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S04.E02: The Balmoral Test

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2 hours ago, Roseanna said:

How can other Presidents and Prime Minsters have a holiday . . . but Thatcher didn't?

I think when Presidents and Prime Ministers take a holiday, they are the focal point of all the support staff involved in making that holiday happen.  I don't think US Presidents on vacation stop working completely -- they just cut way back, relying on their support staff (some of whom probably travel with them) to make sure anything time-sensitive is brought to their attention.

But this episode suggests that when Thatcher visited the Queen there was an expectation (by the royals) that the Prime Minister would leave ALL her responsibilities behind for the weekend (or however long they were invited) and that she would focus all of her attention on her role as a guest of  the Queen.  That seems unrealistic.  Surely the Queen has invited other Prime Ministers before?  Surely there is already an established protocol for ensuring the Prime Minister has the support he/she needs to relax during a week-end get away, while still attending to time-sensitive matters of state.  

I've no doubt that Thatcher was a fish-out-of-water during the visit but I scoff at the depiction of the visit that has been served up.

Edited by WatchrTina
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On 11/15/2020 at 1:47 PM, dubbel zout said:

I'm pretty sure the stag was CGI.

It was totally CGI. I hate hunting as well but it looked so obviously fake I wasn’t that bothered. 

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1 minute ago, swanpride said:

Simple, she was a control freak.

I agree.  Plus there were circumstances (like the apartheid issue) where she was the only one who held onto that opinion; she was NOT going to trust anyone else to deal with things.

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53 minutes ago, WatchrTina said:

But this episode suggests that when Thatcher visited the Queen there was an expectation (by the royals) that the Prime Minister would leave ALL her responsibilities behind for the weekend (or however long they were invited) and that she would focus all of her attention on her role as a guest of  the Queen.

I didn't see it this way at all. 

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On 11/23/2020 at 11:59 AM, WatchrTina said:

But this episode suggests that when Thatcher visited the Queen there was an expectation (by the royals) that the Prime Minister would leave ALL her responsibilities behind for the weekend (or however long they were invited) and that she would focus all of her attention on her role as a guest of  the Queen.  That seems unrealistic.  Surely the Queen has invited other Prime Ministers before?  Surely there is already an established protocol for ensuring the Prime Minister has the support he/she needs to relax during a week-end get away, while still attending to time-sensitive matters of state.  

I've no doubt that Thatcher was a fish-out-of-water during the visit but I scoff at the depiction of the visit that has been served up.

Absolutely. This visit by the Prime Minister was a yearly requirement (my brief on-line search revealed) because the Royal Family moved camp to Balmoral for 8 weeks from Aug - Sept for a holiday. The Queen reduced her work time, but meeting with her Prime Ministers was a requirement of her job, hence the visit (although I don't think it was weekly like her normal work schedule). It WAS a working visit for both the Queen and the PMs. The expectation was that it would be in a more relaxed environment (for the Queen) and that the PMs had to adjust to that. Many knew it could be an opportunity... or an ordeal. Clearly it was an ordeal for Thatcher. She wasn't a true guest because her invitation stemmed from the need to carry out the work of governance, not a desire for her (or any PM's) company. 

The whole episode being set at Balmoral was a way to contrast Thatcher and the Queen as personalities, to give a glimpse of the deterioration of the Crown/PM relationship between these two women, and to show the difference between how Thatcher "handled" the visit with how Diana handled it. I have to assume that "liberties were taken" by the show to highlight this.  ;-)

 

Edited by Anothermi · Reason: The PMs, not the MPs
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27 minutes ago, Anothermi said:

I have to assume that "liberties were taken" by the show to highlight thi

I definitely agree with that. I highly doubt that Diana and Thatcher passed each other on the Balmoral driveway. 😀

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So reading how to play "Ibble Dibble" it seems easy and fun to play. Each person has their assigned number. Just say your number then "ibble dibble" and how many burned cork marks ("dibble Ibbles") and pass it to another person's number. If you mess up just take a drink. I saw a video on YouTube of regular people playing it. It's not just for upper class. 

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I read recently that Margaret Thatcher hated the outdoors and wasting time tramping around in the rain. Her relaxing was working. She thought she could work during the day when the royals were out doing whatever, then meet them for dinner. They set her up to look like a fool. I hate people like that. 

