Thatcher faced a military challenge during her first term. In April , Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.
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This British territory had long been a source of conflict between the two nations, as the islands are located off the coast of Argentina. Taking swift action, Thatcher sent British troops to the territory to retake the islands in what became known as the Falklands War. Argentina surrendered in June In her second term, from to , Thatcher handled a number of conflicts and crises, the most jarring of which may have been the assassination attempt against her in In a plot by the Irish Republic Army, she was meant to be killed by a bomb planted at the Conservative Conference in Brighton in October.
Undaunted and unharmed, Thatcher insisted that the conference continue, and gave a speech the following day. As for foreign policy, Thatcher met with Mikhail Gorbachev , the Soviet leader, in That same year, she signed an agreement with the Chinese government regarding the future of Hong Kong.
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Publicly, Thatcher voiced her support for Reagan's air raids on Libya in and allowed U. Returning for a third term in , Thatcher sought to implement a standard educational curriculum across the nation and make changes to the country's socialized medical system. However, she lost a lot of support due to her efforts to implement a fixed rate local tax—labeled a poll tax by many since she sought to disenfranchise those who did not pay it.
Hugely unpopular, this policy led to public protests and caused dissension within her party. Thatcher initially pressed on for party leadership in , but eventually yielded to pressure from party members and announced her intentions to resign on November 22, In a statement, she said, "Having consulted widely among colleagues, I have concluded that the unity of the Party and the prospects of victory in a General Election would be better served if I stood down to enable Cabinet colleagues to enter the ballot for the leadership.
Losing the Iron Lady: A Tribute to Margaret Thatcher
I should like to thank all those in Cabinet and outside who have given me such dedicated support. Not long after leaving office, Thatcher was appointed to the House of Lords, as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, in She wrote about her experiences as a world leader and a pioneering woman in the field of politics in two books: The Downing Street Years and The Path to Power In , she published the book Statecraft , in which she offered her views on international politics.
Around this time, Thatcher suffered a series of small strokes. She then suffered a great personal loss in , when her husband of more than 50 years, Denis, died.
The following year, Thatcher had to say goodbye to an old friend and ally, Ronald Reagan. In fragile health, Thatcher gave a eulogy at his funeral via video link, praising Reagan as a man who "sought to mend America's wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world, and to free the slaves of communism. In , Thatcher celebrated her 80th birthday. A huge event was held in her honor and was attended by Queen Elizabeth II , Tony Blair and nearly other friends, family members and former colleagues.
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Two years later, a sculpture of the strong conservative leader was unveiled in the House of Commons. Thatcher's health made headlines in , when she missed a celebration at 10 Downing Street, held in honor of her 85th birthday by David Cameron. Later, in November , Thatcher spent two weeks in the hospital for a condition that was later revealed to cause painful muscle inflammation. In , she sat out such a number of major events, including the wedding of Prince William in April, and the unveiling of the Ronald Reagan sculpture in London in July.
Additionally, in July , Thatcher's office in the House of Lords was permanently closed. The closure has been seen by some to mark the end of her public life. Battling memory problems in her later years due to her strokes, Thatcher retreated from the spotlight, living in near seclusion at her home in London's Belgravia neighborhood.
Thatcher died on April 8, , at the age of She was survived by her two children, daughter Carol and son Sir Mark. Thatcher's policies and actions continue to be debated by detractors and supporters alike, illustrating the indelible impression that she has left on Britain and nations worldwide. We strive for accuracy and fairness.
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