My series review is here. Or read my episode recaps: episode 1 (Gold Stick), episode 2 (The Balmoral Test), episode 3 (Fairytale), episode 4 (Favourites), episode 5 (Fagan), episode 6 (Terra Nullius), episode 7 (The Hereditary Principle), episode 8 (48:1), and episode 9 (Avalanche).
“A spoilt, immature man endlessly complaining unnecessarily, married to a spoilt, immature woman endlessly complaining unnecessarily. And we are all heartily sick of it.”
The deputy prime minister, Sir Geoffrey Howe uses his resignation speech in the House of Commons to lay into Thatcher’s aims and strident approach: “the conflict of loyalty to my Right Honourable friend the Prime Minister… and of loyalty to what I perceive to be the true interests of the nation… has become all too great”. He also asks others to think of their own response to this conflict within government, effectively suggesting Mrs Thatcher should be ousted for the good of the nation.
Charles tells the Queen that Diana is seeing James Hewitt again and that he wants a formal separation. They are interrupted by Philip who puts on the TV to watch what’s happening to Mrs Thatcher.
Mrs Thatcher is in number 10, devastated at what she sees as treachery.
Diana and Charles meet up from separate cars in a motorway lay-by, and travel together to Ludgrove, William’s prep school, to watch him play rugby. They leave him on the school steps after the game, Diana hugging and kissing him and Charles patting him on the shoulder.
Princess Diana is off to New York alone, at the request of the Government; Charles tells her it is pure self-advancement.
At the next weekly meeting between the Queen and Thatcher, they talk about the crisis in the Gulf, which Thatcher sees as the preeminent problem facing them. The Queen asks the Prime Minister about Howe’s “direct challenge” to Thatcher’s authority and whether the PM expects a leadership challenge.
“You’re brave,” the Duke of Edinburgh replies to his wife over dinner later, when she tells him she asked Thatcher about Sir Geoffrey.
The fallout to Geoffrey Howe’s resignation speech leads to a Tory leadership challenge. The fear for Thatcher and her supporters is that that even if she doesn’t lose outright on the first ballot she will be so weakened she will have to “consider her future”. After that first ballot Thatcher is four votes short of an outright win so it goes to a second ballot.
Diana and Charles meet over a massive table to discuss itineraries. Diana has two assistants with her while Charles has several. Adeane implies her mental health can’t cope with her New York trip, and being away from her children for four days will be distressing for her.
Thatcher sees her ministers one by one, asking if they will support her. Theres a lot of “yes of course,” and then a wave of criticism and a suggestion she stand down. Mrs Thatcher wants the Queen to support her by dissolving Parliament.
The country is on the brink of the Gulf War. The Queen asks Thatcher if she’s consulted with her Cabinet about this proposed dissolution – she hasn’t. The Queen then asks her if it is right to exercise her power just because it is hers to use. She points out that everyone is against Thatcher by now: Cabinet, party and country. The Prime Minister pointedly responds: “The difference is, you have power in doing nothing. I will have nothing.”
The Queen suggests leaving politics to follow her passions, but Thatcher explains both that work is her passion, and the pain of having it snatched away from her when she wants to finish the job.
Charles is telling people his wife is mad. Meanwhile Diana flies to New York on Concorde, terrified she’s making a huge mistake. She arrives to cheering, and though initially she’s like a rabbit in the headlights (and her bulimia is back), she starts to realise she can make the four-day trip a triumph.
The morning after the gala (where Diana wore that famous cream dress and matching bolero), en route to her next visit, she notices locals delightedly waving at her, and waves back. Crowds cheer as she arrives at her appointments, and when she reaches her final stop on the tour – a paediatric AIDS unit in Harlem – she hugs a young boy with AIDS, while photographers snap away.
Camilla watches reports of the visit on TV while drinking and smoking in her kitchen. She asks Charles to let go of the idea that they can be together. In a popularity contest, Camilla knows she would lose against Diana. Charles reassures Camilla she is his one true love.
Mrs Thatcher leaves Number 10 Downing Street, after 11 and a half years as Prime Minister.
The Queen asks to see her and offers sympathy, woman to woman, on the way in which the PM was ousted. She points out what they have in common: age, religion, duty, work ethic, and devotion to country. She gives Mrs Thatcher the Order of Merit, which is given out at the “personal discretion of the sovereign, in recognition of exceptionally meritorious service”. There are only 24 recipients at a time. Mrs Thatcher is overcome, and after the Queen has pinned it on, leaves (leaving the box behind).
Charles goes to see Diana. She tells him she hopes he’s come to apologise, but he is awful to her, accusingly talking about “the exquisite selfishness of your motives, and the calculated vulgarity of the antics”. He moans that he could have done the same and made the front pages and Diana points out his family barely hug anyone (as we saw when they left William at Ludgrove).
He claims Diana’s antics have hurt Camilla, which is also hurting him. He wants to be with Camilla, and he won’t be blamed any more for their awful marriage, their “grotesque misalliance”. He leaves, and Diana goes to make herself sick but stops herself.
It’s Christmas and everyone is arriving at Sandringham in Norfolk. The Duke of Edinburgh tries to be friendly when she arrives. Everyone else ignores her. Diana tries to talk to the Queen who is very frosty, walking off with Anne to feed the dogs.
Charles goes to talk to the Queen, who is irritated by the Waleses both “ambushing” her, wanting to talk. She tells him how lucky he and the Princess of Wales are, and that they are spoilt immature people, “endlessly complaining unnecessarily”. She demands they pull themselves together. And if he wants to be king, he must act like one.
The family is gathering for pre-dinner drinks, all dressed up. Diana is in her room and the Duke of Edinburgh goes to see if she’s alright. He’s initially kind, saying the family is a “rough bunch”. She tells him what it’s like from her point of view, the “cold frozen tundra” of the family. She tells him she will break away officially to get love and support if she has to. Philip counsels against it: “Let’s just say I can’t see it ending well for you”. She asks if that’s a threat.
He’s tired of placating her and trying to build bridges, and tells her not only are the two of them still outsiders, they are all – in the family – lost, lonely, irrelevant outsiders, apart from the one person who matters. Diana, he says, is confused as to who that one person is.
The photographer has arrived and Philip leaves the room to go downstairs. Diana changes into a long dress, and follows him down. In the group photo everyone is happy except for Diana, standing slightly apart at the side. Her eyes fill with tears.