Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’Thatcher dies at 87 –
Amir, Kuwait pay tribute to UK’s first woman premier
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the controversial “Iron Lady”
who dominated a generation of British politics and won international acclaim
for helping to end the Cold War, died following a stroke yesterday. She was 87.
World leaders paid tribute to Britain’s only woman prime minister, whose years
in office from 1979 to 1990 saw her take on trade unions, go to war in the
Falklands and wield her signature handbag against the European Union.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II said she was saddened by
Thatcher’s death and Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a European trip,
although mining leaders and Irish republicans said she left a bitter legacy.
Red white and blue Union flags flew at half mast over Buckingham Palace, the
Houses of Parliament and the prime minister’s Downing Street official residence
in a sign of mourning while mourners left flowers outside Thatcher’s house.
HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
sent a cable of condolences to Queen Elizabeth and Cameron, expressing deep
sympathy and sadness over the demise of Thatcher. Sheikh Sabah recalled
Thatcher’s historic and honorable stance toward Kuwait during the Iraqi
invasion in 1990, including her pivotal role in bringing together an
international coalition of more than 30 countries in support of the liberation
of Kuwait, which will always be remembered with great admiration and gratitude
by the Kuwaiti people and the world. The Amir also sent a similar cable to
Thatcher’s family, mourning her demise. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf
Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak
Al-Hamad Al-Sabah also sent similar cables.
National Assembly Speaker Ali Al-Rashed expressed
“profound sadness”. “She was a leader who was known for being one of the
biggest supporters of the legitimate rights of the people,” he said in a
statement. Rashed also noted to the late former premier’s support of Kuwait
after it was invaded by Iraq. “We recall her solid stance on this, which had a
profound effect in ushering combined international efforts to free the country
(Kuwait) from occupation, during which she said ‘this occupation will not
last’. Since that moment, she harnessed the necessary tools and capabilities to
put that historic position into practice – something the Kuwaiti people look to
with great gratitude,” he said.
“The Kuwaiti people consider the
parting of this woman, described as the ‘Iron Lady’ for her tough stances, a
great loss to them, to the free world and all who seek justice and freedom on
this planet. Kuwait remembers these positions with full respect and
admiration,” Rashed stressed. The government, in a meeting chaired by acting
prime minister and interior minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah,
expressed gratitude to Thatcher for her “solid” positions during the Iraqi
occupation of Kuwait and her rejection of the occupation. The government also
appreciated the faithful endeavors of Thatcher and her contributions that
forced ejection of Iraqi forces from the country.
Britain announced plans for a ceremonial funeral with
military honours, although it is a step short of the full state funeral of the
kind accorded to monarchs and World War II premier Winston Churchill. “It was
with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lady Thatcher. We have lost a
great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton,” Cameron said. “She didn’t just lead our country, she saved
Thatcher suffered from dementia in recent years – her
illness becoming the subject of a biographical film starring Meryl Streep – and
appeared rarely in public. She was last in hospital in December for a minor
operation to remove a growth from her bladder. The former Conservative Party
leader was the 20th century’s longest continuous occupant of Downing Street.
Right-wingers hailed Thatcher as having hauled Britain out of the economic
doldrums but the left accused her of dismantling traditional industry, claiming
her reforms helped unpick the fabric of society.
Her health worsened in the years after she was forced
out of office in 1990 and the former premier had to be repeatedly reminded that
her husband Denis had died in 2003, her daughter Carol once revealed. Thatcher
was told by doctors to quit public speaking a decade ago after a series of
minor strokes. “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced
that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this
morning,” her spokesman Lord Tim Bell said, referring to Thatcher’s children.
Bell said she died while staying at the Ritz Hotel in London.
Britain’s 86-year-old queen, who shared weekly chats
with Thatcher during her 11 years in power, was “sad to hear the news of the
death of Baroness Thatcher”, Buckingham Palace said. Downing Street said that
with the queen’s consent Thatcher would receive a “ceremonial funeral with
military honours” at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London. A date has not yet
been announced. A private cremation would follow later, it said, adding that
the arrangements were at the request of Thatcher’s family.
British newspapers reported that the former premier
had herself requested that she did not receive a state funeral, knowing that it
would prove divisive. Cameron was meanwhile flying back to London from Madrid
where he had been in talks with Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy on reforming the
European Union, while a visit to Paris to meet President Francois Hollande had
also been cancelled, Downing Street later said.
Reaction was mixed in Britain. “It’s a crying shame,
she’s a good woman,” said law firm employee Alan Whiteford in London. But David
Hopper, regional secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in
northeast England, said few tears would be shed in his industry, one of the hardest
hit by Thatcher’s policies. He said: “I’m having a drink to it (her death)
right now. It’s my 70th birthday today and it’s one of the best I’ve had in my
On the world stage, Thatcher built a close “special
relationship” with US president Ronald Reagan which helped bring the curtain
down on Soviet Communism. She also fiercely opposed closer political ties with
Europe. President Barack Obama said the United States had lost a “true friend”
and the world “one of the great champions of freedom and liberty”. German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country was divided by the Iron Curtain, said
Thatcher was an “extraordinary leader” while Hollande said she left a “profound
mark” on Britain.
