The death of the UK’s iconic former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher marks the end of an era. As one of the dominant figures of the 20th century, Thatcher was the UK’s first female party leader and first female prime minister. But it was Thatcher’s role in leading Britain through victory in the Falkland Islands that cemented her standing as “The Iron Lady,” and secured her landslide victory in her third reelection campaign in 1983.
The memory of the Falklands’ victory still looms large. It was this month, 31 years and 6 days ago, that Argentine forces invaded the Falklands, claiming authority over the archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean. Within days, Thatcher ordered 2 aircraft carriers, dozens of warships and thousands of troops to the islands and – in a move that showcased Thatcher’s strident style that would earn her the “Iron Lady” nickname – Thatcher gave permission for a nuclear sub to sink an Argentine cruiser – a moment that moviegoers will recall so compellingly reenacted last year by Meryl Streep: “Sink it!”
Less than 3 months later, on June 14, 1983, Argentina formally surrendered, and in the months that followed Thatcher dedicated money to rebuilding the Falklands. In the decades since, the Falklands have emerged from the shadow of a conflict that, in all, claimed nearly 1,000 lives on both sides, and the land has settled into a tranquil outdoor wonderland, home to sites such as Christ Church Cathedral (the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world, dedicated in 1892) and Gypsy Cove (a pair of small bays in the islands).
So what’s life like on the Falklands now? Recently, TravelChannel.com spoke with 2 documentary filmmakers about their work on the Falklands: 51 Degrees South, which explores the people and places who make the islands so unique.
For a look at what visitors will find upon a Falklands visit, be sure to check out our Q&A with the filmmakers, Jamie Gallant and Vern Cummins – and explore the world that the Iron Lady fought to ensure under the British crown just 3 decades ago.