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.
Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in Grantham, Lincolnshire, on 13 October 1925. Her father was Alfred Roberts, originally from Northamptonshire, a tobacconist, 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.
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.
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.
She is widely remembered in the UK for her diminishing of the trade union movement's power. Trade unions were much more powerful in the 1970s, and Thatcher did much to reduce their influence on British industry.
Lady Thatcher was the first woman to hold the positions of Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader.
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
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.
- "BBC History - Margaret Thatcher". BBC. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- Frei, Matt (2007-10-24). "Washington diary: Best of friends?". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
- Beckett, Clare 2006. Margaret Thatcher. Haus Publishing, 17/21. Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn".
- "Essential Margaret Thatcher | Margaret Thatcher Foundation". margaretthatcher.org. 2011 [last update]. Retrieved 18 April 2011. Check date values in:
- "Book Recounts Margaret Thatcher's Decline". CBS News. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- "Ex-Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher dies". BBC News. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.