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Her charismatic personal and political style has been a burden for her party, which has been unable to produce another figure of the similar stature to challenge Mr. Blair. Her own political pronouncements became even less frequent after she suffered a series of small strokes in 2002, but she did deliver a moving videotaped tribute to Mr. Reagan at his 2004 funeral.

Mrs. Thatcher rarely dwelt on her status as a pioneering woman dominating as a traditional male preserve, but “Maggie” would prove a cultural icon as well as a political giant. She showed little sympathy for modern feminism, but political leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have followed a trail Mrs. Thatcher blazed.

“I owe nothing to women’s lib,” she once said, but she also never showed the slightest sense of being intimidated by the powerful men with whom she worked.

“It may be the cock that crows,” she once noted, “but it is the hen that lays the egg.”