My series review is here. Or read my episode recaps: episode 1 (Gold Stick), episode 2 (The Balmoral Test), episode 3 (Fairytale), episode 5 (Fagan), episode 6 (Terra Nullius), episode 7 (The Hereditary Principle), episode 8 (48:1), episode 9 (Avalanche), and episode 10 (War).
About maternal love, and favouritism.
It’s 1982 and Mark Thatcher, one of Mrs Thatcher’s twins, is taking part in the Paris–Dakar Rally.
At their weekly meeting, the Queen is cross. Three million unemployed, high inflation, civil unrest in major cities, and Mrs T has been PM for three years. Thatcher points out that inflation and unemployment may be high but that’s because it’s a long job. She needs to cut public spending to bring down inflation, and would like to be tougher but parliament and the people won’t let her.
She begins to cry, and is also annoyed that the first PM to break down in that room is a woman. “It is by no means the first time a prime minister has broken down in here,” the Queen reassures her. She makes the Prime Minister a whiskey and offers paper hankies.
Mrs T tells the Queen that Mark, who is her favourite, is missing in the Sahara Desert.
Later the Queen and Prince Philip talk about the conversation. Philip thinks Mrs T was just being honest, and admits his own favourite child is Anne. The Queen claims not to have a favourite though Philip clearly knows who it is, and: “everyone knows who your favourite is.”
In South Georgia, a team of surveyors from the British Antarctic Survey are working on a windswept plain. The Falklands flag flutters over one of their three tents. On the quayside, a boatload of Angentinian scrap metal merchants have landed and raised the Argentinian flag. One has painted on the side of a corrugated quayside building: “Las Malvinas son Argentinas.” The head of the surveying team tells them they have landed illegally on British Overseas Territory and must leave. Their leaders tells him thew Brits are the ones three illegally and his men shout “Viva Angentina!” The Brits decide to report it to the Governor of the Falkland Islands.
The Queen asks Martin Charteris, her private secretary, to arrange to see her children one by one, without them knowing she’s also seeing the others. She orders briefing documents on them and their hobbies.
Governor Rex Hunt asks permission to sent the icebreaker HMS Endurance, and some Royal Marines, from Port Stanley in the Falklands to South Georgia to evict the scrap metal workers.
Edward arrives for lunch with the Queen. She can hear him being dismissive to the staff as he approaches. He’s come from his school, Gordonstoun, having been made Head Boy. He’s rude about the poached salmon they are having, again, for lunch (“I’m amazed we don’t all have fins and gills,”) and asks about his £20,000 Civil List money, which he claims goes mostly on administration – the Queen knows this isn’t true. Edward, as Head Boy, is pro discipline, and then admits he’s frequently been bullied. He loves the upsides to being royal; he knows he’s going to Cambridge University whatever his grades.
The search for Mark is expanding and the situation in the Falklands is deteriorating. The Argentine junta is sending an ice breaker and two missile-bearing ships of its own to protect its citizens. The British Foreign Secretary wants a diplomatic solution while the Prime Minister says we must do something.
The Queen goes to Anne’s home, Gatcombe Park, to see her. They ride then stop and chat. Anne is annoyed and exasperated that the press hate her, her proper charity work is ignored, while Diana simply puts on a dress and appears in the papers. The Queen tells Anne that Sergeant Cross, her protection officer, is being transferred – it’s implied they have had an affair. Anne asks her not to do that to her. She confesses she used to enjoy her difficult reputation but now it controls her, then returns to the house leaving the Queen to follow.
Mark Thatcher is found with his French co-driver, both of them alive. As the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh watch a news report about it, Philip asks her if she’s realised who her favourite is yet.
Mark is home and showing off at a family dinner in the 10 Downing Street flat. Maggie has made him his favourite, but he demands gravy. He’s rude and racist about his rescuers, and Carol goes to the kitchen to escape him where Denis consoles her.
The dinner is interrupted with news the Junta might attack the Falklands as a way to improve their popularity with the Argentinian people. The UK has been caught napping – important members of Cabinet are out of the country.
A Royal Navy helicopter lands on the lawn at Sandringham, disturbing the Queen. It’s her favourite, Prince Andrew, showing off. They chat over lunch about his title when he gets married, and about Koo Stark, his actress girlfriend who has starred in soft porn movie The Awakening of Emily. The Queen decides on the spot that once he marries he will be Duke of York.
Andrew LOVES the salmon. He wants to go to the Falklands if the situation escalates. “We never shirk action,” says the Queen approvingly (though it sounds like “we never show affection” – also true.)
Thatcher is briefed about a major Argentine force and she demands a robust defence of the islands. Geoffrey Howe, in her Cabinet, tells her “we will never survive an unnecessary and unaffordable war”, though Thatcher responds that we will not survive not going to war.
She’s makes kedgeree for dinner for the Chiefs of Staff. Carol is trying to talk to her about favouritism, and how Margaret’s poor relationship with her own mother Hilda is affecting all her relationships with women. Mrs T hates the idea of a woman being just a housewife. Carol then serves them dinner.
The Queen arrives for lunch at Highgrove. Diana, who is heavily pregnant, says she isn’t feeling well and doesn’t come down. She’s watching Bagpuss, and a story about a princess. Charles has lots of staff. Outside in the grounds there is just “morbid silence” because there are no gardens yet, and no insects. Charles is unconventional in his gardening – he likes wildness and nature and doesn’t like straight lines – but very hot on protocol. The Queen gently mocks his straight lines swimming pool and non-organic tennis court and in retaliation he starts quoting poetry, leaving her looking utterly bored.
Charles tells his mother that Diana is “intellectually incurious,” and bored by his friends. Camilla lives nearby and the two of them phone and hunt. The Queen is sympathetic to her daughter-in-law and tells her oldest son to pay more attention to his wife.
Back in London, she looks at old photos of her children and older relatives.
That night when she’s getting ready for bed Philip comes in and they talk about their children. Her chats with them have left her perplexed and Andrew particularly has left her shocked. She says all four are lost in the desert while Philip comments that Charles has always been lost – and that Andrew is her favourite.
The Queen Mother has told her it is not her fault because she is “mother to the nation”. The Queen admits she had her last two children, even though Philip didn’t want any more, to make up for her failings as a mother up til then, especially with Charles. Philip tells her she’s a good mother, the children are all adults and should sort themselves out, and the Queen just needs to keep going.
There’s a news report about the Navy fleet leaving Portsmouth for the Falklands, with a flotilla of little boats following.