What Does "Iron Lady" Mean? Unbreakable Will


The 1980s British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, died from a stroke on Monday at the age of 87. She was known for a long list of accomplishments and successes. However, her uncompromising style and strong-headed nature have fueled her legacy more than anything else, and earned her the nickname she is known for most widely: the Iron Lady.

The nickname itself was coined by a Soviet journalist, stemming from her fierce determination and unyielding will. The nickname also found its roots from what is arguably one of Thatcher’s most defining moments fighting Argentina in the Falklands war in 1982.

In deciding on the war, after all mediums of diplomacy had failed and Argentina continued to invade the islands, she did not hesitate, even though top military advisors had warned her that it would likely be unfeasible for Britain to reclaim the islands. The risky military decision she made when Argentina's military junta seized the Falkland Islands from Britain led to a surging popularity for Thatcher that led to an easy reelection in 1983.  

"She simply would not allow Britain to be pushed around, particularly by military dictators," said Bernard Ingham, a British journalist and former press secretary to Lady Thatcher.

"That required enormous leadership," Ingham added. "This was a formidable undertaking, this was a risk with a capital R-I-S-K, and she demonstrated her leadership by saying she would give the military their marching orders and let them get on with it."

In her own memoir, Downing Street Years, she addressed the initial obstacles she faced while trying to dispatch a military task force to the Islands. Not only did she have to overrule her own Foreign Office specialists, but she also faced difficulty in getting support from the U.N. Security Council.

"You have to set out with an iron will to overcome them," she wrote. "And anyway what was the alternative? That a common or garden dictator should rule over the queen's subjects and prevail by fraud and violence? Not while I was prime minister."

Her success in the Falklands not only gave her the chance to own up to her nickname, but also paved the way for making the many historic reforms the Iron Lady was known for. She made significant economic structural changes within England, and although that often times lowered her popularity, she always continued to do what she believed was right, and this eventually brought England prosperity.

Lady Thatcher's nickname, the Iron Lady, may have stemmed from the Falklands war, but there was never a moment during her premiership that her actions did not measure up to the name. She truly was the Iron Lady, through and through.