Who was Madeleine Albright? Career of first female US Secretary of State dead at 84, cause of death, tributes

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has died aged 84. (Credit: Getty Images)Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has died aged 84. (Credit: Getty Images)
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has died aged 84. (Credit: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

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The former US politician made history with her appointment to Secretary of State

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has died at the age of 84.

The prominent Democratic politician and American diplomat made history with her appointment to the White House role and inspired a generation of women.

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After a long career in US politics, it was announced on 23 March that Ms Albright had passed away.

Here’s everything you need to know about the historical figure’s career and life.

Who is Madeleine Albright?

Madeleine Albright is best known as the first female US Secretary of State after she was inducted into the role in 1997 by President Bill Clinton.

She served as US Secretary of State for four years, leaving the position in January 2001 after President Clinton’s presidential term came to an end.

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Born in Prague in 1937, Ms Albright and her family initially moved to the UK.

When she was just nine-years-old, the family emigrated once more to the US seeking political asylum, with Ms Albright gaining US citizenship in 1957.

She began her career in politics while working at the White house during the Jimmy Carter administration.

Ms Albright continued to act as a foreign policy advisor for many Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

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In 1993, Bill Clinton nominated her to ambassador to the United Nations.

Four years later, upon the commencement of his second term in the White House, former president Clinton appointed Ms Albright as Secretary of State, becoming the first “Madame Secretary”.

She was criticised during this time after urging the US to intervene in Kosovo, where communities were being ethnically cleansed by Serbian regime, Slobodan Milosevic.

Her actions led to the NATO bombing of former Yugoslavia from March 1999 until June 1999.

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In her later years, she continued to make an impact on US politics.

Former president Barack Obama awarded Ms Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

The honour is the highest available to a US citizen.

How did Madeleine Albright die?

In a statement confirming the death of the political figure, her family revealed that Ms Albright has passed away after being diagnosed with cancer.

The statement, posted to her Twitter page, said: “We are heartbroken to announce that Dr Madeleine Albright, the 64th US secretary of state and the first woman to hold that position, passed away earlier today.

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“The cause was cancer. She was surrounded by family and friends. We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.”

Who has paid tribute to Madeleine Albright?

Tributes have been pouring in for Ms Albright from across the US political spectrum.

Her former close friend and colleague Bill Clinton described her as “a passionate force for freedom, democracy, and human rights”.

He said: “Few leaders have been so perfectly suited for the times in which they served.

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“When the end of the Cold War ushered in a new era of global interdependence, she became America’s voice at the UN, then took the helm at the State Department, where she was a passionate force for freedom, democracy, and human rights.

“Madeleine’s passing is an immense loss to the world in a time when we need the lessons of her life the most.”

Former Republican president George Bush echoed former president Clinton, saying in a statement that both he and wife Laura were “heartbroken” by the death of Ms Albright.

Former president Obama said: “As the first woman to serve as America’s top diplomat, Madeleine Albright was a champion for democratic values. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Albright family and everyone who knew and served with a truly remarkable woman.”

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Ned Price, a spokesman for the US state department, spoke shortly after her death, saying: “The impact that Secretary Albright had on this building is felt every single day in just about every single corridor.

“She was a trailblazer as the first female secretary of state and quite literally opened doors for a large element of our workforce.”

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