TODAY   |  April 08, 2013

Margaret Thatcher, former British PM, dies at 87

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died after suffering a stroke, her spokesman said. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski and Martin Fletcher report on the life and career of the “Iron lady.”

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>>> back now at 8:00 on a monday morning, it's the 8th day of april, 2013 . sad, breaking news, margaret thatcher , britain 's first female prime minister has died. i'm matt lauer alongside hoda kotb who is in for savannah this morning.

>> thatcher died following a stroke this morning.

>> let's get to michelle kosinski in london . good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, yes, this is breaking now, we're hearing from her spokesperson saying the baroness margaret thatcher has died peacefully of a stroke. they don't say whether she was at home although it is understood she has been at home lately in london . they say a further statement will be made later. she is britain 's only female prime minister. she's the longest serving prime minister of the 20th century , serving for more than ten years between 1979 and 1990 , known as the iron lady , and for her conservative politics , she was also quite controversial during that time for reducing the power of the trade unions . so we know that she has passed away peacefully, following a stroke and that more information is coming soon. matt?

>> michelle kosinski in london thank you very much.

>>> let's get more now on the life of margaret thatcher from nbc's martin fletcher .

>> reporter: she was known as an iron lady , both loved and loathed but leaves a legacy that's beyond dispute. margaret thatcher was one of britain 's most influential politicians of the 20th century , the daughter of a grocer and dressmaker she was taught never to follow the crowd and she didn't. elected at 34 her no nonsense style and fierce ambition quickly led her up the ladder of britain 's conservative party . by age 50 she was leader.

>> the iron lady of the western world .

>> reporter: just four years later she swept the country as the world's first woman hairdo.

>> the ladies are turning.

>> reporter: consensus and compromise they say were not in her vocabulary. she won a bloody war with argentina over the falkland islands , took on britain 's powerful labor unions . in 1984 when an i.r.a. bomb killed people in a hotel where thatcher and her party were meeting she was undaunted.

>> all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.

>> reporter: thatcher transformed britain 's economy, her policy of privatization went on to be imitated by governments around the world, among her admirers, ronald reagan , who shared her politics and valued her advice. they formed a potent partnership. pressuring mikhail gorbachev to dismantle the soviet system and pursue perestroika. by 1990 , it was her fellow conservative party members who forced her out of office, unhappy with a number of her policies. she lost power but not influence. after a series of small strokes in 2004 , she honored a promise to ronald reagan and delivered a eulogy on tape at his funeral.

>> we have lost a great president, a great american, and a great man, and i have lost a dear friend.

>> reporter: 2011 movie "the iron lady " showed thatcher's decline into dementia, the highly respected grand dam of british politics struggling with the passage of the time. determined, dynamic and controversial, thatcher leaves an indelible mark on the world's political landscape.

>> once again, the headline former british prime minister baroness margaret thatcher has died at the age of 87. we started immediately going to our phones and googling and both fell on the quote we liked.

>> this is a quote i loved, "being powerful is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

>> she had a way with words.

>> she certainly did.

>> "if you want something said, ask a man. if you want something done, ask a woman."

>> of course.

>> margaret thatcher she'll be missed.