Margaret Thatcher’s teddy bears, Humphrey and Mrs Teddy, were the subjects of so many requests to be loaned out for public events that they started to be declined by staff at Downing Street.
Today’s newly-released documents show that a series of letters “inviting” the bears to attend events were turned down, but that Mrs Thatcher intervened on occasion.
Gyles Brandreth, founder of The Teddy Bear Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon, wrote to her ahead of the opening of the attraction in 1988.
“If you have a teddy bear you felt able to loan to The Teddy Bear Museum 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,” he wrote.
A draft reply from the Political Office, on Downing Street headed notepaper, said: “Unfortunately, they will not be able to join you as they have other commitments that month.”
However, a handwritten note on the typed letter, possibly from Mrs Thatcher, instructs the author: “Please return this to me.”
The original refusal was apparently overturned, and Mrs Thatcher’s teddy was loaned to the museum.
Mr Brandreth said: “Mrs Thatcher must have intervened because her teddy bear did indeed come to spend a summer holiday with us at our museum in Stratford upon Avon in 1988.
“I’m happy to think that, given all her other responsibilities, she found time to countermand her staff in this matter.”
He said Mrs Thatcher arranged for her daughter Carol to bring him the bear as they were then colleagues at the breakfast ITV station, TV-am.
“Whatever your politics, Mrs Thatcher was always a kind and thoughtful person,” he said. “My wife and I got to spend time with her after her retirement.
“She told me that collecting teddy bears was a ‘very sensible hobby’ for an MP, given the extra-curricular interests pursued by some MPs!”
However, other requests to borrow Mrs Thatcher’s teddies were unsuccessful.
Organisers of a charity teddy bears’ picnic in Hampshire were told the bears had “other commitments”, and those behind an event to mark 50 Years of the British Diabetic Association at Covent Garden were told that Humphrey “will not be able to join you because he is already engaged for this date”.