Did Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Balmoral test’ really happen as shown in The Crown?

Thatcher was invited to stay at the Queen’s Scottish residence in 1981

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 30 November 2020 17:05 GMT
Margaret Thatcher interrupts the Royal Family at Balmoral on The Crown

The Crown is back and, once again, it’s proving a huge hit for Netflix.

Viewers have been tearing through the new season since its arrival on Sunday (15 November), with many praising Emma Corrin’s depiction of Princess Diana and feeling “conflicted” over Gillian Anderson’s Margaret Thatcher.

Many have been left wondering how accurate some the show has been with some of the key plot points – especially when considering showrunner Peter Morgan has taken artistic licence with historical facts in the past.

One such moment sees Thatcher being put through the wringer by the royal family after being invited to Balmoral with her husband, Denis, in 1981.

While there, she is shown to be a fish out of water and the butt of Philip and Margaret's jokes.

One scene sees her accompany the Queen on a hike across the glen dressed in bright blue and smart shoes, before she is forced to head back and change her clothes due to the mud. 

But, how accurate are the Balmoral scenes? 

Thatcher's biographer, the journalist Charles Moore, wrote in The Telegraph that while aspects of this visit are “surely wrong”, the “broad impression has the ring of truth”.  

The Queen’s biographer, Ben Pimlott, once stated that Thatcher viewed Balmoral as a form of “purgatory”.


Additionally, the book The Queen and Mrs Thatcher revealed that the prime minister thought of the location as a “different world”.

In the show, the Queen is depicted as being slightly miffed with the British prime minister, which is presumed to be a stretch. 

Their final encounter in the season is more emblematic of the friendship the pair would have until Thatcher’s death in 2013.

Find a rundown of the new seasons accuracy here.

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