Britain’s “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher has passed away at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke. According to her children Mark and Carol Thatcher, the ex-prime minister had suffered from significant health problems during her later years, including several small strokes and dementia, and had to be constantly reminded that her beloved husband, Denis, had died in 2003. In addition, she was underwent an operation to remove a bladder growth in December 2012, longtime adviser Tim Bell told The Associated Press.
Thatcher, was born Margaret Hilda Roberts on October 13, 1925 to Alfred and Beatrice Ethel Roberts, and grew up in a flat over the larger of her father’s two grocery shops in Grantham, along with her sister Muriel.
Originally a research chemist (after graduating from Somerville College in Oxford), Margaret later became a barrister. She was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Finchley in 1959. Edward Heath appointed her Secretary of State for Education and Science in his 1970 government. In 1975 Thatcher defeated Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election and became Leader of the Opposition, as well as the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom. She became Prime Minister after winning the 1979 general election.
Not only was she the first woman to ever serve as prime minister of Great Britain, she held the job longer than anyone else in the post WW II era, serving from February 11, 1975-November 28, 1990.
After moving into 10 Downing Street, Thatcher introduced a series of political and economic initiatives to reverse what she perceived to be Britain’s precipitous national decline.[nb 1] Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised deregulation (particularly of the financial sector), flexible labour markets, the privatisation of state-owned companies, and reducing the power and influence of trade unions. Thatcher’s popularity during her first years in office waned amid recession and high unemployment, until economic recovery and the 1982 Falklands War brought a resurgence of support, resulting in her re-election in 1983. She also forged a lifelong alliance with Ronald Reagan, sharing his allegiance to free-market principles and opposition to the Soviet Union, and delivered at eulogy at his funeral in 2004.
Upon learning of her death, a spokesman from Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen was sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher. Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family. In addition, current prime minister David Cameron, stated “It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.”