My series review is here. Read my episode 1 recap Gold Stick, episode 3 (Fairytale), episode 4 (Favourites), episode 5 (Fagan), episode 6 (Terra Nullius), episode 7 (The Hereditary Principle), episode 8 (48:1), episode 9 (Avalanche), and episode 10 (War).
“I’m struggling to find any redeeming features in these people at all,”
Yes it’s another dignified stag, about to be shot – this time by a commercial guest on the neighbouring estate to Balmoral. It’s injured but not killed, and runs onto the Queen’s land next door so can’t be pursued. The royals are thrilled, as it’s an Imperial (that means 7 points per antler). The royals are incredibly excited at breakfast, cancelling all their appointments to stalk it that morning. Anne and Philip argue over whose name will be underneath its head when it’s mounted on the dining room wall opposite the Imperial already up there.
Charles and Di go on a date to the opera, chaperoned by her frosty granny Ruth, Lady Fermoy (“the most hideous snob,” Diana calls her to Charles), a great friend of the Queen Mother’s.
Afterwards, Diana tries to get Charles to commit to seeing her over the summer but he’s away / busy. She will be in London, he will be in Zimbabwe and then Scotland.
In a cabinet meeting about the upcoming Budget, Mrs Thatcher faces down disagreement over her “too rash, too reckless,” radical policies (bringing inflation under control, a “fiscal correction” including massive spending cuts, ). Her ministers point out the risks – including social unrest – and that they are the Conservative Party and therefore should be about conservatism, caution and stability, not a radical agenda.
The Thatchers head to Balmoral for their first weekend there.
On the plane, she and Denis discuss her ministers, and he tells her Malcolm Muggeridge had contacted him to explain about the “Balmoral tests” which the royal family like to subject their guests too. Are you U or non-U?
No one from the family is there to greet them; The Queen is out stalking when they arrive. Once in their rooms (they have been allocated one each), they commit their first faux pas: Margaret hasn’t brought any outdoor shoes. Mrs T stops the maid unpacking Denis’s case as she likes to do that herself. There is a protocol sheet in their room but it doesn’t tell them everything they need to know – though Mr T points out to his wife that “I’m sure to worry about it all would be to fail the tests.”
The Thatchers misunderstand the instructions and come down at 6pm dressed for dinner, in black tie. The royals, who have just got in from stalking, are aghast. The Queen tries to reduce the PM’s embarrassment by announcing dinner will be served early. After dinner they play the parlour game Ibble-Dibble, which Mrs T is terrible at. After dinner and games Mrs T starts work.
Denis offers to sleep in the other room but she objects: “We don’t want to catch any upper class habits,”.
The Queen invites tMargaret stalking the next day, and the PM turns up in a bright blue suit and indoor shoes. Everyone is horrified. Her Maj drives her out and finds her some stout shoes, then suggests she go back to change. Thatcher goes back to the house and does some work.
Proncess Margaret finds hers working and strongly criticises her for sitting in Queen Victoria’s chair. “I beg your pardon” says Mrs T, only for the princess to pull her up on it: Mrs T should say “what” not beg pardon. (Which is ridiculous; surely you’d use “what” instead of “pardon” if you haven’t heard something or need clarification, not in place of begging someone’s pardon, when you’d just say “sorry”.) Also it’s a bank holiday and Princess Margaret points out that “sometimes time orf is the most suitable course of action,” and might give Thatcher some perspective.
Anyway, enough of arcane U / non-U speech rules!
Charles arrives and phones Camilla, who won’t come and see him as she’s busy.The Thatchers leave Balmoral early and can’t wait to get away. They discuss Diana and Camilla suggests he invite her instead.
Thatcher’s government are criticising her to reporters. She and Denis visit the Braemar Games with the royals and she’s utterly bemused by it.
“Boorish, snobbish and rude,” says Denis of their hosts; like her Cabinet, she says, all part of the same class. She ays she’s going to change the country top to bottom. They leave Balmoral early.
Diana turns up to stay for the weekend, and instantly wins everyone over, and she claims she has brought *only* outdoor shoes (plus a self-deprecating charm and wit). She is staying at a lodge on the estate, and is woken very early to go stalking with the Duke of Edinburgh. She completely wins him over, even when correcting him over the wind direction (even then, she knows her own mind). The Duke takes the shot and kills the stag. Everyone comes out to greet the dead stag, Diana and Philip when they return. When Diana leaves Balmoral after her stay Charles tells her “you’ve been a great sport.”
Charles talks to Camilla on the phone about how the family loved Diana, and passed the tests with flying colours; and how Philip summoned him to the hanging room – an act of “grotesque symbolism” – to talk to him about Diana and how the family want him to marry her.
Mrs T is doing another Cabinet reshuffle. At their meeting the Queen draws a link between blood sports at Balmoral and how misunderstood they are, and the bloodsports in the government: the reshuffle. Margaret Thatcher tells the Queen she’s got rid of a lot of them because of their background and consequent “lack of grit”. Margaret quotes Chartist poet Charles Mackay to explain how comfortable she is having enemies.
Anne talks to Charles about how perfect Diana is. He wishes he’d had more time to get to know her. Time for that later, admonishes Anne.
The stag’s head is mounted in the dining room at Balmoral.
Meanwhile Diana is being followed by photographers on her way to the Pimlico nursery where she works part-time.