Mark Thatcher

Mark Thatcher
The Honourable
Sir Mark Thatcher
Thatcher Baronet
Assumed office
26 June 2003
Preceded by Denis Thatcher
Personal details
Born 15 August 1953 (1953-08-15) (age 58)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Diane Burgdorf (m. 1987–2005) «start: (1987)–end+1: (2006)»"Marriage: Diane Burgdorf to Mark Thatcher" Location: (linkback://
The Hon. Sarah, Lady Thatcher (m. 2008–present) «start: (2008)»"Marriage: The Hon. Sarah, Lady Thatcher to Mark Thatcher" Location: (linkback://
Relations Sir Denis Thatcher Bt.
(father, deceased)
Margaret Thatcher (mother)
Carol Thatcher (sister)
Alfred Roberts
(grandfather, deceased)
Children Michael Thatcher
Amanda Thatcher

Sir Mark Thatcher, 2nd Baronet (born 15 August 1953) is the son of Sir Denis Thatcher and Baroness Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, and twin brother of Carol Thatcher. In addition to his prominence as the son of one of the world's best known politicians, Thatcher has attracted headlines for his early youthful playboy lifestyle, involvement in motorsports, business associations, and for the role he played in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea, for which role he was fined three million rand (approximately $500,000) and received a four-year suspended jail sentence.


Personal life

Thatcher married Diane Burgdorf, the conservative Lutheran daughter of the millionaire Texas car dealer Theodore C. Burgdorf, on 14 February 1987 in Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, London, England.[citation needed] They reportedly met at a party for D Magazine, a Dallas lifestyle publication, while Thatcher was living in Texas as a representative of the luxury automotive company Lotus Cars.[citation needed] The family moved to South Africa, possibly to avoid bad publicity because of allegations against Mark Thatcher of racketeering that resulted in a £4 million civil action in 1994.[1] They have a son (who is heir apparent to the baronetcy) and a daughter:

  • Michael Thatcher (born 28 February 1989)[2]
  • Amanda Margaret Thatcher (born 1993)

On 19 September 2005, the couple announced their intention to divorce. Burgdorf married American statistician and sports card millionaire James Beckett in 2008.[3]

In March 2008, Tim Walker revealed in the Sunday Telegraph's Mandrake diary that Thatcher had secretly married Sarah Jane, Lady Francis Russell. She is the ex-wife of Lord Francis Russell (a younger son of John Russell, 13th Duke of Bedford), the daughter of Terence J. Clemence and a sister of The Viscountess Rothermere.[4][5] During his marriage to Burgdorf, Thatcher had had an affair with Russell, about which Burgdorf had confronted her.[6]

Motorsport career

In 1982, while competing in the Paris-Dakar rally, Thatcher, his French co-driver, Anne-Charlotte Verney, and their mechanic went missing in the Sahara Desert for six days. On 9 January 1982, the trio became separated from a convoy of vehicles after they stopped to make repairs to a faulty steering arm. They were declared missing on 12 January; after a large-scale search, a C-130 Hercules search plane from the Algerian military spotted the white Peugeot 504 some 50 km off course on 14 January. Thatcher, Verney and the mechanic were all unharmed.

Before competing he said:

  • "I've now raced in Le Mans and other things - this rally is no problem"[7].
  • "I did absolutely no preparation. Nothing."[8].

About the Paris-Dakar of 1982 Mark Thatcher wrote:

  • "So The Boss (the prime minister) does entirely the right thing, picks up the phone to the ambassador in Algiers and says, "Can you find out what is going on?" The ambassador then rings the prefect of the region who says there are four people missing and that I am one of them."[8]
  • "We stopped. The others stopped too, took a note of where we were and went on. But the silly bastards - instead of telling everyone we were 25 miles east when they finished the section, they told them we were 25 miles west."[8]
  • "The biggest story of 1982 was the Falklands war. The second biggest also involved my mother... and me."[8]

Thatcher also competed, with little success but less notoriety, on the circuits in Sports 2000, Thundersports and eventually graduated to the European Touring Car Championship with semi-works BMWs.

Business life

Thatcher was later employed in the jewellery business.[citation needed] His business dealings at the time that his mother was the Prime Minister were the subject of much press attention.

In 1998 South African authorities investigated his firm for running loan shark operations. A company owned by Thatcher offered unofficial small loans to hundreds of police officers, military personnel and civil servants. Those who defaulted were pursued by debt collectors and charged 20% interest rates, according to the Star of Johannesburg.[9] According to The Daily Telegraph of 26 August 2004, "In 1998, he was at the centre of a scandal after he lent huge sums of money at exorbitant interest rates to more than 900 local police officers and civil servants in Cape Town. He admitted lending the cash but insisted that he had done nothing wrong. He is also thought to have profited from contracts to supply aviation fuel in various African countries."

