| Denis Thatcher
London, June 26 (Reuters): Sir Denis Thatcher, husband of “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, died today after a life lampooned as the henpecked, gin-swilling sidekick of Britain’s first woman Prime Minister.
“He died peacefully at 9.30 am at the Lister Hospital in London,” a spokesperson for Lady Thatcher said. Baroness Thatcher, son Mark and daughter Carole were at his bedside.
Sir Denis, 88, had been in frail health after undergoing a six-hour heart-by pass operation earlier this year.
Although overshadowed in the public eye by his wife, he was a successful businessman in his own right.
For years, he was satirised in the magazine Private Eye as a henpecked, golf-playing old buffer, who liked the occasional gin and tonic and spent much of his time trying to avoid the wrath of “The Boss”.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose Labour party was out of power for 18 years after Margaret Thatcher won the 1979 election for the Conservatives, said he was saddened by the death of the man who had supported her during the 11 years she was Premier.
“He was always by her side when needed, a constant and trusted companion,” he said in a statement.
Lady Thatcher’s political secretary said Sir Denis had made a huge contribution to her ground-breaking political career.
“Archetypal Englishman of the old school, immensely courteous, very thoughtful, very generous and enormously supportive of all that Margaret Thatcher achieved,” John Whittingdale told reporters.
For the years his outspoken wife — “The Iron Lady” — was in power, Sir Denis usually remained tight-lipped in public avoiding talking to the press.
“Remember that it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt,” he used to say.