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Family, friends and politicians from all sides have paid their respects to Margaret Thatcher at the Palace of Westminster chapel, ahead of the former prime minister’s funeral on Wednesday.

A short service was held with around 100 MPs and peers, and parliamentary and Downing Street staff taking part.

The union jack-draped coffin had arrived earlier in an escorted hearse.

Meanwhile, MPs have voted to cancel Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, after some MPs had tried to force it to go ahead.

Margaret Thatcher, who died at the age of 87 on April 8, has been accorded a ceremonial funeral with military honors, one step down from a state funeral.

Family, friends and politicians from all sides have paid their respects to Margaret Thatcher at the Palace of Westminster chapel

Family, friends and politicians from all sides have paid their respects to Margaret Thatcher at the Palace of Westminster chapel

Baroness Thatcher’s body will now rest overnight in the Palace of Westminster’s Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, where a service was led by the Dean of Westminster for members of the family, senior figures from both Houses of Parliament, and staff from Parliament and Downing Street.

Senior figures attending included Commons Speaker John Bercow, Leader of the House Andrew Lansley, Chief Whip Sir George Young and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Senior Liberal Democrat Baroness Williams said the service had been “very impressive” and “not at all political” but “more about the Thatcher family”.

Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth added that it had been “dignified”.

The chapel will be open for several hours in order that members of both Houses and parliamentary staff may pay their respects.

The House of Commons Speaker’s chaplain will then keep vigil through the night.

A debate in the Scottish Parliament on Margaret Thatcher’s legacy is to be postponed until after the funeral.

Green Party and independent members had wanted to hold the discussion shortly after the service, but the main parties at Holyrood have agreed that it should be moved to Thursday.

On Wednesday morning, Margaret Thatcher’s coffin will initially travel by hearse from the Palace of Westminster to the Church of St Clement Danes – the Central Church of the RAF – on the Strand.

The coffin will then be transferred to a gun carriage and taken in procession to St Paul’s.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are among more than 2,000 people expected to attend the service.

Former US Vice-President Dick Cheney and ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will also be among the guests, while 4,000 police will be on duty.

Barack Obama’s official presidential delegation will be led by George Shultz and James Baker, who both served as secretaries of state during the Thatcher era.

Argentina’s ambassador to London, Alicia Castro, has declined an invitation to attend.

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Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will not be attended by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev due to health problems, his spokesman has announced.

Mikhail Gorbachev, 82, with whom the former British prime minister worked closely at the end of the Cold War, was expected to be one of a number of global figures attending.

Downing Street said consultation over the funeral guest list was continuing.

It has confirmed that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will not be invited.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are already confirmed for next Wednesday’s ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Margaret Thatcher's funeral will not be attended by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev due to health problems

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will not be attended by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev due to health problems

During her time in power Margaret Thatcher struck up an unlikely alliance with Mikhail Gorbachev, the reforming Soviet president who oversaw the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Following her death on Monday, Mikhail Gorbachev paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher as a “heavyweight politician and a striking person”.

On Wednesday, British MPs were recalled from their Easter break for a seven-hour Commons debate about Lady Thatcher.

British PM David Cameron said Margaret Thatcher “overcame the great challenges of her age”. Labour’s Ed Miliband paid tribute but said he disagreed “with much of what she did”.

Conservative MPs queued up in the Commons to pay their respects to Margaret Thatcher, who was prime minister from 1979 to 1990, but about half of Labour’s 256 MPs stayed away.

The Lords also held a debate on the former prime minister, with her former Cabinet ministers Lord Fowler and Lord Tebbit among those paying tribute.

The Guardian has reported that Commons Speaker John Bercow was taken aback by David Cameron’s request to recall Parliament because he thought tributes could be paid on Monday, when MPs were due to return.

The paper reports that a lengthy wrangle ensued, with David Cameron enlisting the support of Ed Miliband to overcome opposition to the move.

Responding to the report, a Downing Street spokesman said: “Only government ministers can request the recall of the House, which the Speaker then decides on.

“The prime minister felt given the strength of feeling following Lady Thatcher’s death it was appropriate to give the House an early opportunity to pay its respects.”

