Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Life In Pictures

Margaret with Sister, Muriel
Margaret with Sister, Muriel

Then U.S. President Ronald Reagan drives then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher toward their meeting in Camp David in this November 15, 1986 file photo, after her arrival by helicopter from Washington. Thatcher and Reagan spearheaded the neoconservative movement and are considered its major figures today.

This is a 1980 file photo showing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In this Dec. 15, 1984 file photo, Mikhail S. Gorbachev poses with Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in London. A staunch opponent of communism and socialism, Thatcher famously quipped of Gorbachev: “I like Mr. Gorbachev. I can work with him.”

Then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher points skyward as she receives standing ovation at Conservative Party Conference in this October 13, 1989 file photo. In 1984 Thatcher survived an assasination attempt by the IRA at the conference, and was praised for delivering her speech as planned the next day.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Falklands veterans take part in a march in London, during a service to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falkland Islands conflict in this June 17, 2007 file photo. Thatcher’s successful handling of Falklands’ crisis in 1982 made her a hero to many.

Margaret Thatcher and French President Francois Mitterrand talk to the media before a meeting at the Chateau de Benouville in Normandy in this March 23, 1987 file photo. Thatcher’s refusal to join the European Exchange Mechanism in the 1980s and 90s eventually made her unpopular within her own party and led to her political downfall.

In this June 12, 1987 file photo, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher waves to supporters from Conservative Party headquarters in London after claiming victory in Britain’s general election. Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister in 1990 under pressure from her party. She was the UK’s longest serving prime minister.


October 13 Margaret Roberts born in Grantham, Lincolnshire


Reads chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford, later becoming president of the Oxford University Conservative Association

January 31 Selected as the Conservative candidate for Dartford, the youngest woman candidate in the country, but is defeated in 1950 and 1951 elections


December 13 Marries Denis Thatcher


August 15 Gives birth to twins, Mark and Carol

December 1 Qualifies as a barrister


October 8 Enters Parliament as the MP for Finchley, having won the seat by 16,260 votes


October 9 Appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary (Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance)


Moves to become shadow housing and land spokesperson


April 19 Moves to shadow spokesperson in Treasury as deputy to Iain Macleod


October 10 Appointed to Shadow Cabinet, responsible for fuel and power


November 14 Moves to shadow transport as spokesperson


October 21 Appointed shadow education spokesperson


February 10 Alfred Roberts, Margaret Thatcher’s father, dies

June 19 Appointed Secretary of State for Education and Science in newly elected Conservative Government


August 9 Internment introduced in Northern Ireland.

September A proposal to end free school milk for over-sevens leads to the nickname ‘milk snatcher’


January 9 Miners’ strike begins

January 30 ‘Bloody Sunday’: British troops kill 13 in Londonderry

March 24 Stormont suspended; direct rule begins in Northern Ireland


January 1 UK joins the European Community

March 6 Budget introduces VAT, at 10 per cent

October 6 Arab-Israeli War (ends October 24); oil price increased by 70 per cent

November 12 National Union of Miners overtime ban begins; State of Emergency the following day

December 13 Three-day week announced


February 5 National Union of Miners strike ballot: 81 per cent in favour

February 10 Miners’ strike begins (ends March 11)

February 28 General election: no overall majority for any party

August 9 President Richard Nixon resigns over Watergate

October 5 IRA bomb two pubs in Guildford: five killed, 65 wounded

October 10 General election: Labour win (majority of three)

November 7 Reshuffle of Shadow Cabinet: assists Robert Carr on Treasury questions

November 21 Mrs Thatcher decides to stand for Conservative Party leadership


February 11 Elected Leader of the Conservative Party after challenging Edward Heath

April 30 Fall of Saigon, Vietnam

June 5 European Common Market referendum: 67.2 per cent for; 32.8 per cent against (64 per cent turnout)

November 27 Ross McWhirter murdered by IRA after putting up reward for capture of bombers; Mrs Thatcher given 24-hour police protection


January 24 A Soviet newspaper attacks the ‘Iron Lady’, establishing her nickname

February 19 Iceland breaks off diplomatic relations with UK over ‘cod war’

March 16 Harold Wilson announces his resignation as prime minister (succeeded April 5 by James Callaghan)

May 10 Jeremy Thorpe resigns as Liberal leader over Norman Scott affair

September 28 Sterling crisis: Denis Healey turns back from Heathrow as IMF called in

November 2 Jimmy Carter elected US President


February 6 Queen’s Silver Jubilee

March 23 Lib-Lab pact negotiated between David Steel and James Callaghan

June 13 Mass picketing begins in dispute at Grunwick film processing laboratories, north London

November 19 Egypt/Israeli accord: Anwar Sadat visits Jerusalem.