Other widely reported Thatcher embarrassments include allegations of U.S. tax evasion (a criminal case was eventually dropped) and a racketeering case in Texas which was settled out of court. The Sunday Times, quoting "city sources", said he had amassed a personal fortune of £60m, the majority of which is in offshore accounts, attributed to shrewd investments and a series of "astute deals in Africa".[9]

Equatorial Guinea coup

On 25 August 2004, Thatcher was arrested at home in Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa. He was charged later that day with contravening two sections of South Africa's "Foreign Military Assistance Act", which bans South African residents from taking part in any foreign military activity. The charges related to "possible funding and logistical assistance in relation to [an] attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea" organized by Thatcher's friend, Simon Mann. He was released on bail of 2 million rand and spent a period of time under house arrest, but was bailed to London to live with his widowed mother while his wife and children moved to the family's home in Dallas, Texas.[citation needed]

On 24 November 2004, the Cape Town High Court upheld a subpoena from the South African Justice Ministry that required him to answer under oath questions from Equatorial Guinean authorities regarding the alleged coup attempt. He was due to face questioning on 25 November 2004, regarding offences under the South African Foreign Military Assistance Act; however, these proceedings were later postponed until 8 April 2005. Ultimately, following a process of plea bargaining, Thatcher pleaded guilty to negligence in investing in an aircraft "without taking proper investigations into what it would be used for". Thatcher admitted in court that he had paid the money, but said he was under the impression it was going to be invested in an air ambulance service to help the impoverished of Africa. This explanation was not believed by the judge and he was fined three million rand (approximately $500,000) and received a four-year suspended jail sentence.

On 3 April 2005, Thatcher, then living with his mother in Belgravia, London announced that his family home would be in Europe after he was refused a residence visa to live in the United States as a result of his guilty plea in the Equatorial Guinea affair. His children, he stated, will be educated in the United States.[citation needed]

Under the headline "Mark Thatcher — undesirable in Monaco?" French newspaper Le Figaro reported on 20 December 2005:

"Margaret Thatcher's son, the former British prime minister's nefarious offspring, will not be installing himself in the principality of Monaco as he hoped." A spokesman for Prince Albert II of Monaco told Le Figaro that Thatcher's residency card would not be renewed. "He has a temporary residency card valid for one year. It will not be renewed when it expires in the second half of 2006 and he will have to leave." The spokesman, Armand Deus, added: "I cannot say why it will not be renewed. But the Prince made things very clear during his investiture in July when he said that ethics will be at the centre of life in Monaco."

In Equatorial Guinea in June 2008, Simon Mann claimed during his trial testimony that Thatcher, now resident in Spain, "was not just an investor, he came completely on board and became a part of the management team" of the coup plot.[10]

Titles and styles

Thatcher is entitled the usage of the pre-nominal style 'The Honourable' following the elevation of his mother, Margaret Thatcher, to the peerage as a baroness in 1992; he shares this courtesy with his twin sister, The Hon. Carol Thatcher. He inherited the Thatcher baronetcy on the death of his father, Sir Denis, in 2003. The baronetcy, created in 1991 for Sir Denis, was the first (and so far only) baronetcy created since 1964. It was not the first honour to be granted to a spouse of a British Prime Minister: the wives of both Benjamin Disraeli and Sir Winston Churchill were made peeresses in their own right, although the former excited controversy at the time.

Timeline of titles

  • Mark Thatcher Esq. (15 August 1953–26 June 1992)
  • The Hon. Mark Thatcher (26 June 1992 –26 June 2003)
  • The Hon. Sir Mark Thatcher, 2nd Bt (26 June 2003–)

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Cabrrouy, Gabriel (2007-12-14). "Thatcher catching on at Highland Park". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. 
  3. ^ "Mark Thatcher's ex-wife Diane to marry £15 million American tycoon". London: Daily Mail. 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  4. ^ Dugan, Emily (2008-03-31). "New Lady Thatcher on the scene as Sir Mark weds". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  5. ^ "Mark Thatcher 'weds in Gibraltar'". BBC News. 2008-03-30. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  6. ^ Thatcher, Diane (2006-09-17). "How Lady T's selfish son destroyed our marriage". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d The Guardian, Thursday 13 January 2005 - Lost in the desert -
  9. ^ a b "Profile: Mark Thatcher". BBC News. 26 August 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  10. ^ David Pallister There is currently still an outstanding arrest warrant, which Equatorial Guinea have so far unsuccessfully, been unable to resolve. "Thatcher was integral to coup plot, Mann tells court", The Guardian website, 18 June 2008. Retrieved on 18 June 2008.

External links


Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Denis Thatcher 1st Bt
(of Scotney)
2003 – present

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