Am watching Newsnight discussion on Thatchers legacy, with Ken Livingston , Douglas Hurd and Baroness Williams, I a, perplexed as to why they refer to her as Mrs Thatcher and yet they speak of other politicians by their full names or last names. What's this about?l
I don't know but I do remember she was usually referred to as Mrs Thatcher. I always think of her as that. Saying Margaret Thatcher seems odd. Perhaps it's something old-fashioned to do with using women's titles so you know whether they're married or not.
It is peculiar to refer to her as Mrs Thatcher but I suppose they're thinking about her as PM, when that was the title she used.
There is a semi-official convention that pisses me off, that in a lot of formal writing you use just 'Surname' for men and 'firstname surname' for women. I don't think people mean to do it, it's just one of those ingrained habits that reminds you women aren't the default.
I can't work out if there is any protocol for referring to leaders past or present. I always found it odd that the former Iraqi leader was always referred to by his first name - Saddam (whether he was an ally or an enemy at the time.)
I think Saddam Hussein's first name was used frequently to make sure there wasn't any confusion with King Hussein of Jordan, who died in 1999.
We always seem to be less comfortable using just a last name when we talk about a woman. You can say "Thatcher" and people do, but sometimes one has to force oneself a little. Maybe the unspoken feeling is that surnames belong to men, and a woman with that name has to be differentiated from her husband, or even from her father if she's not married. Dennis Thatcher wasn't a public figure, but he was a businessman who was probably well enough known in some places. Did his associates ever say "Thatcher, old chap..." (and did it continue, "about that wife of yours..."?)