Gorbachev, whose good relations with Thatcher played
a part in ending the Cold War, said she would live on in “memory and in
history”. Poland’s former president and anti-communist icon Lech Walesa said
she did a “great deal for the world”. European Commission head Jose Manuel
Barroso meanwhile hailed her “contributions” to the growth of the EU, despite
her famous reservations about continental European integration.
Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts on Oct 13,
1925 in the market town of Grantham, eastern England, the daughter of a grocer.
After grammar school and a degree in chemistry at Oxford University, she
married businessman Denis in 1951 and two years later had twins, Carol and
Mark. She was first elected to the House of Commons in 1959 and succeeded
former prime minister Edward Heath as opposition Conservative leader in 1975
before becoming premier four years later.
Her enduring legacy can be summed up as “Thatcherism”
– a set of policies which supporters say promoted personal freedom and broke
down the class divisions that had riven Britain for centuries. Pushing her
policies through pitched Thatcher’s government into a string of tough battles,
while she also had to deal with unexpected setbacks. When Argentina invaded the
remote British territory of the Falkland Islands in 1982, Thatcher dispatched
troops and ships, securing victory in two months. In 1984 Thatcher survived an
Irish Republican Army bombing.
Margaret Thatcher was vital to liberating Kuwait
April 8, 2013
Thatcher played a vital part in mobilising international support for the
liberation of Kuwait after the invasion by Saddam Hussain’s forces on August 2,
“George, this is no time to go wobbly!” Thatcher famously
admonished President George HW Bush, as she drew on her experience in launching
and winning the Falklands War in 1982.
Bush was crucially encouraged by Thatcher and started to prepare
for possible military action to free Kuwait. On August 6, both Thatcher and
Bush had led the UN Security Council to pass Resolution 661, which placed
economic sanctions on Iraq, and also authorised force in the event Iraq did not
Thatcher said that she felt “we ought to throw Saddam out so
decisively that he could never think of doing it again”.
By January 15, 2001, Iraq has refused to retreat and the massive
operation of Operation Desert Storm started the counter-invasion of
Iraqi-occupied Kuwait by 500,000 American troops and allies from Britain, the
six GCC states, and 34 other nations.
As UK Prime Minister, Thatcher had been a frequent visitor to all
the Gulf states, coming to the UAE several times when she met leaders in both
Abu Dhabi and Dubai. She held long and detailed conversations on how to
maintain and develop Britain’s joint interests with the GCC states.
But after Thatcher demonstrated her determination that Kuwait must
be liberated, she was welcomed by the Gulf for ever after as a close and valued
friend. It made little difference that she had been toppled by the Conservative
Party on November 22, 1990, on the eve of the war that she had planned with the
GCC leaders and the US. Throughout her retirement, the Gulf remembered her as
one of the main architects of the liberation of Kuwait.
David Cameron called her a "great Briton" and
the Queen spoke of her sadness at the death.
Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher has died
"peacefully" at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke while staying
at the Ritz hotel in central London.
David Cameron called her a "great Briton" and the Queen
spoke of her sadness at the death.
Lady Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990.
She was the first woman to hold the role.
She will not have a state funeral but will be accorded the same
status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.
The ceremony, with full military honours, will take place at
London's St Paul's Cathedral.
The union jack above Number 10 Downing Street has been lowered to
Mr Cameron, who is in Madrid for meetings, has cancelled planned
talks in Paris with French President Francois Hollande and will return to the
UK later on Monday.
politicians are all too often greeted with indifference, it is easy
to forget that Britain was once led by a woman who inspired passion - both love
BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Lady Thatcher had been a
controversial politician who inspired "passion" among both her
critics and supporters.
Her government privatised several state-owned industries and was
involved in a year-long stand-off with unions during the Miners' Strike of
1984-5. She was also in power when the UK fought a war following Argentina's
invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.
Lady Thatcher survived an assassination attempt in 1984, when the
IRA bombed the Brighton Grand Hotel, where she was staying for the Conservative
Party's annual conference.
During her later years in office she became increasingly associated
with Euroscepticism. She is also seen as one of the key movers behind the fall
of communism in eastern Europe.
She stood down in 1990 after she failed to beat Michael Heseltine
by enough votes to prevent his leadership challenge going into a second round.
World leaders and senior UK figures have been paying tribute to
US President Barack Obama said the world had "lost one of the
great champions of freedom and liberty" and that "America has lost a
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would "never forget
her part in surmounting the division of Europe and at the end of the Cold
Ahead of his return to the UK, Mr Cameron told the BBC:
"Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds. The real thing is she
didn't just lead our country; she saved our country.
"I believe she will go down as the greatest British peacetime
A Buckingham Palace spokesman 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."
Lady Thatcher was born Margaret Roberts, the daughter of a
shopkeeper and Conservative councillor in Grantham, Lincolnshire, in 1925.
She studied chemistry at Oxford University and worked for a
plastics company before marrying businessman Denis Thatcher in 1951.
She gave birth to twins Mark and Carol in 1953, the year she also
qualified as a barrister, and served as MP for Finchley, north London, from
1959 to 1992.
Having been education secretary, she successfully challenged former
prime minister Edward Heath for her party's leadership in 1975 and won general
elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987.