The Crown: The Relationship of Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher

In the Season four, episode two, of The Crown, the prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband, Denis, travel to the Queen of Balmoral’s estate in the Scottish Highlands. They quickly feel out of place amid the rural upper-class lifestyle of the royalty. The prime minister doesn’t know the slightest thing about hunting, which is a problem, because the Windsors can’t stop talking about it. When Denis comments that he understands why a nearby farm in distress allows paying guests to stalk deer on its grounds, the Queen Mother scolded him harshly for not understanding ‘conservation’. The Thatchers prefer to sleep together in a bedroom, while the British aristocrats sleep separately. And when the prime minister accidentally sits in a chair reserved for the queen, princess daisy he doesn’t even try to mask his disdain. The Thatchers end up leaving before their time. “I am struggling to find some redeeming characteristic in these people,” the prime minister tells her husband. “They are not sophisticated, cultured, elegant or anything close to ideal.” At the end of the episode, she is seen firing all the members of the former establishment from his cabinet.

And that’s only in an initial episode. Throughout the fourth seasonThe tension between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace is a central point of the plot, culminating in episode eight, where the two leaders disagree on sanctions against South Africa. Frustrated, Elizabeth II leaks her disdain to the Times, a huge scandal, since it is supposed that royalty must not influence politics, domestic or foreign. (That standard still exists today: Despite giving up their public roles, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, for example, received a pushback for encouraging American citizens to vote in the 2020 election.)

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So,the relationship between Queen Elizabeth y Margaret Thatcher was it really so fraught with ideological and class conflicts?

The relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is portrayed in The Crown.

In her memoirs, Thatcher called the stories of coldness between her and the queen exaggerated. ‘Although the press could not resist the temptation to suggest disputes between the Palace and Downing Street, I always found the queen’s attitude towards government work absolutely correct, ‘he wrote. ‘Of course, given the circumstances, the stories of confrontations between’ two powerful women ‘were too good not to make up. In general, more nonsense was written about the so-called ‘female factor’ during my time in office than about almost anything else. ‘ Thatcher also praised the queen’s vast knowledge of political issues, saying that “Her Majesty brings a formidable understanding of current issues and extensive experience.” So his claim that the family had no ‘redemptive characteristics’ it is probably an exaggeration.

And those trips to Balmoral? It is true that, shortly after visiting Scotland in 1981, Thatcher fired three of her ministers. Among them were the noble Lord Soames and Sir Ian Gilmour. Furthermore, if, she was not one of those who dedicated themselves to the field– Tabloid press says she walked in high heels, had to borrow wellies, and seemed puzzled by Balmoral’s etiquette. (When she learned that they had a strict bedtime at 11:15, she apparently said, ‘To bed? What would we do there?’) But it’s an exaggeration to say that there is a direct correlation between that trip and the Cabinet reorganization. The affected men had openly criticized Thatcher, and the prime minister wanted to consolidate allies and power: ‘The consensus among the Conservatives last night was that the first Minister, while perceptibly shifting the government’s center of gravity to the right, it strengthened its own position, ‘The Times reported at the time. And even though Thatcher might not fit into Balmoral, her husband, Denis, did: It is said that he got along very well with the queen mother due to their mutual love of a strong drink.

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Speaking of The Times, in July 1986, it did run a story with the headline ‘Dismayed queen for the ‘indifference’ Thatcher ‘. It caused shock waves with claims that the monarch believed ‘that it should be reach a compromise between Thatcher and the other Commonwealth leaders’ and that she felt Thatcher’s approach might be ‘indifferent, confrontational and divisive’. At the time, Buckingham Palace denied the report. But it didn’t matter: the prime minister was said to be ‘crushed’ by history. Later, it emerged that the queen’s press secretary, Michael Shea, was the source, and members of parliament called for his resignation. He left Buckingham Palace the following year. Did shea have the nod from the queen on the leak? It’s unclear, but, as a trusted advisor, he certainly knew their thought processes.

Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson, in The Crown.

© Des Willie

Scene by Margaret Thatcher in The Crown

At the end of the day, the two of them admired each other due to their mutual sense of duty and work ethic. ‘A senior Buckingham Palace official at the time recalls being surprised by how vigorously they spoke together,’ Andrew Marr wrote in his 2012 book, The Royal Elizabeth. ‘Another says:’ The queen always saw Margaret Thatcher’s point. She understood that it was necessary. ” After what Thatcher was ousted from power in 1990, Queen Elizabeth awarded him the Order of the Garter and the Order of Merit, a scene shown in the final episode of The Crown.

A professional courtesy? Maybe. But consider this: In 2005, the queen attended the 80th birthday party of Lady Thatcher, an invitation that, with his busy schedule, he certainly could have turned down.

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This article was previously published in Vogue US, vogue.com

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