Former British Prime Minister and political figure Margaret Thatcher passed away today at the age of 87.
The British politician, who was the first woman to become British prime minister, was the subject of the film The Iron Lady, a nickname which was given to her by a Soviet journalist because of her tough personality.
She was portrayed in that 2011 biopic by Meryl Streep, who eventually won an Oscar for depicting the longest-serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century (1979-90). In an extended statement, Streep said, "Margaret Thatcher was a pioneer, willingly or unwillingly, for the role of women in politics. It is hard to imagine a part of our current history that has not been affected by measures she put forward in the U.K. at the end of the 20th century. Her hard-nosed fiscal measures took a toll on the poor, and her hands-off approach to financial regulation led to great wealth for others. There is an argument that her steadfast, almost emotional loyalty to the pound sterling has helped the U.K. weather the storms of European monetary uncertainty.
"But to me she was a figure of awe for her personal strength and grit," continues the Oscar winner. "To have come up, legitimately, through the ranks of the British political system, class bound and gender phobic as it was, in the time that she did and the way that she did, was a formidable achievement. To have won it, not because she inherited position as the daughter of a great man, or the widow of an important man, but by dint of her own striving. To have withstood the special hatred and ridicule, unprecedented in my opinion, leveled in our time at a public figure who was not a mass murderer; and to have managed to keep her convictions attached to fervent ideals and ideas – wrongheaded or misguided as we might see them now – without corruption; I see that as evidence of some kind of greatness, worthy for the argument of history to settle. To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was groundbreaking and admirable.
Streep concludes, "I was honored to try to imagine her late life journey, after power; but I have only a glancing understanding of what her many struggles were, and how she managed to sail through to the other side. I wish to convey my respectful condolences to her family and many friends."
Current British Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to the news via Twitter.
It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We have lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister, and a great Briton.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) April 8, 2013
The BBC reports that Baroness Thatcher's death was the result of a stroke.
The Grantham, England native, who was born Margaret Hilda Roberts, originally retired for her public life in 2002 after suffering a stroke.
She had also suffered a series of strokes in the years that followed and was hospitalized last December to remove a growth in her bladder.