Tipped as the future prime minister of Sweden, she died on Thursday after being stabbed in a Stockholm department store earlier in the week.

 

Lindh, 46, successfully managed to combine her demanding job with being a wife, mother and passionate environmental campaigner.

 

And no matter if she was mixing with statesman at international meetings or hitting the campaign trail to back the euro, she did it with a smile on her face.

 

High-flyer

 

Born in Stockholm in 1957, Lindh started her career as a lawyer and environmental campaigner.

An active Social Democrat since her early 20s, she rose rapidly through the party ranks.

She joined parliament in 1982 before securing her first cabinet post as minister for the environment two years later.

And in 1998 she was appointed foreign minister by her mentor, Sweden’s prime minister Goeran Persson.

Passionate campaigner

During her tenure as foreign minister she gained a reputation as a fierce and dedicated proponent of human rights, an outspoken critic of right-wing politics, and a skilled negotiator.

She once described George Bush as a "lone ranger" for his decision to invade Iraq without UN approval.

And she lambasted Israeli policy under Ariel Sharon saying it made "no sense to have a dialogue with Sharon's government". 

"I think we just lost the most important person who existed in modern Swedish politics. It will take many years to find another person like her. And perhaps we never will"

A mourner in Stockholm

She also surprised many by her gift for the unconventional - for example, she once quoted Bob Dylan in a speech to the United Nations. 

Pro-European

A vehement pro-European, Lindh was a leading proponent of the government's campaign to convince the country's nine million residents to adopt the euro.

A referendum on the issue is to go ahead on Sunday despite her death.   

Polls show the single currency is unpopular among Swedes wary of entrusting their prosperity and generous welfare system to Brussels and Frankfurt.

 

But Lindh argued Sweden's long-term future lay economically and politically with Europe. 

 

Grief

 

The spontaneous outpouring of grief in Sweden gives an insight into Lindh's genuine popularity.

 

Young couples hugged and wiped away tears during candle vigils to the slain foreign minister.

  

Dozens gathered in line to write messages in a condolence book and wondered about the future of Swedish politics - even the roots of its society.

 

One mourner said: "I think we just lost the most important person who existed in modern Swedish politics. It will take many years to find another person like her. And perhaps we never will."