My mother in law told me that Charles needed to find a suitable young virgin to marry to sire an heir. Diana was the perfect fit in that regard. I didn't realize that Diana's bulimia was a thing so early on. I thought it came later in the relationship. 

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Was anyone else perturbed that no one was taking Diana's feelings into consideration at all? Yes, she was clout chasing but at the end she was just a young girl. I know Charles proposed to a couple of other ladies who turned him down because they did not want the responsibility and they knew about Camilla. Someone should have told Diana about Charles' infatuation with this Camilla.

I mean they think Charles will grow to love her when he can barely stand to kiss her?

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41 minutes ago, swanpride said:

The show really overstated that part. I doubt that Charles had ever problems with kissing any pretty women.

I think it was more to do that she was so young than him not finding her pretty.

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On 11/15/2020 at 9:00 AM, swanpride said:

I am not sure who I disliked more...the stupid tests and expectations, or being so idiotic to turn up without proper shoes and then, after accepting the invitation to hunt, not asking for some proper clothing.

True, but it seemed like the housemaid (or whatever her title) who showed them to their rooms was in on the assholiness. Because as soon as the Thatchers said they didn't bring any outdoor shoes, the response I'd expect would be, "Oh, I'm so sorry, don't worry, I'll get you some." So either that servant became a dick from hanging around the royals, or they only hire dicks, or else the royals specifically instructed her, "Now listen, if they say they didn't bring any outdoor shoes, LET THEM TWIST SLOWLY IN THE WIND. Got it?"

On 11/16/2020 at 7:59 AM, Blakeston said:

There had better not be any more Diana/stag symbolism throughout the rest of this series.

I thought the wounded stag limping around, and finally having his head mounted on a wall, was meant to represent Charles.

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16 hours ago, VCRTracking said:

So reading how to play "Ibble Dibble" it seems easy and fun to play. Each person has their assigned number. Just say your number then "ibble dibble" and how many burned cork marks ("dibble Ibbles") and pass it to another person's number. If you mess up just take a drink. I saw a video on YouTube of regular people playing it. It's not just for upper class. 

I can't get past the idea that a lot of what was happening at Balmoral was just what the Windsors liked to do. And while "test" elements like "Don't sit in that chair that's right out in the open!" are unfair, pursuing your favorite activities is not necessarily setting someone up to fail. Some people are into hunting. Some people can take the stick out of their arse long enough to take part in a drinking game. 

I mean, drinking games aren't something you try to win. If you never mess up, you don't have to take a drink, and where's the fun in that? When you think of all the folderol they have to do, Trooping of the Colors and like that, the Windsors need a chance to just get silly once in a while. 

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I personally am not fond of drinking games -- they get in the way of -- DRINKING.  But that's me.   If ever I am invited to Balmoral, I would participate.   Because just as the Royals should have been good hosts, Thatcher should have been a good guest.   Thatcher with her attitude of "all work and no play" and anyone who wants to play is just FRIVOLOUS wasn't a good guest.

How can you tell Queen Victoria's chair from all the other old chairs sitting around?   It's not like the Windsors redecorate often.   

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Well, aren't they charming? And products of an inbred blood line (looking at you, George III and Victoria).

Can't say I wasn't entertained by a miserable Thatcher.

I also understand and shout out to the young women who turned away Charles. I haz old so remember him as the so-called World's Most Eligible Bachelor. Ha, somewhere, Chris Harrison just sneezed.

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On 11/15/2020 at 4:46 PM, Roseanna said:

I am not against hunting irl, but I didn't like if the stag was wounded on purpose just to get those scenes filmed.  

That wasn't a real stag, it was cgi for probably 99% of the scenes. Really wounding an animal for a tv show in this century would never happen.

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Eh, I wasn't denying the existence of the Balmoral test. Just saying that a weekend with any close-knit group will be a test, whether deliberately set up or not. You either mesh with them or you don't. I think I see this cold-bloodedly because I have a set of cousins who were very close with each other, and highly insular. I couldn't get beyond the superficial with them because I hadn't been to any of their events nor met any of their friends, and since that's all they talked about, we didn't talk much. And? By the time I was 18, I figured, forget them. I didn't need people like that. 

