UK

Margaret Thatcher's red prime ministerial box sells for £242,500

Margaret Thatcher's red prime ministerial dispatch box Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The auction's estimate for the dispatch box was just £3-5,000

Margaret Thatcher's red prime ministerial dispatch box has sold at auction in London for £242,500.

The blue velvet wedding dress she wore in 1951 sold for £25,000.

They are among 150 items belonging to the late PM being auctioned at Christie's, with bids from as far away as the US, Australia and South Korea.

Handbags, speech notes, gifts from world leaders and the raincoat she famously wore to drive a tank in 1986 are also being sold.

Baroness Thatcher died on 8 April 2013 at the age of 87. Britain's only female prime minister, she held office from 1979 to 1990.

The Iron Lady: A political life

Embossed with the Royal cypher and the title "Prime Minister", the dispatch box was delivered to the then Mrs Thatcher on a daily basis, containing cabinet, foreign and Commonwealth documents for her attention.

It vastly exceeded its estimate of £3,000-5,000, attracting a round of applause in the auction room when it finally sold.

A signed typescript of her famous speech reciting the words of St Francis of Assisi, "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony," sold for £37,500.

She gave that address outside Number 10 shortly after becoming prime minister.

Baroness Thatcher's collection of writings from Winston Churchill sold for £32,500 - 10 times its estimate - while her editions of Churchill's biography of Marlborough sold for £18,750.

Image caption Margaret Thatcher's blue velvet wedding dress with matching hat and muff sold for £25,000
Image copyright AP
Image caption Mrs Thatcher drove a Challenger tank when she visited British forces training in Germany

Also sold at the auction was a Kaiser bisque model of an American bald eagle, which was gifted to the former prime minister from former US president Ronald Reagan.

It was bought for £266,500 - much more than its estimate of £8,000.

The award was presented in 1984 by US ambassador to the UK Walter H Annenberg, whose wife Leonore has been credited with introducing Mrs Thatcher to Mr Reagan and initiating their relationship.

Other items that went under the hammer included personal letters from Mr Reagan to Mrs Thatcher, such as one to congratulate her on 11 years in power which sold for £25,000, and one wishing a belated birthday to her husband Sir Denis, which was purchased for £32,500.

Her wedding dress and matching muff also far exceeded its estimate, which was set at £10-15,000.

She wore them to marry Denis Thatcher on 13 December 1951 at Wesley's Chapel in London.

An online auction of another 200 items belonging to Baroness Thatcher closes on Wednesday.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, a 1937 letter from Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong to then-Labour Party leader Clement Attlee sold at auction for £605,000.

More on this story