With pomp and poignancy, Britain buried its longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century. See video from the tribute, including remarks from Prime Minister David Cameron and Thatcher’s own granddaughter.
Into The Cathedral
With a Union Jack draped over her coffin, a mound of white roses perched atop the flag, and a choir singing a solemn hymn, Margaret Thatcher was carried into London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral just past 11:00 a.m. local time Wednesday. Thatcher, Britain’s longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century, revered by the right and despised by the left, died on Monday, April 8 of a stroke.
Despite the controversy that raged down to the final moments of the preparations, the former prime minister’s funeral went off with a feeling of sober calm.
They arrived early on an overcast London morning to bid Margaret Hilda Thatcher farewell in a choreographed ceremonial funeral that has proved as controversial as the Iron Lady’s years in office as Britain’s first—and as yet, only—female prime minister. As befitting a funeral that Lady Thatcher herself helped plan, the ceremony went off with crisp British military precision, and on time.
The coffin containing the body of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher leaves the ceremonial funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on April 17. (Pool photo by Christopher Furlong)
They fought wars, thrived in a male-dominated political world, and faced controversy at home. Bruce Riedel on the kinship between Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi.
Americans are making much of the partnership between President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher following her death last week, but the baroness's real soul mate was another Iron Lady, Prime Minister Indira Nehru Gandhi.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with Indira Gandhi at the Commonwealth Conference in November 1983 in India. (Anwar Hussein/Landov)
Jamie Dettmer recalls long lunches with the Iron Lady at the Savoy Hotel—the whisky, the flirting, and the strong-arm tactics.
She overstayed the scheduled lunch in a plush private room at London’s grand Savoy Hotel by nearly two hours and ignored an aide’s discreet gesturing to his watch. She wasn’t going to be dragged away from two of the things she most enjoyed: all-male company combined with a robust philosophical discussion about politics. And, of course, there was also the whisky, the best the Savoy could provide.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool, England, on October 8, 1987. (John Downing/Getty)
For historian Andrew Roberts, one of the saddest days of his life was when former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was ousted by her own party. He salutes a departed hero—and recalls more private moments with her in her last years.
Margaret Thatcher was once asked what she thought she had changed about British politics. “Everything,” she replied. It was true. If anyone since Winston Churchill can truly be said to have saved Britain, it was her. On becoming the first female prime minister in British history in May 1979, she set about changing the direction that Britain was going, which at the time was full speed ahead toward Third World status. By the time she left Downing Street 11½ years later—after the longest spell as premier of anyone since 1827—there was little about Britain that she had not changed immeasurably for the better.
Margaret Thatcher, with her husband, Denis, addresses the press for the last time as prime minister, in front of 10 Downing Street in London, prior to her resignation, on November 28, 1990. (Sean Dempsey/AFP/Getty)
The public remembers Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan as ‘ideological soulmates.’ But it was the Iron Lady’s connection with Rupert Murdoch that was key, argues Peter Jukes.
Though Baroness Margaret Thatcher will receive a “ceremonial” rather than the “state funeral” accorded to Sir Winston Churchill 50 years ago, she does have one advantage over the wartime British leader: she created an ideology: Thatcherism.
Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch during 37th UCP Humanitarian Award Honors Margaret Thatcher at Hilton Hotel in New York City, in 1991. (Ron Galella,Ltd./WireImage,via Getty)
A loner for most of her political career, the former prime minister Margaret Thatcher faced vicious sexism, but she triumphed to transform the status of women in Britain. Just don’t call her a feminist. By Amanda Foreman.
The late Margaret Thatcher never called herself a feminist. In 1975, during her first tour of the United States as the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party, Thatcher refused to give the feminist movement any credit for her success. When asked by a reporter about her debt to “women’s lib,” she angrily replied, “Some of us were making it long before women’s lib was ever thought of.”
British politician Margaret Thatcher at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool, England, 1972. (Jamie Hodgson/Getty)
The world needs an Iron Lady every now and then to set things right. And above all else, that was what Britain’s first and only female prime minister set out to do.