Discussions between PM David Cameron and the Speaker are ongoing about whether Prime Minister’s Questions, usually held at midday, will be cancelled next Wednesday to allow MPs to attend the funeral.

Speaker John Bercow could require MPs to attend the session later in the afternoon, rather than cancel it.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has said “an administrative error” led to inaccurate guidance being issued to diplomatic staff in embassies around the world after it was reported they had been told to wear mourning clothes on the day of the funeral.

They were later told it was unnecessary.

Guests who have said they will be attending Margaret Thatcher’s funeral include ex-Labour PM’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, as well as FW de Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa.

The Queen has not attended the funeral of a British politician since that of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.

More than 700 armed forces personnel will line the route of the procession from Westminster to St Paul’s, including three bands whose drums will be covered in black cloth.

A gun salute will be fired from the Tower of London and the coffin will be carried into St Paul’s by service personnel from regiments and ships closely associated with the Falklands campaign.

The Metropolitan Police said it was working to ensure the day passed off safely, amid concerns that some people may use it as an opportunity to protest.

On the day of Margaret Thatcher’s death, there were small gatherings in various parts of the UK, notably in Glasgow, Bristol and London, with those taking part saying they were celebrating her death.

Met Commander Christine Jones urged anyone wishing to demonstrate to at the funeral to talk to the police.

“The right to protest is one that must be upheld,” she said.

“However, we will work to do that whilst balancing the rights of those who wish to pay their respects and those who wish to travel about London as usual.”

Margaret Thatcher’s family is meeting an unspecified amount of the expense of the funeral, thought to cover transport, flowers and the cremation, with the government funding the rest, including security.

Downing Street said the cost of the funeral would not be released until after the event.

Margaret Thatcher, who won three successive general elections, died “peacefully” on Monday after suffering a stroke while staying at the Ritz hotel in central London.

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It isn't easy to ascertain when Margaret Thatcher first referred to her minimal sleep schedule, but the figure of four hours has passed into lore

It isn’t easy to ascertain when Margaret Thatcher first referred to her minimal sleep schedule, but the figure of four hours has passed into lore

Part of Margaret Thatcher’s fearsome reputation came from how little she slept; she could get by on four hours a night, it has often been said.

Former British PM Margaret Thatcher would keep her officials up working on a speech until two or three in the morning and then be up by five in time to listen to Farming Today (a BBC Radio 4 programme running every day from 5.45 a.m.).

“She slept four hours a night on weekdays,” said Sir Bernard Ingham, her Downing Street press secretary.

“I wasn’t with her at weekends. I guess she got a bit more then.”

It isn’t easy to ascertain when Margaret Thatcher first referred to her minimal sleep schedule, but the figure of four hours has passed into lore.

People use it as a benchmark of endurance, often jokingly referring to those who need much more.

Margaret Thatcher’s close friend and former Conservative Party treasurer Lord McAlpine stayed with her at Chequers during the holidays.

“She worked right through Christmas. When everyone else went off to bed she went off to work.”

Baroness Thatcher’s biographer John Campbell, author of The Iron Lady, said her late-to-bed, early-to-rise routine made her the “best informed person in the room”. Occasionally husband Denis Thatcher would snap. “Woman – bed!” he is reputed to have shouted on one occasion.

Margaret Thatcher’s frugal sleep pattern created a problem for her successor John Major.

“He found it difficult coming after her because the civil service had got used to a prime minister who never slept, and he used to sleep eight hours a night,” John Campbell said.

Sleep comes to be seen as part of a leader’s character. When Napoleon Bonaparte was asked how many hours sleep people need, he is said to have replied: “Six for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool.”

For the Iron Lady four hours was a badge of almost superhuman strength.

Winston Churchill survived on four hours a night during the war. But what is less often noted is that he had regular afternoon naps in his pyjamas.

Margaret Thatcher was not one for these afternoon sleeps.

“No, she wasn’t a napper,” Bernard Ingham said.

But is the four-hour measure something ordinary people should aspire to?

In the world of business it is certainly something people strive for. High-profile chief executives from Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! to Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi get by on four hours a night, while Donald Trump claims to survive on three.

Geraint Anderson, author of City Boy, who worked as an analyst and stockbroker for 12 years, recognizes the phenomenon.

