Margaret Thatcher, the steely, red-headed Iron lady who became Britain's first female prime minister and its longest serving of the 20th century, died Monday from an apparent stroke. She was 87.
Thatcher's death, reported by The Associated Press, was confirmed by her longtime spokeman, Lord Timothy Bell.
"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," Bell said.
Thatcher, known affectionately as "Maggie," was a mammoth figure on the world stage, exploding into British politics at the young age of 34 as the first female elected to British parliament and rising to prime minister in 1979.
Leading Britain's Conservative Party, Thatcher won the nickname of the Iron Lady for her steadfast commitment to fighting Communism, shrinking government spending and pursuing economic freedom.
Her rise to Britain's top job closely tracked that of her friend across the Atlantic, Ronald Reagan, and the two dominated the 1980s world stage while the Soviet Union they reviled began to crumble.