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By: Julie Caponigro

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87. Her spokeswoman reported that she suffered a stroke on Monday, April 8th.  A British government source said she died at the Ritz Hotel in London.

Thatcher was born in October 1925 in eastern England. She came from a modest background in the town of Grantham. She studied chemistry at Oxford, but enjoyed involvement in politics from a young age. She gave her first political speech at 20, according to her official biography.

She was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1975. This was a remarkable feat because in that time the conservative party was in opposition. She made history four years later when the Conservatives won the elections of 1979, making her prime minister. This was the first of three elections that she won for her party.

While leading Britain, Thatcher took a firm stance with the European Community.  She demanded a rebate of money that London previously contributed to Brussels. This was a tough stance but she felt it was necessary as they were the forerunner of the European Union and the European community was the forerunner of the European Union. Her positions on other issues, both domestic and foreign, were just as firm. In one of her most famous phrases, she declared that a Conservative Party conference that she had no intention of changing her mind.

She was a towering figure in British and world politics and the only woman to become British prime minister. Her funeral will be at St. Paul’s Cathedral, with full military honors, followed by a private cremation. Thatcher served from 1975 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was fondly nicknamed the “Iron Lady” for her tough qualities. Her health has been slipping in recent years. She experienced a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that. She missed many public appearances that she was expected at in her final months. She missed a reception for her 85th birthday that was hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2010. She also missed the unveiling of a Ronald Reagan statue in London. This was particularly odd as they were old friends. In December 2012, she was hospitalized after a procedure to remove a growth in her bladder. This was one of the last times we heard of her health problems but she was reportedly not doing well.

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