One of the most striking aspects of the fourth season of The Crown was the rise of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The character was played by Gillian Anderson and showed the main characteristics of the president: strong character, workforce, severe and showing disdain for the tasks that other women of the time did.
The installment devoted four chapters that showed, from fiction, how was the relationship that Thatcher had with Elizabeth II, two women who were born the same year but showed total differences in their way of seeing royalty, English society and foreign relations.
The chroniclers of the time define this link as a strictly professional relationship, in which both held periodic meetings where they exchanged different opinions, although nothing that went beyond the “work”.
To that they add that the two always tried to show mutual respect in public, Despite the fact that in their most private settings, when they were no longer together, they tended to emphasize their most essential differences.
The trip to Balmoral
All the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom have at some time been invited by the monarch to her rest residence in Balmoral, Scotland, where members of the Royal Family tend to be somewhat more “relaxed” in matters such as treatment or chores.
The second chapter of The Crown He showed what Thatcher’s experience would have been like in that place, implying that the “Iron Lady” would have retired quite disgusted and even jaded by the Windsors and their traditions.
For the English journalist and historian Andrew Marr, a former BBC editor, Thatcher would indeed have considered these summer trips as “A tedious waste of time”, since he could not dedicate himself 100% to his work in Downing Street.
“This dedication to efficient time management was noted, with some irony, by the palace. When asked if the prime minister would join the rest for a country walk, the queen sneered: ‘I’m afraid you’ll find that Mrs Thatcher is only on the road’ (hinting that the president was not used to to walk along rural roads) ”, stated Marr in one of his memoirs.
For the communicator, another source of tension between the two was that Thatcher seemed not to bear that the Queen attended to her while they had cookouts in the place, as she found this to be a servile and unacceptable attitude for a monarch.
Without going any further, it is said that on one occasion he wanted to help her serve salad while they were having a country barbecue, to which Isabel refused. “Can someone tell this woman how to feel?” would have said.
To Robert Lacey, historical consultant for the series and author of the Queen’s biography Majesty y de Battle of brothersThatcher always tried to show an almost “extreme” respect for the figure of the queen, which Elizabeth did not tolerate and assumed as “condescension”.
“The style of the queen is more practical and domestic, while Mrs. Thatcher (who is taller) is the one who behaves as if she were the queen,” he says.
Disagreements in politics
The series also addresses the style of the president when she came to power in the United Kingdom, removing the intervention of the state in the social life of the English, reducing public spending and even selling government shares in the oil company BP.
Without going any further, all these measures are known to this day as “Thatcherism”, which is understood as a “boost” to neoliberal policies and individual freedoms.
These situations, at that time, would not have been well seen by Elizabeth II, who recognized herself as a public servant and, presumably, was in favor that the state should intervene to alleviate the effects of the economic crisis that the country in the 1980s.
For documentarian Anthony Sampson, writer of The Queen and her prime ministers, one of the strongest disagreements between the two was lived in 1984, in the midst of social protests over Thatcher’s cuts.
At that time the monarch would have shown her discontent on several occasions towards the Prime Minister, even more during the demonstrations by coal miners that occurred in 1985.
“For more than a decade they waged a silent war both personally and politically, disagreeing on key issues such as sanctions against South Africa, the miners’ strike and the authorization of American planes to bomb Libya using British military bases” , expresses.
The South African issue was precisely another point of disagreement between the two. This because, in the beginning, Thatcher refused to impose sanctions on the African country for the Apartheid that lived there.
For Isabel the Community of Nations, “Commonwealth”, was a key organism and one that she was interested in preserving even for family issues, since it had been founded by her father, King George VI.
Back then, the monarch feared that the lack of sanctions on South Africa could divide the Commonwealth, so I repeatedly sent messages to Thatcher to show a firm position towards South Africa.
As shown in The Crown, For the president, this Community of Nations did not have the same importance and it was even hinted that it also “meant a waste of time”.
“The most delicate moment of their relationship was in 1985, when the queen feared that Thatcher’s opposition to imposing sanctions on the racist South African regime would fracture the Commonwealth,” Sampson explained.
For Lacey, the relationship between the two improved over time, although never beyond the strictly formal and professional.
Elizabeth II is said to have been quite upset by the way the Conservative Party removed Thatcher from office around 1990 after Michael Heseltine criticized and challenged her leadership.
It was like this, two weeks later, the monarch awarded her former Prime Minister the medal of the Order of Merit, in what would have been his last audience at Buckimgham Palace.
Also, in 2013 he attended his funeral, this being the second time that he did something like this for a former president of that country. The first had been for the death of Winston Churchill.
In her memoirs, Margaret Thatcher referred in some paragraphs to her relationship with the Queen, denying that there were frictions or problems between the two.
“The stories of confrontations between ‘two powerful women’ were too good not to invent them ”, exposed as a joke.
Lacey adds that between the two there was also a deep respect of codes: “(Thatcher) never betrayed even the smallest detail of what they discussed in their hearings at Buckingham Palace, in theory confidential, and that was something that throughout the years the queen valued a lot ”.