“There was a real macho competition in the City about sleep. One of the ways of getting respect was bragging about how little you got.”

The hours were long – from 6.30 in the morning to seven at night. Socializing might mean staying out till three in the morning. And this was just the analysts. The corporate financiers were the real hard workers.

“They’d work into the early hours, get a couple of hours’ kip at the office and start again.”

To admit needing sleep was a sign of weakness: “After the Christmas or summer party you’d make sure you stayed the latest and came in a little earlier than normal the next morning.”

Lady Thatcher was not the cause but her name was regularly invoked by his bosses.

“They’d say she can get by on four hours to run the country. And she’s an old lady.”

As well as business, there have been military leaders who eschewed the eight hours and opted for the Spartan Thatcher credo.

General David Petraeus ate one meal a day and slept only four hours a night, it was reported.

There’s no correct amount of sleep, said Prof. Kevin Morgan, of Loughborough University’s sleep research centre.

The only rule is to sleep long enough to feel refreshed when you wake up.

For about 1% of people – probably including Margaret Thatcher – this will be as little as four hours a night, said Kevin Morgan.

“You can’t just suddenly become someone who sleeps this little,” he argued. It’s likely to have been a pattern common to her life before becoming prime minister.

It is a big advantage for visionary or creative people to be part of this so-called sleep elite. And for a statesman attending all-night summits it might be a huge advantage.

“The people around you are flagging. When people get tired the quality of their decision-making is compromised.”

Prof. James Horne, also at Loughborough’s sleep research centre, says that mood is critical. Soldiers high on adrenalin can function on little sleep: “It all depends if one gets a buzz out of what one’s doing. If you’re despondent, you tend to sleep more; if you’re excited you need less. Margaret Thatcher was someone who felt on top of things.”

The average adult sleeps seven hours a night but many sleep considerably less than this, especially people over 50. So it’s possible that Margaret Thatcher fell within the range of normality rather than the 1%, James Horne argued.

“She may have sometimes slept four hours and made up for her deficit by sleeping a little longer on other nights.

“You tend to attribute great things to great people, that they need no sleep or no food and have superhuman qualities.”

Matthew Parris, who was a fellow Conservative MP of Margaret Thatcher’s during the 1970s and 1980s, says it was probably more like four to five hours rather than the three to four that some have suggested. It took its toll and may have led to poor decisions, he believes.

Despite her toughness, Margaret Thatcher was often tired out, he remembers.

“When we were jammed into the lobby I would be looking at her from six inches away. I would often see the eyes of an exhausted woman.”

Recently there has been a move away from ostentatious sleeplessness. Burning the midnight oil in Gordon Brown’s case was perceived as evidence of obsessive worrying and weakness.

The work-life balance has arrived, even in Number 10. Tony Blair slept longer than Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown but made an exception to get up at night for baby Leo. George W. Bush was in bed by 10, unlike his predecessor Bill Clinton, who worked late and got by on four or five hours.

For artists, sleep deprivation carries a whiff of creative drive and raucous hedonism. Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist, once stayed awake for nine days – when he fell asleep, he fell down so quickly that he broke his nose.

Some of Margaret Thatcher’s comments have been described as “unabashedly racist” by Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in an interview with a local broadcaster.

In a conversation with Margaret Thatcher “in her retirement”, Bob Carr said the former British prime minister had warned Australia against Asian immigration.

Margaret Thatcher said “if we allowed too much of it we’d see the natives of the land, the European settlers, overtaken by migrants”, Bob Carr recalled.

Some of Margaret Thatcher’s comments have been described as "unabashedly racist" by Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Some of Margaret Thatcher’s comments have been described as “unabashedly racist” by Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Baroness Thatcher, 87, died on Monday after suffering a series of strokes.

Bob Carr made his comments on the Australian broadcaster ABC’s Lateline programme.

He said he had been “astonished” at the comments by Margaret Thatcher, which were made while his Malaysian-born wife Helena was “standing not far away” but was “fortunately out of earshot”.

But he said he retained respect for the “boldness of her political leadership”.

Bob Carr prefaced his comments by saying Margaret Thatcher had been “the most significant” leader since Winston Churchill, forcing social democratic parties to “think more deeply about the function of the state”. Lady Thatcher had been “right in joining [former US President Ronald] Reagan and denouncing the old Soviet Union as an evil dictatorship”, he said.

