Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger rang Margaret Thatcher’s office in “a very emotional state” after she resigned as Britain’s prime minister in 1990, while the ambassador from the Soviet Union hazarded a joke at her ousting, newly released files show.
Previously secret papers about Thatcher’s premiership published by the National Archives in London on Friday also cast further light on her relationship with Ronald Reagan, the depth of divisions within her government and her passion for single-sex education.
“Henry Kissinger telephoned me in a very emotional state about your decision to resign; it was worse than a death in the family,” Thatcher’s private secretary, Charles Powell, wrote in a note. “Nobody outside Britain could understand how your fellow Conservatives could have done this,” he quoted Kissinger as saying.
Thatcher quit after losing the support of her cabinet in the face of a challenge to her leadership from former Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine, who was emboldened by Tory divisions over Britain’s relationship with the European Union and the premier’s waning popularity. Even though she beat Heseltine in a first round of voting among lawmakers, she didn’t win by a sufficient margin, so there had to be another round, before which she dropped out. She was replaced by John Major five days later.