Margaret Thatcher dies at age 87

World leaders respond to death of U.K.’s first female prime minister

Margaret Thatcher, in fashion at last

Peter Turnley/Corbis

Margaret Thatcher, in fashion at last
Peter Turnley/Corbis

Margaret Thatcher, the United Kingdom’s first female prime minister, had died at age 87.

A spokesperson for the former prime minister said she died after suffering a stroke. Prior to that, Thatcher had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for years.

Thatcher served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and led the Conservative party to three victories, which was “the longest continuous period in office by a British prime minister since the early 19th century,” writes Reuters.

“It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning,” said a statement released to BBC News by Lord Bell, a spokesperson for Thatcher who was her former adviser.

Prime Minister David Cameron released a statement upon news of Thatcher’s death, saying: “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.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesman also released a message, saying: “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 a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, called Thatcher “a giant among leaders.” The prime minister wrote that Thatcher achieved greatness on the world stage:

“Along with the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, and His Holiness Pope John Paul II, she played a key role in the fall of the USSR. The era of peace and prosperity that followed the end of the Cold War must therefore rank as one of her great and lasting gifts to this generation. Lady Thatcher’s leadership in time of conflict and during the generous peace she helped bring forth, was an example to the world. As a result, millions now live with the dignity and freedom that she envisioned for them, during the darkest moments of the post-war years. She well deserved to be known as ‘The Iron Lady.”

Thatcher’s divisive nature was evident online. The death of the champion of free markets and small government was both celebrated and mourned on social media.

Thatcher will receive the same funeral honours as the Queen Mother and Princess Diana, but she will not lie in state, reports BBC News.