According to the Evening Standard, Queen Elizabeth II is no stranger to working relationships as she has worked with 14 prime ministers throughout her reign. When the queen took the throne back in 1952, she may not have fully understood how many politicians would cross her path throughout her lifetime. She has also outlived multiple presidents. But many Anglophiles know that her goal is always to forge a unique partnership with the current prime minister. While her first-ever prime minister, Winston Churchill, may have given her a run for her money, she learned to work alongside each of them in her own way.
The queen has only worked with two female prime ministers, Teresa May and Margaret Thatcher (via History Extra). Her relationship with the latter has constantly been scrutinized and gone over with a magnifying glass since, to many, it looked like the two women were constantly at odds. But were they political enemies or just two women who loved their country?
A complicated standoff
The complicated relationship is believed to have stemmed from the palace thinking that Margaret Thatcher was vulgar and the prime minister believing that royalty was not needed (via Harper’s Bazaar). In her memoir, Thatcher touched on their frosty relationship but admitted that the queen always knew her duty and was always up to date on current issues, saying, “Of course, under the circumstances, stories of clashes between ‘two powerful women’ were just too good not to make up. In general, more nonsense was written about the so-called ‘feminine factor’ during my time in office than about almost anything else” (via The Washington Post).
In July of 1986, The Sunday Times reported that the queen was “dismayed by ‘uncaring’ Thatcher.” This headline caused a major disturbance in Britain. The main issue boiled down to the queen believing that a compromise must be reached between her own prime minister and the other Commonwealth leaders. The outlet reported that Thatcher was “crushed” by the story.
A mutual respect forged through time
While there may be some truth to the notion that the women didn’t always see eye to eye, it would seem that they had formed an unlikely bond by the end of Thatcher’s time in office. The Netflix hit “The Crown” shared a touching moment between the two in which Queen Elizabeth awarded her the Order of the Garter and the Order of Merit. Recipients of this award are chosen personally by the Sovereign to honor those who have held public office, and only 24 people at a time can hold the honor (per Town & Country). It is also important to note that in 2005 the queen accepted an invitation to Lady Thatcher’s 80th birthday party ( via The Guardian). Scholars noted that she could have easily turned down the offer with her busy schedule but instead chose to honor the birthday girl with an unorthodox appearance. The queen often keeps her opinions close to her chest, so royal lovers may never really know the truth behind their unlikely friendship.
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