I mean, does it matter that much? Surely there have been PMs who didn't click, socially, with the Windsors. Did it make their job more difficult? Serious question because I don't know. But if I were in that position, I might say, "Forget those clowns: I'm Prime Minister and I was voted in." 

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21 hours ago, VCRTracking said:

So reading how to play "Ibble Dibble" it seems easy and fun to play. Each person has their assigned number. Just say your number then "ibble dibble" and how many burned cork marks ("dibble Ibbles") and pass it to another person's number. If you mess up just take a drink. I saw a video on YouTube of regular people playing it. It's not just for upper class. 

I've actually played a version of Ibble Dibble in French ("La vache qui tache") with some friends from Paris many, many years ago.  I completely got sidetracked while watching this episode trying to remember those phrases.

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22 hours ago, QuinnInND said:

I read recently that Margaret Thatcher hated the outdoors and wasting time tramping around in the rain. Her relaxing was working. She thought she could work during the day when the royals were out doing whatever, then meet them for dinner. They set her up to look like a fool. I hate people like that. 

My mother in law told me that Charles needed to find a suitable young virgin to marry to sire an heir. Diana was the perfect fit in that regard. I didn't realize that Diana's bulimia was a thing so early on. I thought it came later in the relationship. 

Diana suffered from bulimia prior to her relationship with Charles.  She also struggled with depression and that predated Charles as well.  She was messed up by her parents and her mother leaving.  She and her step mom didn't get along either. 

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2 hours ago, Lorna Mae said:

Eh, I wasn't denying the existence of the Balmoral test. Just saying that a weekend with any close-knit group will be a test, whether deliberately set up or not. You either mesh with them or you don't. I think I see this cold-bloodedly because I have a set of cousins who were very close with each other, and highly insular. I couldn't get beyond the superficial with them because I hadn't been to any of their events nor met any of their friends, and since that's all they talked about, we didn't talk much. And? By the time I was 18, I figured, forget them. I didn't need people like that. 

I mean, does it matter that much? Surely there have been PMs who didn't click, socially, with the Windsors. Did it make their job more difficult? Serious question because I don't know. But if I were in that position, I might say, "Forget those clowns: I'm Prime Minister and I was voted in." 

It's not one on one though, not a fair situation.

I'd liken it more to the mean kid popular gang at a junior high school, waiting to mock the new kids as they come in.  

I can't IMAGINE being rude to a guest, let alone laughing at them, and the idea that I would tell them what they were going to do for their time staying with me is just beyond my comprehension.  

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14 hours ago, Umbelina said:

nd the idea that I would tell them what they were going to do for their time staying with me is just beyond my comprehension.  

That's how house parties were set up.    People arrived on Thursday night or Friday morning and found the weekend Itinerary in their rooms.   Usually walks or something on Friday, get up god awful early for a hunt on Saturday, then Saturday night was a ball, or just parlor games (depending on the season and the size of the group).   Sunday was church and then more walks in the afternoon.   Monday you go home.  

Its how the upper class did things.    As someone deeply involved in politics -- as a TORY no less, Thatcher would have attended her share of weekend house parties.  The show just exaggerated her workaholic attitude to 1) show how hard she worked and how much she DISAPPROVED of relaxing and 2) to sharply contrast her with Diana who knew exactly how the game was played.   So that Diana would look all the more "of the right sort" to marry a prince.    It was pretty heavy handed story telling.

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6 hours ago, merylinkid said:

That's how house parties were set up.    People arrived on Thursday night or Friday morning and found the weekend Itinerary in their rooms.   Usually walks or something on Friday, get up god awful early for a hunt on Saturday, then Saturday night was a ball, or just parlor games (depending on the season and the size of the group).   Sunday was church and then more walks in the afternoon.   Monday you go home.  

Its how the upper class did things.    As someone deeply involved in politics -- as a TORY no less, Thatcher would have attended her share of weekend house parties.  The show just exaggerated her workaholic attitude to 1) show how hard she worked and how much she DISAPPROVED of relaxing and 2) to sharply contrast her with Diana who knew exactly how the game was played.   So that Diana would look all the more "of the right sort" to marry a prince.    It was pretty heavy handed story telling.

Then you send them a calendar before they arrive (or decline, which Thatcher was not allowed to do.)

The polite thing to do is always the kind thing to do.

