Thatcher Reagan Relationship: Two Were "Ideological Soul Mates"

According to George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989, the U.S. president and Margaret Thatcher were “ideological soul mates.” The two global leaders, who were close allies during the course of their eight overlapping years in office, shared the same instincts, same world views and in particular, same ideologies regarding the Cold War and the vitality of the Western economies.

The two of them shared a good relationship — he once called her “the best man in England,” and she once said that he was “the second most important man in my life.”

Thatcher often lauded Reagan for being a man who did not doubt himself, but instead was assertive and instinctive. This was something, she said, “which has assailed so many politicians in our times and which has rendered them incapable of clear decisions.” And, in return, Reagan enjoyed that she was confident and was fun to both laugh with, and argue with.

However, like all relationships, they faced their ups and downs. Contention arose over issues such as the Falklands War, in which the British did not receive support from the U.S., and the invasion of Grenada a year later in which the U.S. was abandoned by the British.

In the case of the Falklands War, the two disagreed over how deal with the conflict. When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, Reagan had insisted upon peaceful negotiations whereas strong-headed Thatcher was more inclined towards claiming what she believed belonged to her country, even if it meant using military force. Thatcher was stung by Reagan’s stance and his resistance to help her, and felt profoundly let down by one of her closest friend and ally.

A year later, Britain was angered by Reagan’s decision to invade the Commonwealth island of Grenada, following a bloody coup, and Thatcher tried to dissuade him from military action. The Pentagon, however, expressed a “sense of outrage” that she refused to support them.

Regardless of the ups-and-downs, both Thatcher and Reagan enjoyed each other’s company immensely and would stop at nothing just to see each other for a few hours, including a trip she once took from Beijing to Washington.

In 1988, Thatcher was also the last head of government to visit Washington for a state visit while Reagan was still president. That was done so deliberately, says Shultz. The Reagan administration, as a whole, admired her so much that they wanted to honor her in return, as well, for her steadfast alliance to the U.S. and to Reagan. 

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Areej Elahi-Siddiqui

A Pakistani-American undergraduate student at the Seton Hall's School of Diplomacy and International Relations. She enjoys watching inordinate amounts of television, reading far too many books and drinking lots and lots of coffee.

MORE FROM

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.