May 25 David Steel announces end of Lib-Lab pact


January 3 Lorry drivers’ strike begins; Winter of Discontent at peak

January 22 One million local authority workers’‘Day of Action’

February 1 Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile to Iran

March 1 Devolution referendums in Scotland and Wales: devolution defeated

March 30 Tory MP Airey Neave murdered by INLA in House of Commons car-park

April 23 Death of protester Blair Peach at Anti-Nazi League demonstration in Southall, London

May 3 General election: Conservative victory (43 majority)

May 4 Margaret Thatcher becomes the UK’s first female prime minister

June 18 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II signed by Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev

July 1 First Sony Walkman goes on sale

July 16 Iraqi President Hassan al-Bakr resigns, replaced by Saddam Hussein

August 9 First British nudist beach established in Brighton

August 14 Freak storm during the Fastnet Race results in the death of 15 sailors

August 27 IRA murders Earl Mountbatten at Mullaghmore, Co Sligo

September 10 Lancaster House Conference on Rhodesian independence opens (ends December 21)

November 4 US embassy in Tehran occupied by students demanding extradition of Shah from US

December 24 USSR invades Afghanistan


February 13 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid open; Robin Cousins wins gold for figure skating

April 2 Race riots in St Pauls, Bristol

April 18 Zimbabwe gains independence; Robert Mugabe becomes prime minister

May 5 SAS storms Iranian embassy in London to end siege after takeover by Iranian Arab separatists

July 19 Summer Olympics open in Moscow, boycotted by 65 countries following USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan; Sebastian Coe (1500m), Steve Ovett (800m), Daley Thompson (decathlon) and Allan Wells (100m) win gold medals

September 22 Iran-Iraq war begins

October 3 Housing Act provides people with ‘right to buy’ their council houses at reduced rate

October 5 British Leyland launches its Metro car, designed as eventual replacement for the Mini

October 10 Mrs Thatcher’s ‘The lady’s not for turning’ speech at the Conservative Party Conference in response to criticism of economic policies

October 27 First IRA hunger strike in Northern Ireland begins

November 4 Ronald Reagan elected US President

November 21 The ‘Who shot JR?’ episode of the soap opera Dallas shown in the US

December 8 John Lennon shot dead in New York by Mark Chapman


January 4 Peter Sutcliffe, Yorkshire Ripper, arrested

January 25 Four former Labour cabinet ministers (Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and David Owen) issue the Limehouse Declaration, leading to formation of the Social Democratic Party

February 13 Rupert Murdoch buys The Times and The Sunday Times for £12 million

March 30 Ronald Reagan shot and wounded in Washington DC by John Hinckley Jr

April 4 Bucks Fizz win the Eurovision Song Contest with Making Your Mind Up

April 9 IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands elected an MP

April 12 Space Shuttle Columbia launched, returning to Earth on April 14

May 5 Bobby Sands dies

May 8 Ken Livingstone becomes leader of the Greater London Council (GLC)

May 13 Turk Mehmet Ali Aca shoots and wounds Pope John Paul II

June 13 Marcus Sarjeant fires six blank shots at the Queen at Trooping the Colour ceremony

July 4 Toxteth riot breaks out in Liverpool following tension between black community and police; riots in Moss Side, Manchester

July 29 Wedding of the Prince of Wales and Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral

August 1 MTV launches

October 10 IRA bombs Chelsea Barracks

November 12 Church of England General Synod votes to admit women to holy orders

November 26 Crosby by-election: Shirley Williams wins Conservative seat for SDP

December 11 Muhammad Ali loses his last fight to Trevor Berbick

December 13 Martial law imposed in Poland and Solidarity suppressed


January 1 Central Independent Television, Television South and Television South West replace ATV, Southern Television and Westward Television

