Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died, aged 87.

The veteran politician, who was portrayed by Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, passed away on Monday (08Apr13) after suffering a stroke.

Family spokesman Lord Tim Bell confirmed the news from Thatcher's son, Mark, and daughter, Carol, saying in a statement, "It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning."

Current Prime Minister David Cameron says in a statement, "It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher's death. We've lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton," while a statement from Buckingham Palace on behalf of Queen Elizabeth Ii reads, "The Queen was sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher. Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family."

The Conservative politician made history when she became the U.K.'s first female Prime Minister in 1979, and she remained in office until 1990, making her the longest-serving British leader of the 20th century.

Thatcher, whose father was a grocery store owner, was born Margaret Roberts in Lincolnshire, England and she entered politics in the 1950s. She married her husband Denis Thatcher in 1951.

She trained as a lawyer and gave birth to twins before finally winning a seat for the Conservative Party in Finchley, London in the U.K.'s 1959 election.

Thatcher rose through the party ranks to become Secretary of State for Education and Science in the 1970 administration of Prime Minister Edward Heath, and took over from him as Conservative Party leader in 1975.

She went on to wage a successful general election campaign and brought the Conservatives back to power in 1979.

Thatcher endured a turbulent first few years in office, bearing out a recession, but bouncing back to economic growth following the 1982 Falklands War, which was triggered when Argentine forces invaded the British-held territory.

She also had to face troubles in Northern Ireland, including an increase in violence in the region, and a series of hunger strikes among prisoners, and she narrowly escaped assassination in 1984 when an Irish Republican Army (Ira) bomb exploded at a hotel in Brighton, England, killing five people during the Conservative Party conference in the city.

During her time in office, Thatcher's controversial policies included a clampdown on the country's influential trade unions, which led to crippling walkouts, most famously the miners' strike of 1984, as well as privatisation of national state-owned companies such as gas and electricity providers.

She was also instrumental in reforming tax laws in the U.K., but many of the policies were unpopular and led to an outbreak of riots and civil unrest in the late 1980s. Thatcher's highly controversial community charge, also known as the 'Poll Tax', blighted her third term in office and she resigned as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party in 1990.

After her time in office came to an end, she was bestowed with a life peerage, becoming Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire, England - an honour which entitled her to sit in Britain's House of Lords.

Her health went into decline in recent years, she lost her husband in 2003 and later suffered a number of strokes which limited her public appearances.

She was famously portrayed on the big screen by Hollywood actress Meryl Streep, who won an Oscar for playing the frail elder Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She has also been played by Lindsay Duncan in 2009 Tv movie Margaret, as well as Andrea Riseborough in 2008's The Long Walk to Finchley.

Thatcher will receive a ceremonial funeral with military honours at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, which will be followed by a private cremation. Details will be announced in the coming days.