You can add Margaret Thatcher to the list of famous fans of teddy bears. In fact, her bears were overly popular back in the day. That was a bit of an issue.
Thatcher had two beloved teddy bears – Humphrey and Mrs Teddy. They both received so many requests to join public events, her office had to turn down invites, the Telegraph reports.
Gyles Brandreth, founder of The Teddy Bear Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon, wrote to Mrs Thatcher ahead of the opening of the attraction in 1988. “If you have a teddy bear you felt able to loan … you could rest assured that he would be beautifully cared for, properly acknowledged, fully insured, and obviously could be returned to you at a moment’s notice.”
“Unfortunately, they [the bears] will not be able to join you as they have other commitments that month”. That was the response he got newly revealed documents by the Margaret Thatcher Foundation show.
The files from 1988 include one dealing exclusively with requests to borrow the teddies. A letter from the chair of Redbridge Young Diabetics to the prime minister arrived in April that year: “Four years ago you were kind enough to allow your Teddy Bear – Humphrey – to come to our picnic at Woburn. Would he be available now to go to the Piazza in Covent Garden, central London, to help release 10,000 balloons on behalf of the British Diabetic Association? We would take great care of Humphrey and the children are sure he will enjoy being the centre of attention.”
Perry Miller, from the political office in Downing Street, thanked the writer, but replied: “Unfortunately, he will not be able to join you because he is already engaged for this date. I am sorry to bring you a disappointing reply. However, Mrs Thatcher would like to send you her best wishes for a happy and successful day.”
Chris Collins, from the Thatcher Foundation, confirmed that Mrs Thatcher was very fond of her teddy bears and stuffed animals in general. She even had a plush cat outside the flat in Number 10. She even went to the Teddy Bear Museum during a summer holiday. Brandreth said she later told him that collecting teddy bears was a “very sensible hobby” for an MP given the extra-curricular interests pursued by some MPs. And she was quite right.