Have a list of activities available, and send it early so people know what clothes to bring.  The key word here is AVAILABLE, not "REQUIRED."  Send them the clothing list too, if you are such snobs that you dress one way for drinks and another for dinner.

The idea here is to be a good host, which obviously the Royals had no intentions whatsoever of being.  Instead they deliberately invite a few people who will "fail" their childish and rude tests, so they can be amused and gossip.

It's disgusting.

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That's just it.   Someone who attend these types of house parties wouldn;t have needed a packing list before hand or even a calendar.   It's KNOWN what goes on.   We don't because we don't run in those circles.   But Thatcher once she started moving up in the party leadership most definitely would have known.    The Royals house parties are a lot like ALL the upper class parties.   Because they all went to the same schools as the upper classes, and their friends all came from the upper classes.   Now a LABOUR party PM might not have known but a TORY PM, most definitely would have known.    Her not knowing how it worked was just another example of creative license in the show.

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Well, it is true that Thatcher hated it, so I guess at the very least the part that she disliked the games, the conversations aso is true, and I doubt that she owned proper hunting clothing ever. But the part with not knowing how to dress is certainly iffy, and at least the chair exist, though I doubt that Thatcher sat on it.

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7 hours ago, swanpride said:

Well, it is true that Thatcher hated it, so I guess at the very least the part that she disliked the games, the conversations aso is true, and I doubt that she owned proper hunting clothing ever. But the part with not knowing how to dress is certainly iffy, and at least the chair exist, though I doubt that Thatcher sat on it.

Oh she didn't like it.   That is not disputed.   But the show took very creative license with her not knowing that was how it worked.   She knew.  She didn't approve of such frivolity but she knew.

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On 11/25/2020 at 7:04 PM, Umbelina said:

Then you send them a calendar before they arrive (or decline, which Thatcher was not allowed to do.)

The polite thing to do is always the kind thing to do.

Have a list of activities available, and send it early so people know what clothes to bring.  The key word here is AVAILABLE, not "REQUIRED."  Send them the clothing list too, if you are such snobs that you dress one way for drinks and another for dinner.

The idea here is to be a good host, which obviously the Royals had no intentions whatsoever of being.  Instead they deliberately invite a few people who will "fail" their childish and rude tests, so they can be amused and gossip.

It's disgusting.

And it's also fiction.  Reading the comments it appears that people are, by and large, taking everything that appears on screen as historical fact.  It's not.  This is largely fiction.  We have no idea what information MT was given prior to arrival or how she was actually treated.  There are several articles that do confirm that she did not have "outdoor shoes" and was given wellies while at Balmoral.  I've found no confirmation of the actual scene where she shows up in bright blue trench and heels, or the rest of that scene.  So in real life, did she need wellies just for wandering about the gardens, or was she invited out on a hunt?  We don't know.  Same with the "dressing for dinner" scene - there's nothing from a historical standpoint to confirm MT was set up to be embarrassed by the royals.  But it makes for good TV, especially as the contrast to Diana.  The "Queen Victoria's chair" scene was made up, but it was based on accounts that other guests had made that mistake. 

I'm more interested in whether MT knew outdoor activities were likely, but purposely not pack outdoor shoes, hoping to use it as an excuse, or if she truly was caught off guard and was naively unprepared.  I prefer to think the former. 

The Brits laugh at Americans, saying we are viewing The Crown as a historical documentary, and episode threads like this make them perfectly justified!

 

 

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...I think most of us are aware that it is fiction. In fact, multiple of us pointed out scenes which seemed to be too over the top. But that doesn't change the fact that those tests in itself are apparently real.

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3 hours ago, swanpride said:

...I think most of us are aware that it is fiction. In fact, multiple of us pointed out scenes which seemed to be too over the top. But that doesn't change the fact that those tests in itself are apparently real.

Indeed.  I think it is rather bemusing that some Brits think Americans can't tell the difference between fact and fiction.  

Edited by PeterPirate
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On 11/15/2020 at 2:16 PM, Pepper Mostly said:

Same. She's shown to be a meticulously prepared hard worker. But she gets to Balmoral and she doesn't have a clue? Its just like the scenes with Lyndon Johnson not knowing which fork to use. I get that its for exposition but its insulting to both Johnson, who was a sharp and savvy politician, not some rube, and Thatcher, who, love her or hate her, was not naive. 