“On 100 other things I would pick arguments with her and I recall one conversation I had with her in her retirement where she said something that was unabashedly racist, where she warned Australia – talking to me with Helena standing not far away – against Asian immigration, saying that if we allowed too much of it we’d see the natives of the land, the European settlers, overtaken by migrants.

“I couldn’t believe it. It reminded me that despite, yes, her greatness on those big questions, the role of the state, the evil nature of the Communist totalitarianism, there was an old-fashioned quality to her that was entirely out of touch and probably explained why her party removed her in the early 90s.”

Bob Carr went on to recall: “I remember one thing she said as part of that conversation, she said: <<You will end up like Fiji>>. She said: <<I like Sydney but you can’t allow the migrants>> – and in context she meant Asian migration – <<to take over, otherwise you will end up like Fiji where the Indian migrants have taken over>>.

“I was so astonished I don’t think I could think of an appropriate reply.”

Margaret Thatcher will be buried with full military honors at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday April 17.

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Former British PM Margaret Thatcher divides Britain in death as much as in life; while she was hailed by business leaders and former colleagues, ordinary people who suffered from her brutal policies were celebrating the Iron Lady’s death.

Hundreds took to the streets as macabre “Thatcher death parties” were held late across the country last night, organized by Baroness Thatcher’s critics.

In Bristol, seven police officers were injured – one seriously – as violence erupted at a street party of 200 people and officers were pelted with bottles, cans and rubbish.

Riot police were deployed in Brixton, south London, as the crowds, which had been drinking since 5 p.m., started to become more aggressive, while in Liverpool flares and fireworks were set off outside Lime Street Station.

Messages to organize the parties began flooding the internet minutes after the official announcement.

In Bristol police were called to Chelsea Road in the Easton area of the city during the early hours of today after violence erupted at a street party.

Trouble flared after midnight when a rowdy 200-strong crowd refused police requests to disperse.

People who suffered from Margaret Thatcher’s brutal policies as PM were celebrating the Iron Lady’s death on the street

People who suffered from Margaret Thatcher’s brutal policies as PM were celebrating the Iron Lady’s death on the street

Dozens of officers donned riot gear and used shields and batons as they were pelted with bottles, cans and rubbish.

Wheelie bins were set on fire by the mob and a police car was damaged by the flying missiles.

Some of the injured police needed hospital treatment and one male officer was still detained today with a neck injury.

One man was arrested for violent disorder and it took police more than two hours to restore calm.

It was not until 3 a.m. that most of the police units sent to the scene were stood down.

The party had started outside the Chelsea Inn in Easton, which is one of Bristol’s poorest and multi-cultural neighborhoods.

The air was thick with cannabis smoke as revelers toasted the death of Margaret Thatcher, chanting: “Maggie Thatcher, Maggie Thatcher, she’s not living anymore. She’s not living anymore.”

Some people drank champagne while others walked around in Margaret Thatcher masks and one man dressed up as the former PM.

Sound systems were set up in the street to fuel the party atmosphere and the trouble broke out when police tried to stop the music.

Unemployed Julian Styles, 58, who was made redundant from his factory job in 1984, said: “I’ve been waiting for that witch to die for 30 years.

“Tonight is party time. I’m drinking one drink for every year I’ve been out of work.”

Speaking to Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio Ulster, former PM Tony Blair said the celebrations of Margaret Thatcher’s death were in poor taste.

When asked if he worried there would be similar celebrations when he dies, Tony Blair said: “When you decide, you divide. I think she would be pretty philisophical about it and I hope I will be too.”

In Brixton, south London, two women were arrested on suspicion of looting a store and riot police were deployed as the crowds which had been drinking since 5 p.m. started to become more aggressive, refusing to let buses through the streets.

More than 300 people, including the young and old partied until late at night on the streets of London, clutching cans of cider and cartons of milk as they danced along to reggae and 1980s music.

Many children also attended the impromptu event with their parents some wearing fancy dress, fairy wings and clutching balloons.

The carnival-like celebrations also drew crowds who had no knowledge or interest in at Margaret Thatcher, but who wanted to join in with the revelry.

