‘The Crown’ Season 4 Episode 10: Was Margaret Thatcher ‘similar’ to Queen? Tragic end to 11 years of Thatcherism
Andrew Marr quoted a senior Buckingham Palace official in his 2012 book, ‘The Real Elizabeth’ saying that the Queen always saw Margaret Thatcher's point
Why did the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom put down her papers? The tenth and final episode of Season 4 of ‘The Crown’ centers on the downfall of Margaret Thatcher following Sir Geoffrey Howe’s famous 1990 resignation speech.
Stabbed in the back by her cabinet, she unexpectedly faces a leadership challenge at the onset of the last episode of ‘The Crown’. Did you know she had the second-lowest average approval rating of any post-war prime minister at 40 percent?
On November 14, Michael Heseltine mounted a challenge for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Thatcher led on the first ballot with the votes of 204 Conservative MPs (54.8%) to 152 votes (40.9%) for Heseltine and 16 abstentions. However, she was four votes short of the required 15% majority.
Although she said she would “fight on and fight to win” the second ballot, her Cabinet refused to back her. Dubbing her ousting as a betrayal, the “Iron Lady” was forced to step down and left Downing Street in tears on November 28, 1990.
The relationship between the Queen and Thatcher is not exactly rosy in the Netflix series. But was the depiction true or fictionalized? When Olivia Colman was asked if the two are similar characters or very different, she said, “On the face of it, Elizabeth and Margaret should get on. They are the same age, have the same drive, same devotion to their fathers, same work ethic. But yet they don’t. It's not the beautiful friendship that the Queen hopes it’s going to be at the beginning.”
But something changes after Thatcher bids her adieu to the PM seat. “Throughout the time we worked together, people tended to focus on our many differences. Which was lazy and misleading, I think. And overlooked the many things we do have in common. Our generation. Our Christianity. Our work ethic. Our sense of duty. But above all... our devotion to this country that we both love...,” Queen Elizabeth tells Thatcher in ‘The Crown’ after her resignation.
She then awards her the Order of the Garter and The Order of Merit for her “exceptionally meritorious service” followed by a very emotional bow down by the latter.
In her memoir, Thatcher rubbished the stories of frostiness between her and the Queen. “Although the press could not resist the temptation to suggest disputes between the Palace and Downing Street, I always found the Queen's attitude toward the work of government absolutely correct,” she wrote.
“Of course, under the circumstances, stories of clashes between ‘two powerful women’ were just too good not to make up. In general, more nonsense was written about the so-called ‘feminine factor’ during my time in the office than about almost anything else.” Lauding the Queen’s vast knowledge of political issues, saying “Her Majesty brings to bear a formidable grasp of current issues and breadth of experience.”
There was much mutual admiration between the two. “A senior Buckingham Palace official at the time recalls being struck by how vigorously they would talk together,” Andrew Marr wrote in his 2012 book, ‘The Real Elizabeth’. “Another said: ‘The Queen always saw the point of Margaret Thatcher. She understood that she was necessary.’” Interestingly, the Queen was one of the beloved guests at Lady Thatcher’s grand 80th birthday party.
Catch all 10 episodes of ‘The Crown’ Season 4 once they drop on November 15, 2020, on Netflix.