Two Ladies, one Country: the Thatcher’s years

Margaret Thatcher won the election in May 1979 and for the first time in her reign the Queen had a woman as Prime Minister.

Margareth Thatcher and her husband Denis at Downing Street

Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis at Downing Street

About the relationship between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher she said: “The Queen was the monarch and it happens that she was a perfect lady. I was a prime minister; it happened that I was a woman. But it was the monarch talking to the Prime Minister, and therefore it was the same constitutional relationship as any monarch talking to any prime minister.”

Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher

Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher was a fervent monarchist and probably she was the most devoted prime minister.

She was also a feminist and once she wrote an article: “If, as many earnestly pray, the accession of Elizabeth II can help to remove the last shreds of prejudice against women aspiring to the highest places, then a new era for women will indeed be at hand.”

One of the worst episodes in Thatcher’s goverment was the miners’ strike, which caused violence between police and protesters. The Queen was upset by the miners’ strike; she received letters from the families of them and she was touched by these.

One of the points of hostility between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher was the priority that for the Queen was the Commonwealth and for Thatcher was the United Kingdom. The African and Asian countries looked at the Prime Minister suspiciously but they liked the Queen, as President Kaunda of Zambia said:

“ Queen Elizabeth is a human being, first and foremost. Her approach to life is down to earth, very human indeed. That is how she won the love and respect of most of us black nationalists.”

In April 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, which was land of the British Empire.

Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands Islands

Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands Islands

The Parliament approved that a task force was sent to the islands. Prince Andrew, one of the sons of the Queen, was a naval helicopter pilot and he went with the army.

In June 1983 Margaret Thatcher won the election for the second time and she started with a radical restructuring of the British economy; privatization, union reform and the diminution of the welfare state.

Another problem that worried the Queen and the Prime Minister was the IRA. In October 1984, the Queen was on holiday in the United States, and the IRA blew up the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where there was the Conservative Party Conference because they wanted murder Margaret Thatcher who was there. Margaret Thatcher escaped unhurt. The Queen was seriously worried.

In the 80’s the Independent on Sunday made an opinion poll and found that 79 per cent of those polled thought the Queen should be taxed.

Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher

Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher

The Queen authorized a radical restructuring of her household. Lord Airlie, the Lord Chamberlain, engaged Peat Marwick Mclintok to take the review.

The purpose was to restablish the royal household as a strong point for an independent monarchy. This successful reform persuaded the government to reduce the money for the Civil List.

Margaret Thatcher won the election for the third time but when she lost the leadership in the Conservative Party she resined. The Queen gave her the Order of the Merit and then the Order of the Garther, these are the two highest honours that a Briton can receive.

Baroness Thatcher

Baroness Thatcher

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