On May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher was sworn in as the first female prime minister of Great Britain. Known to many as the Iron Lady, she was the longest-serving prime minister in the 20th century. Here are five things you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher…
She Was Instrumental in Developing Soft-Serve Ice Cream Every time you get soft-serve ice cream, you can thank the Iron Lady herself. Before moving into politics, Thatcher was a food scientist who had studied chemistry. At one point, she and other scientists worked on a project to add air to ice cream, which would produce a product with fewer ingredients to save companies money. The result was a softer ice cream with the consistency of whipped topping. The product became known in the UK as Mr. Whippy.
She WasThe Longest-Serving British Prime Minister of The 20th Century
Thatcher was first elected as prime minister in 1979, reelected in 1983 and again in 1987. Following divisions in the party regarding the European Community and a poll tax, she resigned as both prime minister and Conservative leader in 1990. When she left office, she had served 11 years and 209 days, which was the longest a Prime Minister has served during the 20th century. The longest service by a British Prime Minister during its history was that of Sir Robert Walpole, who was in the office for 20 years, 314 days.
Sir Laurence Olivier Was Partially Responsible For Her Rise to Power Months before the 1979 general election, Thatcher adviser Gordon Reece was worried that voters would find Thatcher’s natural speaking voice too shrill. By chance, he encountered Sir Laurence Olivier on a train, and the master thespian recommended his voice coach from London’s National Theater. Together, they worked to modify the timbre of her voice and lower it. As a result, the Prime Minister’s voice became 46 hertz lower in pitch, which is about halfway between female and male vocal ranges. Thatcher's new authoritative tone would serve her well in her political career.
Margaret Thatcher Day is Celebrated Annually in The Falkland Islands
In April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a sparsely populated British colony in the south Atlantic claimed by both countries. The result was a two-month battle that saw the UK retain control over the area. As a tribute to Thatcher, every January 10, the Falkland Islands celebrates Margaret Thatcher Day to commemorate the anniversary of her triumphant 1983 visit to the colony.
She Was Once Known as “Thatcher, The Milk Snatcher" Before a Soviet newspaper dubbed her the “Iron Lady” following a strident anti-Communist speech she delivered in 1976, Thatcher was known by a less complimentary nickname. While serving as secretary of education in 1970, she ended a free milk program for schoolchildren between the ages of 7 and 11 in order to meet the Conservative government’s pledge to cut spending. Political opponents and the media labeled her “Thatcher, the Milk Snatcher,” and the Sun newspaper even called her “The Most Unpopular Woman in Britain.”