Madonna just isn’t having a very good year. The Material Girl used to be the most media-savvy celebrity in the world, regularly courting controversy, repeatedly changing her image just as the trends she were setting were about to enter the mainstream, and making a string of hits. Lately, though, there have been several misfires. In January there were the comparisons to MLK, Nelson Mandela and Jesus to promote her new album, Rebel Heart. Then there was the album-drop itself (more of a thud, really). She fell down the stairs at the Brit Awards in February–to the delight of meme-makers everywhere. Last week she snogged Drake on stage, and he didn’t look pleased about it at all.
Her latest faux pas, though, is causing a stir in the U.K.–Madonna’s adopted home–and it concerns another controversial 1980s icon: Margaret Thatcher. The singer posted a picture of the late British Prime Minister on Instagram with the words “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” The caption reads “Thank You Margaret Thatcher! #unapologetic #rebelheart” (just in case you’ve forgotten the name of her new album). She deleted the photo moments later after a barrage of negative comments. “Madonna should know that Thatcher was divisive in the UK,” reads one disappointed tweet. “Some thought she was a heartless witch, others, an evil threat to society.” Thatcher’s Conservative government was blamed for privatizing utilities, breaking the power of unions, and introducing anti-gay legislation. Madonna’s gay fanbase is upset at the posting–was the singer sincerely praising Thatcher? Or was this tribute to the Iron Lady, er, ironic?