January 11 Mark Thatcher disappears in the Sahara during the Paris-Dakar Rally (rescued January 14)

February 5 Laker Airways collapses with debts of £270 million

February 19 The DeLorean Motor Company factory in Belfast is put into receivership

March 29 Chariots of Fire wins best picture Oscar; screenwriter Colin Welland announces, ‘The British are coming’

April 2 Argentina invades and occupies the Falkland Islands. Task force leaves Portsmouth three days later

May 2 Nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror sinks the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano

June 14 Argentine surrender in the Falklands

June 19 ‘God’s Banker’, Roberto Calvi, found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge, London

June 21 Prince William is born at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington

July 20 IRA bombs Hyde Park and Regent’s Park

October 11 The Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship, which sank in the Solent in 1545, is raised

October 13 The Ford Sierra is launched in Europe, replacing the Ford Cortina

November 2 Channel 4, the fourth terrestrial television channel, is launched; first programme broadcast is the game show Countdown

November 10 Leonid Brezhnev dies, succeeded as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union by Yuri Andropov

November 30 Michael Jackson releases Thriller, now the biggest-selling album of all time.


January 17 First British breakfast television programme, Breakfast Time, broadcast by the BBC

March 23 Reagan announces Star Wars programme

April 11 Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough, wins eight Oscars

April 21 The £1 coin introduced in England and Wales

May 6 Stern magazine publishes the ‘Hitler Diaries’ (later found to be forgeries)

June 9 General election: Mrs Thatcher wins with a majority of 144

June 14 David Owen succeeds Roy Jenkins as leader of the Social Democratic Party

September 1 Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shot down by a Soviet fighter after entering Soviet airspace

September 25 38 IRA prisoners escape from the Maze prison in Co Antrim, the largest prison escape in UK history

October 2 Neil Kinnock succeeds Michael Foot as Labour Party leader

October 7 Plan to abolish the Greater London Council is announced

October 14 Cecil Parkinson resigns as Trade and Industry Secretary over his affair with Sara Keays

October 23 Suicide truck-bombings destroy French and US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut

November 4 Serial killer Dennis Nilsen sentenced to life imprisonment

November 14 Cruise missiles arrive at Greenham Common, Berkshire, despite protests by the Women’s Peace Camp

November 26 Gold bars worth nearly £26 million stolen from the Brink’s-MAT vault at Heathrow Airport

December 17 IRA bombs Harrods


January 24 Steve Jobs unveils the Apple Macintosh computer

February 7 Opening of Winter Olympics in Sarajevo at which Torvill and Dean win ice-dancing gold

February 9 Yuri Andropov dies; succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko

March 12 Miners’ strike begins, after closure of 20 pits. The year-long action is characterised by violent clashes between strikers and police

April 15 Comedian Tommy Cooper dies on live TV

April 17 Libyan Embassy siege begins after murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher

June 20 Sir Keith Joseph, the Education Secretary, announces O-level and CSE exams to be replaced by the GCSE

July 28 Olympics open in LA, boycotted by 14 Eastern Bloc countries; Carl Lewis wins four gold medals, Steve Redgrave his first and Daley Thompson and Sebastian Coe their second

September 15 Prince Harry born

September 26 The UK and China sign initial agreement to return Hong Kong to China in 1997

October 12 IRA bombs Grand Hotel Brighton during Tory party conference, intending to kill Mrs Thatcher

October 23 Michael Buerk reports for BBC on famine in Ethiopia

October 31 Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi assassinated by her Sikh security guards

November 6 Ronald Reagan re-elected US President

November 20 Flotation of British Telecom

November 29 Band Aid single Do They Know It’s Christmas? released

December 3 Leak from Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, kills thousands

December 16 Mrs Thatcher meets Mikhail Gorbachev for the first time and declares, ‘We can do business together’


January 14 Sterling falls to $1.11; interest rates rise 1.5 per cent to 14 per cent

February 11 Clive Ponting acquitted of breaching Official Secrets Act in sending General Belgrano documents to MP Tam Dalyell

February 19 EastEnders begins on BBC1

March 3 National Union of Miners votes to end year-long strike

March 11 Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party

May 11 Bradford City football stadium fire kills 56

May 29 38 spectators killed in rioting on the terraces before European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus at Heysel Stadium in Brussels