Let us not struggle to get past the cliché of “The Iron Lady,” because sometimes clichés bring us right to the core virtues of a public figure. And Margaret Thatcher, who died of a stroke on Monday at the age of 87, was every bit the solid, stalwart, unwavering person that the world knew well and will miss profoundly now that she is gone.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher answers a reporter’s question during a news conference in 1982 at the United Nations. (Gerald Penny/AP)
Recently deceased former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II had a complicated relationship. Andrew Marr on a barbecue at the Queen’s Balmoral estate that reveals their differences.
A wide variety of experienced politicians, civil servants and courtiers who observed at first hand the Queen’s relationship with Margaret Thatcher agree: it was (long pause, pained expression) “difficult.” Here were two women of similar age but very dissimilar backgrounds; previously strangers, they were conjoined during the most tumultuous and confrontational years of postwar politics.
Among the most radical of the Thatcherite thinkers were some whose contempt for the old, flabby institutions of a weary, oversocialized country reached even to the monarchy. They (naively) tended to see the United States as a model in politics and economics, a briskly invigorating meritocracy where wealth was made, not inherited. They disliked the Queen’s tolerance of left-wing dictators in the Commonwealth and had no more patience for the easy life and unchallenged rituals of the court than they did for BBC executives or tenured academics. Ardent young men from think tanks saw “Margaret” as their real queen, and even older gurus of the right, such as Enoch Powell, warned that the Queen’s overseas ambition was mere swollen pride. In the 1970s, the Marxist left had derided the monarchy and the Queen had been assaulted on punk T-shirts. In the 1980s, the hostility of right-wing radicals was as serious. In a strange twist, by then many on the left had begun to delude themselves and believe that, deep down, the Queen was secretly on their side.
The woman who transformed Britain based her leadership on a clear, if narrow, set of principles.
At her prime, Margaret Thatcher was a political giant.
I first met her on a wet September evening during the 1964 election campaign, when she was defending her Finchley seat in North London. Little she said to the small meeting in a drab school hall has stayed with me, but I shall never forget my first sight of her as she steamed through the swing doors, blonde hair flowing, stripped off her dripping raincoat, and without a backward glance threw it confidently over her shoulder, to be caught by her ever supportive husband, Denis. She clearly knew where she was going—to the political pinnacle—and that she could rely on her faithful inner group of supporters, those she called “one of us.”
Singer Morrissey, of the seminal 1980s band The Smiths, reacts to news of the death of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Mikhail Gorbachev, Meryl Streep, and more bold-faced names react to the passing of an icon.
Actress Meryl Streep, who won an Oscar for playing Thatcher in the movie The Iron Lady:
The late Margaret Thatcher had plenty of detractors, and many of them knew how to rock out. From Morrissey to McCartney, listen to the best of Britain’s musical rebukes to the Iron Lady.
In his 1988 song “Margaret on the Guillotine,” Morrissey wondered when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then in her final stretch as party leader, would make his “dream real” and...well...die.
Twenty-five years later, one can presume that the former Smiths frontman is experiencing a rare moment of good cheer. Because like many British musicians of the era, Morrissey was fond of excitedly presaging the Iron Lady’s demise. “The entire history of Margaret Thatcher is one of violence, oppression, and horror,” Morrissey once told Rolling Stone. “She is only one person and can be destroyed. I just pray there is a Sirhan Sirhan [RFK’s assassin] somewhere. It’s the only remedy for this country at the moment.” When in 1984 the Irish Republican Army exploded a massive bomb at a Conservative Party conference, killing five and disabling many others, he expressed his “sorrow” that “Thatcher escaped unscathed.” The British punk band Angelic Upstarts responded with a song cheering the Brighton attack (“killers unite / killers with the right!”).
Known for her firm convictions, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher knew how to make her point. Watch this mashup of some of her best lines.
Margaret Thatcher's influence endured long after her premiership ended. Read Amanda Foreman on her legacy and her film immortalization by Meryl Streep.