The recent passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was met across the globe with an outpouring of tributes, condolences, and celebrations of her life. Nowhere is Lady Thatcher more revered than in the Falklands Islands, where her courageous leadership following the 1982 Argentine invasion helped ensure the freedom and sovereignty of the people living there.
Speaking on behalf of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, Mike Summers summarized the islander’s eternal gratitude:
She [Lady Thatcher] will be forever remembered in the Islands for her decisiveness in sending a task force to liberate our home following the Argentine invasion in 1982. Our sincere gratitude was demonstrated in 1983 when she was granted the Freedom of the Falkland Islands. Her friendship and support will be sorely missed, and we will always be thankful for all that she did for us.
Flags are being flown at half-staff across the Falkland Islands, which are a British overseas territory of approximately 3,000 inhabitants. In March, 99.8 percent of Falkland Islanders voted to remain part of the United Kingdom in a historic referendum that supported the British legal and historic claim to the islands.
Despite the 8,000-mile distance separating the Falkland Islands from the British mainland, and notwithstanding advisers who doubted the success of a military campaign to retake the islands, Lady Thatcher dispatched a military task force that eventually liberated the people of the Falklands and expelled the Argentine invasion force.
A Falkland Islander interviewed by The Telegraph described how Lady Thatcher’s leadership helped assuage his concerns during the 1982 Argentine invasion:
I never had any doubt of the outcome simply because there was an extremely strong, very high principled leader in charge of the whole operation.
A local shopkeeper on the Falklands described her feelings on the passing of Lady Thatcher:
She is, always will be the Iron Lady to us, and if it wasn’t for her, we probably wouldn’t be here today.
A road in the heart of the Falkland Islands is named after the late British prime minister, a testament to the close relationship between the Falkland Islanders and Lady Thatcher, a leader who liberated the Falklands people and for which the Islanders will be eternally grateful. Lady Thatcher will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest prime ministers of all time, the liberation of the Falklands was perhaps her finest hour.