What season 4 of The Crown is wrong (and right) about Margaret Thatcher


Gillian Anderson is Margaret Thatcher in season 4 of The Crown.

Des Willie

The crown has always been the story of the woman on the throne. The fourth season of the popular Netflix drama, streaming now, features two very different women who have made a huge impact on the world: Princess Diana and government leader Margaret Thatcher. But how accurate is the Thatcher Division’s portrayal of Gillian Anderson?

At the end of season 3, we saw leftist Prime Minister Harold Wilson resign due to illness in 1976. Ignoring James Callaghan, season 4 goes straight to Thatcher’s election in 1979. The series then continues into the 1980s. and Thatcher’s tenure as Britain’s first female premier until her dismissal, more than ten years later. The show also follows the parallel story of Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) as she joins the royal family led by Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman).

I was born in Thatcher’s Britain, so join me for a look at how The Crown portrays those turbulent times.

Warning: minor spoilers to follow …

Thatcher’s voice

If you’ve never heard of Margaret Thatcher before, you may be puzzled by Anderson’s tight lipped vocal style. But Thatcher really spoke that way, which was a gift to impressionists and satirists of the time. Earlier this month, biographer Charles Moore called Anderson’s portrayal “the only compelling interpretation I’ve seen of Mrs. Thatcher as prime minister,” favorably comparing the X-Files and Sex Education star to Meryl Streep in the biopic. 2011’s The Iron Lady.

Thatcher’s background

The Crown describes Thatcher as a hard-working underdog who constantly remembers her humble beginnings by royal snobs and patrician voice actors in her own government. In real life, Baroness Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in 1925 in the North East of England. His father was a shopkeeper and Methodist preacher who also served as the local mayor.

However, Thatcher’s politics were marked by their superb superiority, and she was far from a loser. As mentioned in Episode 1, she was turned down from a job by a company that actually labeled her as “stubborn, stubborn and dangerously self-opinionated”. Thatcher studied at prestigious Oxford University – glimpsed in a Season 4 flashback with Claire Foy as the young queen – and was a lawyer involved in local politics since the age of 24. Having married Denis Thatcher and having twins, she was elected to the British Parliament in 1959. One of her first acts was the vote to report the flogging of schoolchildren.


The real Margaret Thatcher with Ronald Reagan.


Thatcher icon

The fact that the British people have chosen a woman to lead the country represents a turning point, but Thatcher herself is hardly a feminist icon. It has been successful in a world of men, but only by following the existing rules of a sexist hierarchy and actively working against the interests of other women and other marginalized or oppressed people.

Nicknamed the “Iron Lady” by a Soviet journalist, she was a divisive figure whose reign began with recession and war and ended with riots. The popular but false myth that she played a part in the invention of soft-scoop ice cream is perhaps ironic since she was later nicknamed “Margaret Thatcher, Milk Thief” for freeing free milk for younger schoolchildren.

She opposed sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid regime, as illustrated in Episode 8, and it wasn’t until she left office that the peace process in Northern Ireland really began. He defended a conservative’s notoriously racist “rivers of blood” speech in parliament, described trade unions as “the enemy within” and cut welfare spending.

Episode 5 of Season 4, which follows a troubled man raiding Buckingham Palace in 1982, describes the street-level consequences on ordinary people of Thatcher’s rigid emphasis on strict economic policies and personal interests.


The Crown recreates (or reinvents) important moments in Margaret Thatcher’s life and times.

Des Willie / Netflix

The details

The Crown has always taken dramatic license in its portrayal of royal history. The show puts words in the mouths of its characters in private and shuffles public moments for a dramatic effect. We will never know if the queen felt threatened by Thatcher, but we do know when royal events are altered to fit the drama.

For example, the Queen is unlikely to have dragged Thatcher through the Scottish countryside in her finest clothes as seen in episode 2. This is a visual metaphor. And like the previous film The Iron Lady, The Crown is making a dramatic point when it shows Thatcher as the lonely woman in the corridors of power. There were actually dozens of female MPs in parliament during his tenure.

The series also shows Thatcher distracted by her missing son during the onset of the Falklands crisis, a brief military confrontation between the UK and Argentina over control of the islands in the South Atlantic. In fact, Mark Thatcher was lost in the annual Paris-Dakar rally in January 1982, and Argentine hardware workers raised the flag over South Georgia in March 1982. Argentine forces landed in the Falkland Islands in April.

In portraying the relationship between its two main characters, the show also arguably emphasizes the queen’s influence on the management of the country. Thatcher almost certainly never appealed to political aid from the royal figurehead.

That said, the private chats between the two characters dramatize the values ​​of real-life leaders and the themes of their respective realms. The meeting in episode 8 is particularly concise in summarizing Thatcher’s preference for putting aside emotion and compassion and treating people “with the prospect of a cold balance.”

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