It reminded me of how S2 made the Kennedys look like hayseeds when meeting the royals.  This show is not subtle about exaggerating for effect.  ::eyeroll::

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On 11/18/2020 at 7:53 AM, Ohiopirate02 said:

And that is the advice that Margaret gives her.  There is always going to be a crisis, and the country will pull through like it always does.  

It would perhaps be different if the activities were something the PM could enjoy, but mucking about stalking stags while her work piles up would be extremely stressful to a workaholic.  

They do have some things in common though.

crown2z.jpg.4c9852ef40763353ab86ec8921fa62c4.jpg

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On 11/16/2020 at 9:12 PM, DarkHorse said:

I am not enjoying this season as much as other seasons. I do not feel any sympathy at all for the Royals anymore and watching them play stupid party games and even Margaret who was once more down to Earth just behave like a stuck up bitch isn't interesting at all. 

I was surprised by Diana being ok with killing the stag. It seems to fly in the face of her kind image. 

As much as they were playing games with her, she was playing her own. 

I also believe that Thatcher would have been far better prepared. I think the writers are enjoying making her look bad due to her being a Conservative. 

 

 

I'm having trouble getting into this season, too.  There's so many miserable characters.  Knowing how many train wrecks lie ahead of everyone doesn't help matters either.

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30 minutes ago, Courtney said:

I'm having trouble getting into this season, too.  There's so many miserable characters.  Knowing how many train wrecks lie ahead of everyone doesn't help matters either.

I loved the season, even though there certainly wasn't much happiness around.  I felt it all held together so much more than last year.

Lots of unpleasant people though, to be sure.  This episode showed that in spades.

Edited by Umbelina
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On 11/24/2020 at 12:29 PM, Milburn Stone said:

True, but it seemed like the housemaid (or whatever her title) who showed them to their rooms was in on the assholiness. Because as soon as the Thatchers said they didn't bring any outdoor shoes, the response I'd expect would be, "Oh, I'm so sorry, don't worry, I'll get you some." So either that servant became a dick from hanging around the royals, or they only hire dicks, or else the royals specifically instructed her, "Now listen, if they say they didn't bring any outdoor shoes, LET THEM TWIST SLOWLY IN THE WIND. Got it?"

I thought the wounded stag limping around, and finally having his head mounted on a wall, was meant to represent Charles.

Although the Royals were set up as petty mean girls throughout the ep, snickering at her dressing early for dinner and not telling her she needs to change her clothes until after you're in the middle of nowhere etc., Thatcher had her own chip going in as well. To me it felt like one of those situations where the middle class has more friction with the people above and below them than they have with each other.

For instance, with the servant, yes, she could have explained to Thatcher that she might need the shoes--or Thatcher could have asked if it would be a problem. But Thatcher's reaction to the servant throughout was pretty haughty. She said something like, "What an odd thing to say to someone" about the shoes, as if the servant couldn't possibly have been saying anything worth listening to, and earlier was outright offended that the woman dared to start to unpack her husband's suitcase because "that's a wife's job" according to Thatcher's conservative, sexist, middle-class worldview.

The scene I mostly didn't buy was Margaret dressing her down, since it not only was too OTT, but I thought Thatcher would have had a comeback for it. I found myself wanting Thatcher to a)  ask Margaret what on earth she would know about the value of taking time off when she'd never worked enough to need one and b) tell her if she didn't stop telling her not to sit in Queen Victoria's chair she was going to take a shit on it.

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lol...

yeah, I think the servants reacted to the behaviour of Thatcher. NEVER anger the hired help.

I am not sure if real live Thatcher would have dressed down a royal, because she was still a royalist at the end of the day.

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10 hours ago, swanpride said:

lol...

yeah, I think the servants reacted to the behaviour of Thatcher. NEVER anger the hired help.

I am not sure if real live Thatcher would have dressed down a royal, because she was still a royalist at the end of the day.

Oh you're right, she totally wouldn't. Though she did eventually learn how to throw shade at the Queen. This was pretty early, though. Plus, I guess she did respect the chair!

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Stick to discussion of the episode, please. Discussion or mention of future events is NOT ALLOWED in episode topics, including mention of individuals who have not yet appeared or events that occur in future decades. Posts will be removed; repeated violations may incur further sanctions.

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