April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher, 'Iron Lady,' dead at 87

The Associated Press

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In this June 9, 1983, photo, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher leaves a London polling station with her husband, Dennis, after casting their votes in the general election.

AP

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In this Feb. 20, 1985, photo, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher meets with her friend and political ally President Ronald Reagan during a visit to the White House in Washington.

AP

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Milestones in the life of Margaret Thatcher

Oct. 13, 1925: Born at Grantham, central England.

June 1947: Graduates from Oxford with a chemistry degree.

Dec. 13, 1951: Marries Denis Thatcher, a wealthy oil executive.

Aug. 15, 1953: Gives birth to twins, Mark and Carol.

June 1, 1954:
Qualifies as a lawyer.

Oct. 8, 1959: Elected to Parliament.

June 20, 1970: Becomes education secretary.

Feb. 11, 1975: Elected leader of the Conservative Party.

May 3, 1979: Wins national elections, becomes prime minister.

June 9, 1983: Wins second term.

June 11, 1987: Wins third term.

Jan. 3, 1988: Becomes Britain's longest continuously serving prime minister of 20th century.

Nov. 22, 1990: Announces resignation after party revolt.

Nov. 28, 1990: John Major succeeds her as prime minister.

June 26, 1992:
Becomes Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, a member of the unelected House of Lords with a lifetime title.

March 22, 2002: Ends public speaking after suffering a series of small strokes.

June 26, 2003:
Her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, dies.

April 8, 2013: Dies of stroke.

That decision may have been a sign that hubris was undermining Thatcher's political acumen. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in London and other cities, leading to some of the worst riots in the British capital in more than a century.

The shocking sight of Trafalgar Square turned into a smoldering battleground on March 31, 1990, helped convince many Conservative figures that Thatcher had stayed too long.

"How could a leader who was wise make 13 million people pay a tax they had never paid before? It just showed that she was no longer thinking in a rational way," one of her junior ministers, David Mellor, said in a BBC documentary.

For Conservatives in Parliament, it was a question of survival. They feared vengeful voters would turn them out of office at the next election, and for many that fear trumped any gratitude they might have felt for their longtime leader.

Eight months after the riots, Thatcher was gone, struggling to hold back tears as she left Downing Street after being ousted by her own party.

It was a bitter end for Thatcher's active political career — her family said she felt a keen sense of betrayal even years later.

In 1992, she was appointed in the House of Lords, taking the title Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven.

Thatcher wrote several best-selling memoirs after leaving office and was a frequent speaker on the international circuit before she suffered several small strokes that in 2002 led her to curtail her lucrative public speaking career.

Denis Thatcher died the following year; they had been married more than half a century.

Thatcher's later years were marred by her son Mark Thatcher's murky involvement in bankrolling a 2004 coup in Equatorial Guinea. He was fined and received a suspended sentence for his role in the tawdry affair.

She suffered from dementia in her final years, and her public appearances became increasingly rare. British media reported that Thatcher had been staying at the Ritz because her Belgravia home did not have an elevator and she was having difficulty getting around.

She is survived by her two children, Mark Thatcher and Carol Thatcher, and her two grandchildren.

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Margaret Thatcher, shown here in a 1969 photo. For admirers, she was a savior who rescued Britain from ruin and laid the groundwork for an extraordinary economic renaissance. For critics, she was a heartless tyrant who ushered in an era of greed that kicked the weak into the streets and let the rich become filthy rich.

AP

  


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