July 4 Ruth Lawrence, 13, achieves a first in mathematics at Oxford University

July 13 Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia raise more than £50 million for famine relief in Ethiopia

September 9 Two days of rioting in Handsworth suburb of Birmingham; two dead

September 28 Brixton race riots are sparked by the shooting of Dorothy ‘Cherry’ Groce by the Metropolitan Police

October 2 Actor Rock Hudson dies, one of first celebrities to die of Aids-related illness

October 6 Broadwater Farm riot; murder of PC Keith Blakelock

October 7 Cruise ship Achille Lauro hijacked in the Mediterranean by Palestinian terrorists; American passenger Leon Klinghoffer is killed

November 15 Anglo-Irish Agreement signed at Hillsborough Castle by Mrs Thatcher and Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald


January 9 Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine resigns in row over Westland helicopter company; he favoured European rescue

January 24 Leon Brittan resigns as Trade and Industry Secretary over Westland affair

January 28 Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates after launch, killing crew of seven

February 15 Violence at Rupert Murdoch’s News International plant in Wapping following strike by print workers

February 17 Single European Act signed, setting EC objective of establishing a single market by end of 1992

March 4 Today newspaper launched

April 15 US air raids on Libya, mainly flown from British bases, following bombing of a Berlin disco

April 17 British journalist John McCarthy kidnapped in Beirut (released in August 1991)

April 26 Chernobyl disaster, Ukraine: the worst nuclear power plant accident in history

May 30 John Stalker, deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, suspended over allegations he consorted with criminals; cleared and reinstated in August

June 22 England lose to Argentina in World Cup quarter-final; Diego Maradona scores ‘hand of God’ goal

July 20 Reports of rift between Mrs Thatcher and the Queen, principally over South Africa: the Queen said to fear break-up of Commonwealth following Mrs Thatcher’s rejection of sanctions

July 23 Prince Andrew, Duke of York, marries Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey

July 24 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh; 32 nations boycott over South Africa

October 7 The Independent newspaper launched with the slogan ‘It is. Are you?’

October 27 City of London ‘Big Bang’: deregulation of the financial markets

November 12 Ronald Reagan admits US had sold arms to Iran

November 17 Government seeks injunction to prevent sale of Spycatcher, the autobiography of ex-MI5 officer Peter Wright, in Australia

November 26 Mike Tyson becomes the youngest heavyweight boxing champion of the world aged 20, beating Trevor Berbick

December 3 Flotation of British Gas, backed by ‘If you see Sid, tell him’ ads


January 20 Church of England envoy Terry Waite kidnapped in Lebanon trying to free hostages including John McCarthy

February 11 British Airways privatised

March 6 Roll-on, roll-off ferry Herald of Free Enterprise sinks off Zeebrugge; 187 killed

April 27 Independent publishes extracts from Spycatcher

May 28 West German pilot Mathias Rust, 19, lands a private plane in Red Square, Moscow

June 11 General election: Mrs Thatcher wins record third term in office with reduced majority of 102

June 12 During a visit to Berlin, President Reagan challenges Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall

July 11 World population reaches five billion, according to the United Nations

August 19 Michael Ryan shoots and kills 16 people in Hungerford, Berkshire

October 16 ‘The Great Storm’: hurricane-force winds hit southern England, despite earlier reassurance by weatherman Michael Fish

October 19 ‘Black Monday’: stock markets around the world crash

October 23 Jockey Lester Piggott jailed for three years after being convicted of tax evasion

October 31 French and Irish intercept huge IRA arms shipment from Libya aboard MV Eksund

November 8 IRA bombs Enniskillen remembrance service; 11 killed

November 18 King’s Cross Underground fire kills 31 people

December 9 England cricket team’s tour of Pakistan threatened when captain Mike Gatting and umpire Shakoor Rana argue during a Test match

December 25 More than 26 million watch Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) make her last appearance in ITV’s Coronation Street


January 3 Margaret Thatcher becomes longest-serving British prime minister of 20th century

March 3 SDP merges with the Liberal Party to create the Social and Liberal Democratic Party; its interim leaders are David Steel and Robert Maclennan

March 7 Operation Flavius: the SAS fatally shoots three unarmed Provisional IRA members in Gibraltar

