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Breaking Down The ‘Sunday Times’ Story From ‘The Crown’ That Pitted The Queen Against Thatcher

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Breaking Down The ‘Sunday Times’ Story From ‘The Crown’ That Pitted The Queen Against Thatcher

When I first began diving into the Internet archives to look up the original Sunday Times piece that informed the world of a wedge between Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over economic sanctions against South Africa in 1986, I was sure it would be a no-brainer to look up.

But surprisingly, the story is fairly hidden. God save the Queen as to why. But alas, I was curious about how The Crown's portrayal of the exposé in Season 4, Episode 8 "48:1" compared to the real life scandal.

So how did the story go down? I pieced it together vis a vis contemporary papers of the time and the backlash the inflammatory piece received.

Backstory of the Supposed Infighting

As we learn in "48:1," Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is in fact the one vote against the 48 other countries in the Commonwealth committed to imposing sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Like historian Carolyn Harris predicted, The Crown does not shy away from Queen Elizabeth II's "fervent hope that Britain will join the other countries of the Commonwealth" to depose a government that "has no place in the modern world," as she relays to the PM on a yacht in the Bahamas during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

As Harris ascertained and The Crown depicts, the Queen "sought advice from other Commonwealth Prime Ministers on this issue." She asserts to Thatcher, who refuses sanctions because she believes Britain's economy would in turn be devastated, that "the 48 countries of the Commonwealth are preparing a statement condemning the regime and recommending tougher sanctions. What they, what I, would like you to do is sign that statement."

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