Cost of keeping up appearances

Margaret Thatcher

As Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher's immaculately coiffed blonde locks were as much a part of her image as her famous handbag - and newly-released government files show just how much time she spent keeping up appearances.

Her appointments diary for 1984, released by the National Archives, show that she had 118 hair appointments in the space of 12 months.

In June, when she was hosting world leaders at an economic summit in London she had hair appointments on five consecutive days.

The diary also confirms her reputation as a workaholic who found it difficult to relax.

During her two-and-a-half week summer holiday, spent in Austria and Switzerland, she managed to cram in meetings with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Austrian Chancellor Fred Sinowitz, former UN secretary-general Kurt Waldheim and the president of the Swiss Confederation, attend a dinner for bankers, and visit a local chipboard factory.

One morning was set aside for work and writing letters while another is simply logged as "Worked in library".

It must have been a relief for the staff accompanying her when they were finally able to record a morning spent in "swimming and relaxation".

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