Image: A statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan is unveiled in the grounds of the American Embassy in London
Matthew Lloyd  /  Getty Images
A statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan is unveiled in the grounds of the American Embassy in London.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/4/2011 6:52:47 AM ET 2011-07-04T10:52:47

An $800,000 statue honoring former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was unveiled in front of the American embassy in London on Monday.

Condoleezza Rice, who served in former President George W. Bush's administration, attended Monday's ceremony along with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"Statues bring us to face to face with our heroes long after they are gone," said Hague in his remarks at the ceremony.

"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," he added.

Video: Thatcher: "Nothing more American" (on this page)

Hague took the opportunity to highlight the importance of the British-American alliance, saying that Reagan "understood then as we do now that 'the strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States,' and that America has no stronger ally than Britain in standing up for peace and security in the world."

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan's close ally, was invited but was unable to attend due to her frail health. The ceremony was part of a European tour celebrating Reagan's 100th birthday.

One for the Gipper: Brits to honor Ronald Reagan

The statue was commissioned by the Reagan Memorial Fund Trust and cost about $800,000.

The funds for the sculpture were raised from private donors, with around 40 percent coming from people in the U.K., Reagan Foundation executive director John Heubusch told msnbc.com.

The monument joins statues of former presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower in the capital's Grosvenor Square and will remain in place after the relocation of the U.S. embassy in 2017.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Thatcher: "Nothing more American"

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