Brixton was the scene of intense rioting during her time as Prime Minster – the unrest was blamed on deep social divisions, racial tensions and unemployment.

At 11 p.m. last night, party-goers climbed the Ritzy Cinema to replace the billboard of films to say “Margaret Thatcher’s dead”.

They received cheers and applause from fellow revelers as they did so.

Later they added the words “LOL” (laugh out loud), followed by “Oh Aye”.

The two hooded men who covered their faces as they replaced the words on the Picture House cinema also attached a sign reading “the bitch is dead”.

The Ritzy Cinema said it had nothing to do with masked people and later tweeted its thanks to those who helped clean up broken letters and damage.

Pictures of anti-Thatcher graffiti scrawled on walls in Brixton also appeared on Twitter, with one reading: “You snatched my milk! & our hope.”

Banners were held stating “Rejoice Thatcher is dead” by drunken crowds, many of whom were too young to remember her as prime minister.

Sickening messages also began flooding the internet minutes after the official announcement.

Revelers danced the conga, drank champagne and chanted: “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie – Dead, Dead, Dead.”

Barnados charity shop was a casualty of the celebrations and this morning the store front had been left with a gaping hole in the glass.

Alex Bigham, a councilor in Lambeth representing Stockwell condemned the celebrations and said: “Even if you detested her policies, many of which I did, it is tasteless posturing.”

The Metropolitan Police said: “Police dealt with a group of approximately 100 people in Brixton who caused low level disorder including throwing missiles at officers.”

Police confirmed that two women were arrested on suspicion of burglary after being found inside a shop in Brixton. The shop front had been smashed.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, more than 300 people gathered in the city centre for street party, organized on Twitter.

Members of organizations including the Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, the Communist party, the Socialist party, the Socialist Workers party and the International Socialist Group, were joined by members of the public in the city’s George Square.

A chorus of “so long, the witch is dead”, along with chants of “Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead”, could be heard among the popping of champagne bottles.

In Leeds, people cheered and even handed out “Maggie death cake” at another of several street parties across the UK last night.

In west Belfast, a crowd assembled on the streets outside the Sinn Féin office in the Lower Falls road where music was played as people danced and passing motorists sounded their horns.

People were seen huddling in a crowd as they drank and sang to celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death.

Petrol bombs were thrown at police near Free Derry corner amid celebrations and missiles were also used against the officers.

Martin McGuinness has called on people not to celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher.

Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister at the Northern Ireland Assembly, tweeted: “Resist celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher. She was not a peacemaker but it is a mistake to allow her death to poison our minds.”

Unionists like DUP First Minister Peter Robinson have praised Margaret Thatcher’s commitment to the Union but Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams accused her of pursuing “draconian, militaristic” policies which prolonged the conflict.

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Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, April 17, Downing Street has announced today.

Former British PM Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, April 8, after suffering a series of strokes.

The funeral ceremony, with full military honors, will take place at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, following a procession from Westminster.

Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will attend the service, Buckingham Palace said.

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, April 17

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, April 17

Margaret Thatcher will not have a state funeral but will be accorded the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

A ceremonial funeral is one rung down from a state funeral – normally reserved for monarchs – and requires the consent of the Queen.

A Downing Street spokesman said the details had been agreed at a “co-ordination meeting” between the Thatcher family and Buckingham Palace on Tuesday morning.

Baroness Thatcher, a Conservative, was Britain’s first female prime minister. She was in office from 1979 to 1990, winning three successive general elections.

She died “peacefully” after suffering a stroke while staying at the Ritz hotel in central London. Lady Thatcher had been staying at the hotel since being discharged from hospital at the end of last year.

An undertaker’s van carrying a silver casket left the hotel early on Tuesday morning for an undisclosed location.

Parliament will be recalled from its Easter recess this Wednesday to enable MPs and peers to pay tributes.

But Labour MP John Mann said: “I do not know why we are wasting taxpayers’ money on an additional session.

“It is perfectly valid that, when a prime minister dies, MPs can pay tribute, but this could be perfectly properly done on Monday.”

PM David Cameron has described Margaret Thatcher as a “great Briton” and international leaders, including US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have praised her.

