Their "kiss-and-make-up" performance was part of a carefully stage-managed show to put to rest speculation that Lady Thatcher might be disenchanted with the Government's line on Europe and support the Referendum Party in the run-up to the election.
"We still have work to do. When the conference is over, let's stop the talking and let's get cracking," she said after a private meeting between the two.
Mr Major and Lady Thatcher went on to a reception for London Tories where the Prime Minister described his predecessor as the "architect of the revolution".
He warned: "If we throw away the next election, we won't just throw away the last five years. We will throw away the last 17 years."
Lady Thatcher repaid the gesture by embracing his leadership. Rejecting Tony Blair's admiration for her, and Labour's move to the right as "just an act", Lady Thatcher said: "You and I, John, have put our principles into practice year after year. Not just when they were popular, but when they were unpopular. We did it because we knew they were right.
Lady Thatcher sat alongside Norma Major to hear Brian Mawhinney's speech to the conference, in which he tried to draw a line under all the party's troubles over sleaze and Europe, and relaunch the Tory campaign for the election.
Attacking Tony Blair's appeal to wavering Tory voters, the Conservative Party chairman ridiculed the Labour leader's comparison of himself with Lady Thatcher. "Mr Blair, I know Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine.
"When Margaret Thatcher was rebuilding this country, you opposed everything she did. Mr Blair, you are no Margaret Thatcher," Mr Mawhinney said.