Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady" who dominated British politics for two decades, died on Monday following a stroke, a spokesman for her family said. She was 87.
Britain's only woman prime minister, the tough, outspoken Thatcher, led the Conservatives to three election victories, governing from 1979 to 1990, the longest continuous period in office by a British prime minister since the early 19th century.
"It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher's death," Prime Minister David Cameron said. "We've lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton."
Thatcher died peacefully on Monday morning, said Lord Tim Bell, a spokesman for the Thatcher family.
"It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning," Bell said.
A grocer's daughter with a steely resolve, she became loved and loathed in equal measure as she crushed the unions and privatised vast swathes of British industry.
Thatcher's economic policies emphasized deregulation and privatization of national industries. Her initial years of public support waned as the British economy flagged. But it rebounded with the Falklands War in 1982.
As The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time, Thatcher was ready for a fight.
"Although Mrs. Thatcher in her opening address to Parliament was unwilling to discuss the details of the American peace plan, she declared that it ''inevitably bears the hallmarks of a compromise.''
She added, ''The crisis was started by Argentina invading the Falklands and it can only be settled by an immediate withdrawal of Argentine troops.''