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The Baroness Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher cropped2.png
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
4 May 1979 – 28 November 1990
Deputy William Whitelaw (1979 - 1988)
Geoffrey Howe (1988 - 1990)
Preceded by James Callaghan
Succeeded by John Major
Personal details
Born (1925-10-13)13 October 1925
Grantham, Lincolnshire, England
Died 8 April 2013(2013-04-08) (aged 87)
London, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Sir Denis Thatcher, Bt.
(m. 1951-2003, his death)
Relations Alfred Roberts
Children Mark Thatcher, Carol Thatcher
Occupation Politician, lawyer, chemist

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher LG OM PC FRS (her birth name was Margaret Hilda Roberts; 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013) was the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She was prime minister from 1979 to 1990. She led the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was often known by the nickname, "the Iron Lady", given to her by a Soviet journalist.

Early life

Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in Grantham, Lincolnshire, on 13 October 1925. Her father was Alfred Roberts, originally from Northamptonshire, and her mother was Beatrice Ethel (née Stephenson) from Lincolnshire.

She took chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford. In her final year, she studied X-ray crystallography under Dorothy Hodgkin, who later won the Nobel Prize. She was already interested in politics, and became President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946. Roberts read political works such as Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom (1944), which condemned economic intervention by government because it gave too much power to the state. After graduating, Roberts moved to Colchester in Essex to work as a research chemist for BX Plastics.

She entered Parliament in 1959 and became Secretary for Education in 1970.

As Prime Minister

Thatcher directed British troops in 1982 to get back the Falkland Islands from Argentina. Argentina had taken the Falklands for a short time during the Falklands War. She had the second longest single prime ministerial term in history. She married Denis Thatcher; they had twins: son Mark and daughter Carol.

Reagan et Thatcher
Thatcher with United States President Ronald Reagan in November 1988

She suffered from strong opposition during a miner's strike in 1984 and 1985, which took away political power from the coal miners' union. There was also controversy when she introduced a poll tax to Britain. This caused rioting across the country. The riots were one of the reasons she was replaced by John Major in 1990. In 1992, she stood down as an MP and became Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, joining the House of Lords.

During Thatcher's years as prime minister, unemployment rose by a lot, doubling during her first term, reaching 3 million in 1982. It started to decline again only in the late 1980s, and since the mid-1990s, Britain has consistently had lower unemployment than most of continental Europe. Thatcher's supporters claim this is the result of her structural reform of the labour market, though this is disputed by opponents.

During the near end of the Cold War, Thatcher became close friends with President of the United States Ronald Reagan.

She is widely remembered in the UK for her dislike of the trade union movement. Trade unions were much more powerful in the 1970s, and Thatcher did much to reduce their influence on British industry.

Lady Thatcher is the only woman to have held the positions of Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader.

Personal life

Mulroney Thatcher and Gorbachev at Reagan's funeral
Mikhail Gorbachev (left), Brian Mulroney (center), and Thatcher (right) at Ronald Reagan's funeral, June 2004

In February 1949, at a Paint Trades Federation function in Dartford, she met Denis Thatcher. They married on 13 December 1951, at Wesley's Chapel in City Road, London: the Robertses were Methodists. They had twin children, Carol and Mark, who were born on 15 August 1953, six weeks premature

Later life

Her husband Denis, died in 2003 from pancreatic cancer. She attended Ronald Reagan's funeral service in 2004. In the later years of her life, she suffered from dementia and withdrew from public engagements in 2002. In 2006, Thatcher attended the official Washington, D.C. memorial service to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States. She was a guest of Vice President Dick Cheney, and met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit. She also visited several times to the U.S. for ceremonies that honored Ronald Reagan.


She died from a stroke on 8 April 2013 in London, England. In line with her wishes she received a ceremonial funeral, including full military honours, with a church service at St Paul's Cathedral on 17 April. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip attended the funeral, the second time in the Queen's reign that she had attended the funeral of a former prime minister.

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