to have won the Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired".