Card featuring Thatcher at Chequers was sent to Libyan and Iraqi dictators in sign of how foreign policy has changed
Margaret Thatcher’s 1981 Christmas card list gives an insight into the way Britain’s view of the world has changed over 30 years. Foreign heads of state who received seasonal greetings from Thatcher in 1981 included the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – the card was addressed: “To the Leader of the Great First of September Revolution” – and the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Gaddafi was killed last October after David Cameron ordered the RAF to mount air raids in support of a rebel uprising in Libya. Saddam was hanged for crimes against humanity in 2006 following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by British and American troops.
The 1981 Downing Street Christmas card featured a photograph of Thatcher and her husband, Denis, who died in 2003 aged 88, in front of their Christmas tree at Chequers. But the historian Chris Collins, who works for the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, said the satirist John Wells’s stage farce Anyone for Denis? – which parodied the Thatchers – was popular that year and Thatcher worried that the Christmas card would be seen as a caricature.
He said an Anyone For Denis? joke “unwisely inserted” by a speechwriter in a July 1981 Thatcher speech was “struck out”.
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