Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister on May 4 1979.
After Edward Heath appoints Thatcher as Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1970, Thatcher’s stock rises dramatically in UK politics. In 1975, she successfully defeats Heath in her bid to become the Conservative Party leader (and, by extension, Leader of the Opposition). In so doing, Thatcher becomes the first woman to lead a major political party in the UK. In 1979, Thatcher’s Conservatives win the general election and she becomes Prime Minister.
A prominent figure in the history of UK politics not only for her what her appointment meant for gender equality, but for her strength of character and her policymaking, she remains divisive to this day. Her uncompromising approach to politics earns her the nickname ‘The Iron Lady’ and, regardless of one’s political affiliations, it is impossible to argue that Thatcher was not influential.
In 1999, Time magazine lists Thatcher as one of its ‘100 most important people of the 20th century’ and in 2002 the BBC ranks her at 16 on a poll of the ‘100 greatest Britons’.
On April 17 2013, Baroness Thatcher is laid to rest at St. Paul’s Cathedral after suffering a fatal stroke on April 8.