Britain said its last goodbye to Margaret Thatcher last month, when she was laid to rest with prayers and ceremony, but her financial legacy is still shrouded in mystery. The Iron Lady, a grocer's daughter who rose to become the country's first female prime minister, passed away peacefully while staying at the world-famous Ritz hotel, owned by her long-time supporters and media businessmen, the Barclay brothers.
Huge crowds turned out to pay their respects to Lady Thatcher as the prime minister, David Cameron, defended her ceremonial funeral as a “fitting” tribute to a major national figure.
The exact details of Thatcher's estate, however, remain a closely-guarded secret by her family. And despite the opulence and luxury she was surrounded by in her final days, her wealth, although substantial, seems to be smaller than speculated.
A day before Britain paid its final respect to the former PM, a spokesman for the family declined to answer any questions related to her estate, pointing out that while she was alive Thatcher had never revealed details about her financial affairs and insisting that her family wants to keep this information private.
Before moving to the hotel, Thatcher occupied a five-bedroom house in Chester Square, Belgravia for more than two decades. It is unknown whether the property, which is located in one of the capital's most expensive neighbourhoods, is included in her estate.
In 1991 Margaret Thatcher established the Thatcher foundation, which had assets of £1.4 million three years later and had made donations of nearly £600,000. At the end of 2002, the foundation's assets were estimated at just £8,816 and its UK division was closed. She was also an active participant in a number of events before her health started to worsen, including speeches in the US and the Far East and a global consultant for Philip Morris tobacco, which reportedly made her "thousands of pounds" a year, the paper said.
In 1992, two years after Thatcher was forced to resign and leave Downing Street for good, her personal wealth was estimated at £9.5 million. For the publication of her autobiography a year later, Harper Collins paid a £3.2 million advance and she also got an additional £250,000 for the Japanese rights. In 2003, when her husband, Sir Denis, passed away, Thatcher and her children were reported to have inherited £1 million in a Trust.
Advisors say that with her estate still a mystery, it may be some time before it is clear what Margaret Thatcher left behind.