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Previously unseen letters between Margaret Thatcher and Princess Margaret released

Correspondence between Margaret Thatcher and Princess Margaret was released this Friday to the National Archives in Kew after more than 30 years. Among other things, it shows them commiserating over the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the strikes in the steel industry.

“I suppose if one is an ordinary working man and one’s union tells one not to vote for new machinery or technology because otherwise you will lose your job or your card – you just don’t dare,” Princess Margaret told the British Prime Minister in early 1980. “The steel strike is depressing.”

Margaret Thatcher addressed Princess Margaret as “Ma’am” and also wrote at her distress at hearing Princess Margaret had been admitted to hospital for an operation to remove a benign skin lesion. She also tells the Princess of a trip to the United States.

“I cannot help feeling that Washington is much more isolated from America than London is from Britain,” she wrote. “In New York, I spoke to the biggest luncheon ever, some 3,000 people and we took questions afterwards. I found it fascinating – they are so easy to please and so delighted if you say what you really think.”

Of the steel strike, Lady Thatcher wrote, “Alas, the new year has started with a steel strike and it is difficult to see why because the two sides aren’t really far away from one another … People have come to expect an annual increase for nothing, it is difficult to get across the message that more money has to be earned and not just demanded.”

She signed off with: “I remain your humble and devoted servant, Margaret Thatcher.”

Princess Margaret’s response after her hospitalisation show her lively spirit, “My Dear Prime Minister, the things dug out of my face weren’t worrying”.

It is quite rare for such personal notes to surface, but a Buckingham Palace official said it was comfortable with the release as Prince Margaret had died in 2001 at the age of 71. If she had still been alive, the letters would’ve been withheld from publication.

 

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