Margaret Thatcher and My 11-Year-Old

In April of 1982, Great Britain went to war with Argentina, over a few islands claimed by both nations. The Falkland Islands War lasted 74 days, and ended with a British victory.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher led her nation to that military victory.

Three months later, in the fall of 1982, my second daughter, Krystsl, was born.

Eleven years later the two of them finally met.

It was a gray, chilly and rainy Saturday in November, 1993 in Washington, D.C. when I met Margaret Thatcher.

I have to admit, I was in awe of the leader known the world over as “The Iron Lady.”

Margaret Thatcher
Photo: Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Founda

She’d written the first volume of her memoirs, a hefty book called “The Downing Street Years.”

“I was at Downing Street for eleven and a half years. They were exciting years. They were years when we restored Britain’s economy we restored her reputation in the world, we were instrumental in helping bring the Cold War to an end. The reunification of Germany happened in that time, which affected Europe very much. They really were astonishing years.”

By the way, it was actually the old Soviet Union’s official new s agency Tass that first used the term “Iron Lady”

“I think it was a right description! I had to be. It’s interesting, it was a description that was applied to me before I came into government. I’d made a very firm speech about the need for strong defensed against the Soviet Union. And they dubbed me the ‘Iron Lady.’ I think they, perhaps, got it right.”

Thatcher was a close friend and political ally of President Ronald Reagan — and she was very proud of what they were able to accomplish:

“Had we said at the beginning — for example, when Ron Reagan won the election in 1980 and I in 1979 — look, we’re going to be so firm and we think we’ll get to know what makes Russia tick, that in ten years, eleven or twelve years, you will see whole of Russia, the whole part of the Soviet Union collapses, and the Cold War come to an end, East European nations be free, people would have looked at us and said, you’re scatty! But it happened.”

And, like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher had a sharp wit:

I said, “In your book, you do explain that you had a wonderful retort for those who asked you all th male interviewers that you are not still getting that question on this book tour.”

“No,” she replied. “I haven’t had it at all. I said in answer to that question, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t experienced the alternative.”ose years what it felt like to be a woman prime minister. I hope, on behalf of my fellow American

Margaret Thatcher was also keenly aware of the history that surrounded her every day she went to work:

And I used to sometimes walk around it with American visitors, very conscious that some wrong decisions had been taken in that house with regard to the colonies. And I used to say to some of my visitors, you know, if there had been a woman then, in 1776, I’m sure it would have been handled ver much better than it was, and all of history might have been changed.

Now, let me tell you about that meeting between Margaret Thatcher and my daughter Krystal.

I always felt that it was a valuable experience for both of my daughters — Krissie and her older sister Jennie — for me to bring them with me on certain days when I was going to meet an important personality. They’ve met Jimmy Carter and Dan Rather and Alex Trebek and William Shatner. I’ll tell the story of Reba McEntire someday soon here on Now I’ve Heard Everything.

So on that gray rainy Saturday, Krissie and I arrived at DC’s historic Henley Park Hotel. We made our way upstairs to Mrs. Thatcher’s suite, and the introductions were made. Mrs. Thatcher was genuinely pleased to meet my 11 year old and greeted her with a warm smile.

Now, my mistrust of the batteries in my cassette recorder led to one of the most magical moments of my life.

The whole concept of battery power is so you don’t have to plug in a device. But because I didn’t want to take any chance of losing this very important interview, I wanted to plug it into a wall socket.

The Henley Park is an old historic hotel, and finding an outlet proved a little more challenging than I had expected. I finally found one behind some heavy drapes.

And as I turned back around, I saw Mrs. Thatcher, engaged in sweet conversation with Krissie. Picture this: the Prime Minister, the Iron Lady, bent slightly at the waist as she leans gently forward to engage with my daughter.

Krystal Thompson, age 11

Krissie now recalls: “I was so in awe of what was happening, and the fact that person was real in front of me. You kind of talked her up. When you told me she was a prime minister, I’m like, I don’t know what that means. So I didn’t understand the level of her until I saw all these people, like the things in their ears and everything. I’m like, this is weird. I was probably just too shocked to even remember what she said.”

Now, a few years later, when she was in high school, Krissie had occasion to tell the story:

“They brought up Margaret Thatcher, and I said, I’ve met her. And they’re like, no you didn’t! And the teacher was like, no you .. we need to get back to class. And I kept laughing, no, I really did [meet her]. The teacher was like, you need to stop. This is inappropriate. Then later on, after they realized .. there was no Google back then, but word got around. I guess maybe Mom talked to someone who talked o someone, and everyone after that was like, You’ve met famous people?! But, yeah, I got in trouble for meeting Margaret Thatcher!”

Oh, and one more thing — that was the day Krissie launched her own inyerviewing career. She interviewed me:

My only regret from that day? I didn’t bring a camera. But in 1993, nobody was doing selfies.

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