March 15 Budget cuts higher rate of income tax to 40 per cent

March 16 Lt Col Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the US in the Iran-Contra Affair

March 24 Mordechai Vanunu sentenced to 18 years in prison for disclosing Israel’s nuclear programme to The Sunday Times

April 11 The Last Emperor, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, wins nine Oscars

May 24 Section 28, outlawing promotion of homosexuality in schools, passed into law

July 6 Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea destroyed by explosions and fires, killing 165 oil workers and two rescuers

July 16 Paddy Ashdown elected as first leader of the Social and Liberal Democrats

July 18 Paul Gascoigne becomes UK’s first £2 million footballer in move from Newcastle United to Tottenham Hotspur

July 29 Education Reform Act introduces grant-maintained schools and national curriculum

August 20 Iran-Iraq War ends, with an estimated one million lives lost

October 19 Broadcasting ban imposed on terrorists and apologists; BBC uses professional actors’ voices

November 8 George HW Bush elected US President, defeating Michael Dukakis

November 30 Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co buys RJR Nabisco for $25 billion in the biggest leveraged buyout deal of all time

December 2 Benazir Bhutto becomes prime minister of Pakistan, the first woman to head the government of an Islam- dominated state

December 5 British Steel flotation

December 12 Clapham rail crash; 34 killed

December 16 Health minister Edwina Currie resigns after stating that most of the UK’s egg production is infected with salmonella

December 21 Pan Am Flight 103 is blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people


February 5 Sky Television begins first satellite TV service in the UK

February 14 Protests after Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini encourages Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses

February 15 Soviet Union announces that all of its troops have left Afghanistan

March 24 Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels of oil after running aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska

April 1 New local government tax, the ‘poll tax’, introduced in Scotland

April 15 96 Liverpool supporters die in the Hillsborough, Sheffield, stadium disaster

June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, China

August 20 Marchioness pleasure boat collides with a dredger on the Thames, killing 51

September 22 IRA bombs the Royal Marine School of Music in Deal, Kent, killing 11

October 19 The Guildford Four are freed after 14 years

October 26 Nigel Lawson resigns as Chancellor over ERM, which was opposed by Mrs Thatcher’s economic adviser Alan Walters; succeeded by John Major

November 9 Fall of the Berlin Wall: East Germany opens checkpoints allowing its citizens to travel to West Germany

November 21 The House of Commons is televised live for the first time

November 28 Mrs Thatcher challenged for party leadership by pro-European ‘stalking horse’ Sir Anthony Meyer

December 5 Mrs Thatcher wins leadership election by 314 to 33

December 17 First episode of The Simpsons shown

December 25 Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, are executed by military troops after being found guilty of crimes against humanity

December 29 Václav Havel elected president of Czechoslovakia


February 11 Nelson Mandela released from Victor Verster Prison, near Cape Town, after 27 years behind bars

February 15 The UK and Argentina restore diplomatic relations after eight years

March 31 Protest in Trafalgar Square turns into a riot, a week before Community Charge due to be introduced

April 24 The Hubble Space Telescope is launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

May 19 Agriculture minister John Gummer feeds a hamburger to his five-year-old daughter to counter rumours about the spread of CJD

June 24 Kathleen Young and Irene Templeton ordained in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, the first Anglican women priests in the UK

July 4 England’s footballers lose to West Germany in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals of the Italia ’90 World Cup

July 14 Trade and Industry Secretary Nicholas Ridley resigns following interview in The Spectator in which he likens the EU to Hitler’s Germany

July 30 IRA car bomb kills Tory MP Ian Gow outside his home in East Sussex

August 2 Iraq invades Kuwait, leading to the Gulf War

October 3 East Germany and West Germany reunify into a single Germany

October 8 Pound joins ERM

November 1 Deputy Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe resigns over Mrs Thatcher’s stance on Europe

November 13 Howe’s resignation speech

November 14 Michael Heseltine challenges for Tory Party leadership

November 20 Leadership election first ballot (Thatcher 204, Heseltine 152)

November 22 Mrs Thatcher announces she will not contest the second ballot. Falls from power after 11 years as prime minister

November 27 Leadership election second ballot; John Major becomes leader

November 28 Margaret Thatcher leaves Downing Street for the last time. [The Telegraph, Reuters,GN,AP]