Margaret Thatcher tributes today in Britain

LONDON (CNN) -- Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to lead tributes from lawmakers Wednesday to Margaret Thatcher, Britain's only female prime minister.

The lawmakers have been called back early from recess for the special parliamentary session.

Thatcher, who died Monday at age 87 from a stroke, led the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990 and was prime minister for 11 years.

Opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband will also pay tribute to her at the special session, as will Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

While many lawmakers are expected to speak favorably of her achievements, some may be more critical in their assessments.

Thatcher was a highly polarizing leader, whose influence on British politics is still felt more than 20 years after she left office.

She earned the nickname the "Iron Lady" for her personal and political toughness in office.

The session in the House of Commons is expected to last several hours.

The House of Lords, where Thatcher served after she was ennobled to Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven following her departure from office, will hold a debate in her honor.

The last time both houses of parliament were recalled was during a recess in summer 2011, when London and other cities were rocked by riots and looting.

Divided opinion

A towering figure in postwar British and global politics, Thatcher is remembered in the world for her Cold War-era friendships with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as her role in shaping Britain's place in Europe and the short, sharp war she waged with Argentina over the disputed Falkland Islands.

At home, she divides opinion. Many Britons blame her for creating soaring unemployment, when she reduced or eliminated many government subsidies to business and took on the unions.

Her battle with striking coal miners won her few friends in mining communities in northern England and Wales. But supporters believe the tough reforms she pushed through transformed the British economy and gave many working people new freedoms.

Preparations are already underway for a funeral to be held next Wednesday at St. Paul's Cathedral. With full military honors, it will rival those given to Diana, Princess of Wales and the Queen Mother.

Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by husband Prince Philip, will be among the high-profile guests.

However, Prince William and his wife, Catherine, who's expecting their first child, will not attend the funeral, nor will Prince Harry, Prince Charles or his wife, Camilla, Buckingham Palace said.

The announcement that Thatcher would receive a "ceremonial" style funeral, one step down from the state funeral usually reserved for the monarch, has prompted heated debate in the United Kingdom.

While some supporters want her to be given a state funeral, others have questioned whether she merits a send-off on par with that of Diana's.

The service, which will be televised, will be followed by a private cremation, Cameron's office said Tuesday.

Crowds are expected to line the streets between the Palace of Westminster -- where her coffin will lie on the eve of the funeral -- and St. Paul's Cathedral.

On the day of the funeral, the coffin will travel by hearse from Westminster to a Royal Air Force chapel, where it will be transferred to a gun carriage drawn by the King's Troop Royal Artillery.

From there, it will be taken in procession to St. Paul's Cathedral along a route lined by servicemen and women from the army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

Thatcher's family and friends will wait inside the cathedral with many who worked with her in government and elsewhere.

The funeral is being organized in line with the wishes of her family, Downing Street said. They include her twin children, Mark and Carol.

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