Fans of Lady Thatcher are being urged to act now to save the unique collection of her jewellery, clothing, and possessions for the nation, and to prevent it from being broken up and sold piecemeal overseas when they go under the hammer at Christie’s next month.
The auction will include Mrs Thatcher’s wedding outfit: a midnight blue velvet wedding dress, blue velvet soft brimmed cap with a curled pink ostrich feather and a blue velvet muff, an ensemble said to be inspired by Gainsborough’s celebrated portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.
This figure of an American bald eagle illustrates the high regard in which Margaret Thatcher was held in America, particularly by President Ronald Reagan. The inscription reads: ‘Presented to the Hon. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain for staunch and spirited support of the market economy principle. With the best wishes from Ronald Reagan President of the United States June 13th 1984.’
Other highlights include a suit of Royal blue wool crêpe by Aquascutum which was worn in parliament when Mrs Thatcher was serving as Prime Minister, and the iconic raincoat worn during a visit to British Forces at a NATO training ground near Fallingbostel, Germany in September 1986.
Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a professional dressmaker, and thus was was ‘brought up to know the importance of cut’. She knew and recognised the potential power of fashion to enhance, project and mirror individual stature, and was well aware of its role in commerce.
Charles Moore, the author of an acclaimed autobiography of Margaret Thatcher, rightly described the clothes as telling “the story of a British woman winning in a man’s world, in mainly British clothes. They are of national and global significance and deserve a public home.”
Nearly 80% of respondents to a Sun nation poll wanted the collection to be saved. The Chief Executive of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, Donal Blaney, has urged supporters to help the Centre preserve the Margaret Thatcher collection intact for future generations to enjoy.
"There is surely only one place for this remarkable and historic collection to be displayed and that is at the Margaret Thatcher Centre – a place where future generations from Britain and around the world will have the chance to learn about the life, values and achievements of Margaret Thatcher.
I believe that it’s absolutely crucial for the public, in Britain and around the world, to understand Lady Thatcher as a three-dimensional human being, rather than a caricature.
It is surely the least that the memory of Margaret Thatcher deserves.”
A number of high-profile politicians have come out in support of the preservation of this collection, including John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary and a former Parliamentary aide to Lady Thatcher, who said:
“Lady Thatcher took enormous care over what she wore and was always keen to promote British fashion. Her clothes and accessories were very much part of her image. I have no doubt that many people would still love to see them.”
Anyone who donates at least £1,000 will be invited to attend a private viewing of the collection in its temporary home next year, while donating at least £5,000 will mean you can choose a particular item to be dedicated in your name. For this amount the donor will also have their name displayed alongside the collection when it goes on show to the public.
If you would like to contribute, please visit The Margaret Thatcher Centre website.