Lady Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts, the daughter of a shopkeeper and Conservative councilor in Grantham, Lincolnshire, in 1925. She became an MP in 1959.

Having been education secretary, Margaret Thatcher successfully challenged former PM Edward Heath for her party’s leadership in 1975 and won general elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987.

Margaret Thatcher resigned as prime minister in 1990 and had been in poor health for several years prior to her death.

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Queen Elizabeth II is often said to have had a less than easy relationship with former premier Margaret Thatcher, her eighth – and longest-serving – prime minister.

Born six months apart, Margaret Thatcher and the Queen were two women very much making their mark in a man’s world.

Always mindful of her constitutional role and cordial to the last, the British monarch is nevertheless said to have personally disagreed with some of Margaret Thatcher’s more divisive policies and privately expressed her alarm over issues such as unemployment and the miners’ strike.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman issued a statement on Monday saying the Queen was “sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher” and would be sending a private message of sympathy to her family.

Born six months apart, Margaret Thatcher and the Queen were two women very much making their mark in a man's world

Born six months apart, Margaret Thatcher and the Queen were two women very much making their mark in a man’s world

However, there was no confirmation that the Queen would attend the funeral (as she did for Sir Winston Churchill, although that was a state occasion), despite having no public engagements in her diary for either Wednesday or Thursday next week.

Instead, a spokesman said the Queen was “waiting for details about the funeral arrangements from the Government”. While Her Majesty may have found her first female prime minister somewhat frosty, Lady Thatcher’s respect and admiration for the monarch knew no bounds, not least because she had been raised in an intensely patriotic family.

Margaret Thatcher once told author Gyles Brandreth that the talk of a strained relationship with the Queen was “a lot of nonsense” and spoke with admiration about her commitment to the Commonwealth and armed services.

“No one could curtsey lower than Margaret Thatcher,” said another former aide.

Inevitably, after 11 years of almost weekly meetings, the Queen and Margaret Thatcher reached something akin to friendship.

Margaret Thatcher was even said to have jokingly sent the monarch a pair of rubber gloves as a Christmas present after witnessing her doing the washing up following a barbecue at Balmoral without a pair. Other sources say it wasn’t that the two women did not like each other, they were simply very different people.

The Queen is dry and rather witty in private, while Margaret Thatcher always had a tendency to hector, regardless of her audience.

In 1986, their relationship was put under the spotlight when The Sunday Times reported sources close to the Queen saying she was “dismayed” by “uncaring” Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa, a decision the monarch feared would split the Commonwealth.

The story caused uproar. The Queen is required constitutionally to keep her opinions private. The quotes were subsequently attributed to the Palace’s press secretary, Michael Shea. The monarch is said to have rung Margaret Thatcher to reassure her that her views were nothing of the sort.

If the relationship was never entirely easy, the two certainly never wavered in their mutual respect. The Queen, in particular, is said to have admired Margaret Thatcher’s grit, determination and enormous achievements.

After Margaret Thatcher’s enforced resignation in 1990, the Queen awarded the baroness the Order of Garter and the Order of Merit – neither of which has been offered to Tony Blair.

The Queen was also a guest of honor at Margaret Thatcher’s 80th birthday celebrations.

Fellow guests were touched at the sight of the Queen taking the hand of Margaret Thatcher as she gently raised her from a deep curtsey, before guiding the already frail baroness through the throng of assembled guests.

A guide to the extraordinary life and career of the first British female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher:

Who was Margaret Thatcher?

Margaret Thatcher, born Margaret Hilda Roberts in Grantham, Lincolnshire on 13 October 1925, was the longest-serving British prime minister in modern times and the first woman to lead a major Western democracy. She won three successive general elections and spent a total of 11 years in Downing Street, from May 1979 to November 1990.

What did Baroness Thatcher achieve?

British society changed almost beyond recognition during the Thatcher years, as heavy industry closed and a new free market economy was born. The political philosophy she established still dominates British politics to this day. But critics say the changes came at the price of a more divided society and the destruction of traditional working-class communities.

Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving British prime minister in modern times and the first woman to lead a major Western democracy

Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving British prime minister in modern times and the first woman to lead a major Western democracy

What about on the international stage?

