Thatcher Recalls Political Ally and Confidant Ronald Reagan

Like Reagan, Thatcher was an ardent anti-communist, but after she met a rising Soviet politician named Mikhail Gorbachev in 1984 she told her friend this was a man with whom they could "do business." Reagan believed her, changing the world forever.

"I think the combination of Thatcher and Reagan gave the conservative movement an international reach that it would not have had had either of them been in office alone," says Cannon.

In November 1988 — the Soviet threat fading, the U.S. and British economies strengthened — Thatcher was Reagan's last official White House guest. In a brief Q&A session with reporters, Thatcher was asked if they would stay in touch. "Of course," she replied.

Would she visit the Reagans at their California ranch?

"I shall wait for an invitation," she said in her proper English accent, moving the room — and Reagan — to laughter.

They stayed in touch long after leaving public life; she came to his 83rd birthday party, in February 1994. Afterward he wrote her that her presence "was clearly my most treasured birthday gift."

"As you know well," he continued, "I don't often display my emotions publicly, but throughout your speech I had a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball. I was touched beyond words and your explanation of our unique friendship echoed my sentiments perfectly."

Reagan wrote her that "the Lord brought us together for a profound purpose," and that he had "been richly blessed for having known you."

Not long after that letter, Reagan told the world in a letter — and, subsequently, Thatcher, in a phone conversation — about his Alzheimer's. That was their last contact until she said goodbye this week. Thatcher then flew to California with Nancy Reagan to attend the burial as a guest of the family.

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