The world has lost one of its most famous leaders…
Via CNN reports:
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died Monday following a stroke, her spokeswoman confirmed.
Britain’s only female prime minister, Thatcher served from 1979 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was called the “Iron Lady” for her personal and political toughness.
Thatcher retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that.
She made few public appearances in her final months, missing a reception marking her 85th birthday hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2010. She also skipped the July 2011 unveiling of a statue honoring her old friend Ronald Reagan in London.
In December 2012, she was hospitalized after a procedure to remove a growth in her bladder.
Thatcher won the nation’s top job only six years after declaring in a television interview, “I don’t think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime.”
During her time at the helm of the British government, she emphasized moral absolutism, nationalism, and the rights of the individual versus that of the state — famously declaring, “There is no such thing as society” in 1987.
Nicknamed the “Iron Lady” by the Soviet press after a 1976 speech declaring that “the Russians are bent on world dominance,” Thatcher later enjoyed a close working relationship with U.S. President Reagan, with whom she shared similar conservative views.
But the British cold warrior played a key role in ending the conflict by giving her stamp of approval to Soviet Communist reformer Mikhail Gorbachev shortly before he came to power.
“I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together,” she famously declared in December 1984, three months before he became Soviet leader.
Thatcher — born in October 1925 in the small eastern England market town of Grantham — came from a modest background, taking pride in being known as a grocer’s daughter. She studied chemistry at Oxford, but was involved in politics from a young age, giving her first political speech at 20, according to her official biography.
She was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, when the party was in opposition.
She made history four years later, becoming prime minister when the Conservatives won the elections of 1979, the first of three election victories she led her party to.
Thatcher was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, a year after she stepped down as prime minister. She was named Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven after leaving office.
She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several smaller strokes after that. Her husband died in June 2003.
Though her doctors advised against public speaking, a frail Thatcher attended Reagan’s 2004 funeral, saying in a pre-recorded video that Reagan was “a great president, a great American, and a great man.”
“And I have lost a dear friend,” she said.
In the years that followed she encountered additional turmoil — namely in 2004, when her son, Mark Thatcher, was arrested in an investigation of an alleged plot by mercenaries to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea in west Africa. He pleaded guilty in a South African court in 2005 to unwittingly bankrolling the plot.
She definitely lived a full life. R.I.P. Iron Lady!