Margaret Thatcher joined forces with US president Ronald Reagan to pioneer a new form of dynamic free-market conservatism, which has since taken root around the world. Her support for reforming Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev arguably hastened the end of the Cold War and the spread of democracy to former Eastern Bloc states.

What was Margaret Thatcher’s background?

The younger of two daughters, Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in 1925 in Grantham, a small market town in eastern England. Her father, Alfred, owned a grocer’s shop and was involved in local politics. She went to an all-girls grammar school, before studying chemistry at Oxford University. She then trained as a barrister, specializing in tax. She married divorced millionaire businessman Denis Thatcher and had two children – twins Carol and Mark.

How did Lady Thatcher get into politics?

She owed her lifelong passion for politics to father Alfred, who was on the local council in Grantham. At Oxford in the mid 1940s, she became the first female president of the university’s Conservative association. In 1959, at the age of 34, she was elected as an MP, for the north London seat of Finchley, in an era when female politicians were still a rarity.

How did Margaret Thatcher become prime minister?

Margaret Thatcher had a rough ride after Tory leader Ted Heath made her education secretary in 1970. She was dubbed “Thatcher the milk snatcher” after her decision to end free school milk for older primary school pupils. The prospect of her becoming party leader, let alone prime minister, seemed a distant one. But after the Tories lost the second 1974 general election there was a hunger in the party for a different approach and to the surprise of many, herself included, she defeated Ted Heath in a 1975 leadership election. Four years later she was elected prime minister with a Commons majority of 43.

What were the key moments of her early years in power?

Margaret Thatcher was determined to revive Britain’s ailing economy but her choice of medicine – squeezing inflation and clamping down on public spending and borrowing – led to a far worse downturn than most had predicted. Unemployment soared above three million as large chunks of Britain’s manufacturing and heavy industries closed down. England’s inner cities saw riots in 1981. Her refusal to do a U-turn – as her predecessor Ted Heath had done – meant she appeared to be heading for defeat at the next election. The Falklands War – when she sent a naval task force to retake the South Atlantic islands invaded by Argentina – and Labour’s leftward lurch are both credited with helping her win that second election.

What about Margaret Thatcher’s second term?

Margaret Thatcher was re-elected by a landslide in 1983, in a wave of post-Falklands patriotic fervour. But her second term saw more turmoil – including one of the longest and most bitter industrial disputes in British history in the 1984 miners’ strike. In October of that year, with the strike still under way, the IRA attempted to murder Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet by bombing her hotel during the Conservative Party conference in Brighton. The economy improved towards the end of her second term as free market reforms and the sale of state assets gathered pace.

What about her third term?

A second landslide followed in the 1987 general election, with Margaret Thatcher returning to Downing Street with a 102 seat majority, becoming the longest continually serving prime minister since Lord Liverpool in the early 19th Century. Her third term was marked by an increasingly hard line on Europe, and the continuation of economic reforms with privatization and the further growth of home and share ownership.

How did Margaret Thatcher’s premiership come to an end?

In one of the most dramatic episodes in political history, Margaret Thatcher was ejected by her own MPs three years after her 1987 election victory amid public anger over a new tax system for local government, dubbed the poll tax. The resignation of ultra-loyal Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, over her increasingly skeptical stance on Europe, finally triggered her downfall after senior Conservatives told her she would lose a leadership election. She never lost an election.

What were Margaret Thatcher’s key domestic reforms?

Seeking to tame inflation through monetarist economic policy, curbing union power, selling off nationally owned monopolies, liberalizing the stock market and introducing the right-to-buy for council tenants.

What is Margaret Thatcher’s legacy?

Britain would probably be a very different place today without Margaret Thatcher. Her bold free market reforms and curbs on union power – that caused so much controversy in the 1980s – are now accepted as conventional wisdom by all mainstream British political parties. The centre ground of British politics shifted to the right as a result of her time in power.

Margaret Thatcher is, furthermore, a global icon and role model for female politicians and, with Ronald Reagan, one of the towering figures of the political right.

She suffered from poor health for several years before her death.On 21 December 2012, she underwent an operation to remove a growth from her bladder.

Margaret Thatcher died on 8 April 2013 in London following a massive stroke. Her spokesman, Lord Bell, confirmed her death at 12:52 BST (11:52 UTC) by press release.

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