US First Lady Michelle Obama to attend funeral for former first lady Nancy Reagan

US First Lady Michelle Obama waving before US President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address in Washington, DC, on Jan 12.
US First Lady Michelle Obama waving before US President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address in Washington, DC, on Jan 12. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the funeral on Friday (March 11) of former first lady Nancy Reagan, who will be buried next to her husband, former president Ronald Reagan, at his presidential library in California, officials said on Monday (March 7).

Mrs Reagan will lie in repose at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday and Thursday. A private funeral is planned for Friday, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation said.

"First lady Michelle Obama will be attending Mrs Reagan's funeral," a White House official said on Monday.

Mrs Reagan, the former actress who was fiercely protective of her husband through a Hollywood career, eight years in the White House, an assassination attempt and his Alzheimer's disease, died on Sunday at age 94.

The cause of death was congestive heart failure, said a spokesman for the Reagan presidential library. She died at her Los Angeles home.

In Washington, President Barack Obama ordered that US flags be flown at half-mast at the White House, public buildings, military posts and other facilities as a mark of respect, the White House said on Monday.

Mrs Reagan became one of the most influential first ladies in US history during her Republican husband's presidency from 1981 to 1989.

Her husband, who affectionately called her "Mommy", while she called him "Ronnie", died in 2004 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's, the progressive brain disorder that destroys memory.

Mr Obama, a Democrat, and his wife Michelle said Mrs Reagan redefined the role of first lady.

"Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House," the Obamas wrote in a joint statement on Sunday.

"She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice."