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    Two Fingers

    The life and times of Margaret Thatcher

    A pioneer for her sex, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister of the United Kingdom for almost 12 years. Take a look back at her life and career.

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    Apple of his eye -

    A young Margaret Roberts (she was to become Margaret Thatcher upon her marriage in 1951) gets a hug from her father, Alfred Roberts, the owner of two grocery stores in Lincolnshire, a county in northeast England. Her father, a Methodist lay preacher, was active in local politics.
    Margaret Thatcher Foundation
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    Little lady -

    The future Margaret Thatcher tucks into a meal at a friend's house in this photo taken when she was about 10 years old.
    Margaret Thatcher Foundation
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    Thatcher, then Miss Margaret Roberts, attends a garden party at Buckingham Palace.
    Central Press via Getty Images
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    The chemist -

    Thatcher studied chemistry at Oxford University, one of England's elite colleges, where she collected several degrees. Her first job after college, in 1950, was at a plastics firm. She is pictured here in January 1950, shortly after she became actively involved in politics and became a candidate for parliament. However, she was not to gain a seat in the House of Commons until 1959.
    Chris Ware / Getty Images
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    The candidate -

    Still know as Margaret Roberts -- she was to marry divorced businessman Denis Thatcher in December 1951 -- the young candidate talks to potential voters in Dartford, a town in southeast England during her unsuccessful 1951 election campaign.
    Central Press via Getty Images
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    The speaker -

    After eventually being elected to parliament in 1959, Thatcher soon made a name for herself as an effective public speaker and was particularly popular among center-righ members of the Conservative Party. Here she is seen in 1967 addressing a session of the annual party conference.
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    Climbing the ladder -

    Out of office from 1964 to 1970, Thatcher's Conservative Party eventually returned to power under the leadership of Prime Minister Edward Heath. Here, Thatcher (near center of front bench), appointed as Heath's secretary of education and science, sits with other party leaders during the opening of parliament in July 1970.
    Fox Photos / Getty Images
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    Family times -

    Thatcher and husband Denis had two children, twins Mark and Carol. Here, the family listens as she plays the piano in the early fall of 1970, just after she had become secretary of state for education and science.
    Ian Showell / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
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    Leader of the pack -

    The Conservative Party was ousted from office in early 1974 and Thatcher soon decided to mount a campaign to become its leader. To many people's surprise, she won an internal election over Edward Heath, after which she resolved to take the party to the right, especially in its embrace of monetarist policies espoused by American economist Milton Friedman. Here she is seen giving a press conference after her victory in early 1975.
    Fox Photos / Getty Images
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    'The Iron Lady' -

    In her new role as party leader, Thatcher started to focus on positioning herself to battle the rulling Labor Party at the next election. Part of this process included a focus on foreign issues, where she fiercely attacked the communist regime in the Soviet Union. Her speeches resulted in the Russians calling her "The Iron Lady." a moniker she reveled in. Here she seen making a Churchill-like victory sign outside her home in Chelsea, London, during an appearance in 1976.
    John Minihan / Evening Standard via Getty Images
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    Seeking top job -

    With the late-'70s financial crisis in full swing, Thatcher positioned herself as a tough leader who could lead the United Kingdom from the abyss. Here she looks at employment postings during a visit to a government job center in her constituency in northwest London.
    Mike Lawn / Getty Images
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    The keys to Number 10 -

    Thatcher waves as she arrives to take office at 10 Downing Street with her husband, Denis, on May 4, 1979. She was Britain's first female prime minister, and remains the only female to have held the job. “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country,” she said.
    AFP - Getty Images
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    Cuts opposed -

    Thatcher's Conservatives won the May 1979 general election, but her tough economic policies angered many. In this photo from December of that year, marchers in a National Union of Teachers demonstration protest proposed education cuts.
    Wesley / Getty Images
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    Fans' rebuke -

    Many countries, including the United States, decided they would boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Thatcher wanted Britain to join the holdouts but the British Olympic Committee voted to attend. Here, British sports fans in Moscow make their feelings clear to Thatcher.
    Central Press / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
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    Irish troubles -

    Not only did Thatcher have to deal with severe economic problems but she also faced ongoing violence in troubled Northern Ireland. Here, masked Irish Republican Army members lead the July 1981 funeral procession of hunger striker Martin Hurson, who died after 46 days of refusing nourishment.
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    Thatcher at war -

    In 1982, Thatcher's military worries became focused on a speck of land almost halfway around the world when Argentina invaded the remote Falkland Islands, a British archipelago in the South Atlantic. After American mediation attempts failed, Thatcher decided to retake the islands, a feat that was accomplished in a few weeks. Here, a line of British soldiers in camouflage advance across the islands toward the capital, Stanley. The war was a huge boost to Thatcher's popularity.
    Hulton Archive / Getty Images
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    Maggie and Ronnie -

    At the height of the Falklands crisis, Thatcher traveled to Versailles, France, for the G-7 summit of the seven most industrialized countries. Here, she chats with President Ronald Reagan during a photo opportunity. Sharing similar political and personal values, the two became close friends and allies.
    AFP - Getty Images
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    Hong Kong dilemma -

    Another big international decision for Thatcher came with negotiations over the British colony of Hong Kong, which faced the loss of land leased from China, a move that would have made the colony non-viable. In 1984, she traveled to Beijing for talks with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, meetings that resulted in a deal to hand over Hong Kong in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement.
    Pierre-antoine Donnet / AFP - Getty Images
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    The Gipper and the Iron Lady -

    Thatcher's close relationship with President Reagan led to many visits between the two leaders. Here, they ride on a golf cart during a December 1984 trip to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md.
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    Narrow escape -

    A body is stretchered out of the Grand Hotel, Brighton, after it was bombed by the Provisional IRA during the annual Conservative Party conference in October 1984. Five people were killed and dozens injured. Thatcher, who was in the hotel, situated on England's southern coast, escaped without injury.
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    Iron Lady, steel tank -

    Thatcher stands in a tank during a visit to British forces in Germany on Sept. 17, 1986.
    Jockel Fink / AP
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    An example for women -

    As one of the first female premiers, Thatcher was an example to aspiring women leaders across the world. Here she walks with Pakistan's Primie Minister Benazir Bhutto in the rose garden at Chequers, Thatcher's offical country residence, during a 1989 visit. Bhutto had been elected the previous year. She was assassinated in December 2007.
    AP File
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    Stabbed in the back? -

    Thatcher acknowledging applause from her party at the end of the Conservative conference in Blackpool on Oct. 13, 1989. Just over a year later she would be forced out of office by her own party, who were unconvinced that she could lead them to another election victory. John Major, left, eventually won the contest to succeed her.
    Johnny Eggitt / AFP - Getty Images
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    Tax troubles -

    Although the British economy made a strong turnaround during Thatcher's tenure, not all her economic policies proved popular. In particular, her push to devolve some taxation from the central government to local authorities caused much anger, leading to mass demonstrations. Here, police and protesters clash in London's Trafalgar Square in March 1990.
    Steve Eason / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
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    Tearful departure -

    Thatcher addresses the press in Downing Street after her resignation on Nov. 28, 1990. She described her time as prime minister as "eleven-and-a-half wonderful years."
    Tom Stoddart / Getty Images Contributor
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    Loyal ally -

    After leaving office in 1990, Thatcher remained as an ordinary member of parliament for a further two years. She then retired from the House of Commons and was named a life peer with the title Baroness Thatcher. Here, Lady Thatcher is seen with ex-Chilean President General Pinochet and his wife in March 1999 at their temporary residence in England, where Pinochet was under house arrest on human-rights charges. Thatcher said she was standing by the former dictator because of his help during the Falklands War.
    AFP - Getty Images
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    Husband's passing -

    In 2003 Thatcher lost her husband of 52 years, Sir Denis Thatcher, who succumbed to heart problems at age 88. Here, she looks on as his coffin is taken from The Royal Hospital Chapel in London.
    Ian Waldie / Getty Images
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    Remembering 9/11 -

    On Sept. 11, 2006, Thatcher joined Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, on the South Lawn of the White House for a memorial ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
    Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images
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    Did they coordinate? -

    In June 2007 Thatcher joined Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and wife Cherie for a service marking the 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands.
    Cathal McNaughton / AFP - Getty Images
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    Yes, that's me -

    As one of the longest-serving premiers of modern times -- she occupied 10 Downing Street for nearly 12 years -- Thatcher was the recipent of many honors. Here she joins former government colleagues, including her successor, John Major (right foreground) at the 2007 unveiling of a bronze statue of herself inside the Houses of Parliament. She was the first living ex-prime minister to be honored in such a way.
    Johnny Green / AFP - Getty Images
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    The prince and the pensioners -

    In March 2009 Thatcher was on hand at the opening of the new Margaret Thatcher Infirmary at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. She is seen here with Prince Charles and a group of Chelsea Pensioners, former members of the British military.
    Andrew Winning / WPA Pool via Getty Images
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    Home from the hospital -

    Thatcher waves from the front door of her London home in June 2009 after returning from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital following an operation on a broken arm. The former prime minister had a metal pin placed in her shoulder after suffering a fall at home.
    Oli Scarff / Getty Images
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    Conservatives in charge again -

    The latest Conservative Party prime minister, David Cameron, who took office in May 2010, greets Thatcher on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street in June of the same year.
    Oli Scarff / Getty Images
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    History-maker -

    Baroness Margaret Thatcher died following a stroke on April 8, 2013. She was 87. "Today is a truly sad day for our country," Prime Minister David Cameron said. "We’ve lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.”
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