Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

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Britain's first female prime minister Margaret Thatcher has just passed away aged 87. The Iron Lady has been in and out of hospitals in the past few months, undergoing surgery just before Christmas. Baroness Thatcher's spokesman Lord Bell has confirmed that she has died this morning following a stroke and declared: "It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning. A further statement will be made later.".

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The former Prime Minister passed away peacefully in a suite at The Ritz hotel, where she has been residing since being discharged from an operation to remove a growth on her bladder in December 2012.

Saddened by the news, fellow Conservative David Cameron has declared: "We've lost a great Prime Minister, a great leader, a great Briton. She didn't just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she'll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister."

US President Barack Obama also praised the Iron Lady by saying: "She stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered. She helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best. As an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the cold war and extend freedom's promise."

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On the other hand, some didn't agree with the positive picture painted by most politicians. Reminiscent of the segregation years, South African Pallo Jordan from the African National Congress, unceremoniously declared: "I say good riddance. She was a staunch supporter of the apartheid regime. She was part of the rightwing alliance with Ronald Reagan. In the end I sat with her in her office with Nelson Mandela in 1991. We knew she had no choice. Although she called us a terrorist organisation, she had to shake hands with a terrorist and sit down with a terrorist. So who won?"

Margaret Hilda Thatcher (née Roberts) was born the 13, October 1925 in Grantham (Lincolnshire) and was raised as a strict Methodist by her father, a grocery shop owner as well as preacher in the local church. She graduated at the prestigious Oxford University in 1947, after completing a four-year Chemistry Bachelor of Science degree and specialising in X-ray crystallography. During those years her interest in political matters began to grow stronger and in 1946 she became President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. She married Denis Thatcher in 1951 and a year later she fell pregnant, giving birth to twins Carol and Mark in 1953.

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Her political career began to take off towards the end of the 1950s: she was elected as MP for the Conservative seat of Finchley and promoted to the front bench in 1961. During her time as Education Secretary, Margaret Thatcher began to antagonize the lower classes by abolishing the provvision of free milk to kids in primary school age. When the Tories lost the 1974 election, she became Leader of the Opposition. Just before being elected Conservative party leader in 1975, she gained her "Iron Lady" moniker when she strongly criticised the Soviet Union during a speech at Kensington Town Hall.

She became Britain's first female prime minister on the 4th of May 1979 and in the following years her financial policies included raising indirect taxes while savagely cutting on social services such as education and housing, introducing the poll tax, reducing the power of trade unions and privatising nationalised industries including gas, water and electricity.

She played a key-role during the cold war years by supporting former US President Ronald Reagan in his crusade against communism, and proved to be a capable war leader during the Falklands War. Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister and party leader in 1990 and was replaced by her Chancellor John Major.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL Margaret Thatcher's life in pictures - Photo Gallery

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