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Breaking the ice on Margaret Thatcher

The only person who really knew Thatcher was her husband Dennis

  • By Mick O’Reilly, Senior Associate Editor
  • Published: 21:30 February 23, 2013
  • Gulf News

Margaret Thatcher
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Margaret Thatcher

Dubai: As the Iron Lady, there is a perception that Margaret Thatcher was a cold and frigid personality, unable to really love or show emotion.

But that is a public image carefully honed to enhance the power of Britain’s first female prime minister in an office where weakness was a liability.

She met and married Dennis Thatcher in 1950. He was a divorcee with a notable service record during the Second World War as an artillery officer. And he was wealthy, too, a successful businessman who was a millionaire when the couple met at a paints trade conference. She was a chemist, he a manufacturer — and there was chemistry.

It was he who financed her studies as a barrister after the birth of their twins, Mark and Carol, in August, 1953.

Dennis rarely gave interviews during his wife’s public life. He referred to her as “The Boss” when he did so.

In most areas of politics, Dennis and Margaret agreed — but they only differed when it came to the death penalty. He opposed it, believing it to be barbaric. She was a supporter but could never get enough MPs to support its re-introduction.

At state functions, Dennis charmed visiting first ladies, with he and Nancy Reagan getting on famously — almost as well as Margaret and Ronald did. They became close friends, linked by power and right-wing economic thinking and tough action when and where needed.

He liked to golf and despised the British Broadcasting Corporation. He believed his wife to be the best prime minister since Winston Churchill and despised her successor, John Major, as much as the BBC.

For 52 years the Thatchers were together. He died in June, 2003 from pancreatic cancer. It was a moment that physically and mentally broke his deeply loving and devoted spouse.

Carol is a journalist and author who has written biographies of both her parents. She is single and likes it that way. She has lived in Australia and won a recent TV reality show: ‘I’m A Celebrity – Get Me Out Of Here’. During her mother’s years in office, Carol managed to keep a relatively low profile, though some newspapers refused to carry her stories with her byline.

For Mark, having a mother a prime minister allowed him to attain panache. A career as a racing car and rally driver was fun, if nothing else.

But he has been convicted of organising a coup in equatorial Guinea and was given a four-year suspended sentence.

He has a coloured career in South Africa where his company was investigated for loan-sharking operations in handing out high interest loans to policed officers.

He has also lived in Spain. His real goal, however, it to live in the United States — an objective that’s now impossible given his guilty plea for his role in plotting the coup.

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