What Is The Ibble Dibble Game? Meet ‘The Crown’ Drinking Game Perfect For Any Dysfunctional Family

- The Crown -
What Is The Ibble Dibble Game? Meet ‘The Crown’ Drinking Game Perfect For Any Dysfunctional Family

Number five ibble-dibble with one dibble-ibble, calling number four ibble-dibble with two dibble-ibbles. Sorry, come again?

No, I'm not speaking gibberish here. This is the gist of the quintessential tongue-twister of the Ibble Dibble Game, a parlor favorite of the royal family we see them attempt to play with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when she comes to visit at Balmoral in the second episode, "The Balmoral Test," of Season 4 of The Crown.

After dinner, Queen Elizabeth II suggests they retire and take part in the party game, the royal family's tamer version of "Boar on the Floor" that is clearly out of the realms of fun Thatcher resides in. Speaking quickly, sculling drinks, and rubbing your face with a burnt cork are all par for the course, but Thatcher recites at a snail's pace when it's her turn (clearly not understanding the way the game works) and found the evening of laughs an utter waste of time.

The Queen tosses the performance up to nerves, but even when bidding goodnight to Philip, she can't help but agree with her husband that the Prime Minister was "rather hopeless" at ibble-dibbling.

Well, for those of us who do like to play drinking games with our families and friends, especially as we head into this holiday season, how would one go about their ibble-dibbles, or avoid garnering any extraneous dibble-ibbles? Imagine you're opening up a Monopoly instruction manual and turn to Page 1.


Gather a group of loved ones and sit in a circle. Going clockwise, everyone claims a number. Grab a lighter and burn the end of a cork till it's dark and black, just how I like the outside of our toasted marshmallows. Blow it out and fill your glasses to the brim with your choice of alcohol.



A player in the game.


A mark made on a player's face with the blackened cork.


A faux pas. Anne shouts that the Queen Mother "bibbled" when she fumbles her words in the game, so she has to take a swig from her drink. The Queen Mother quite enjoyed these nights of merriment in her day, as Marion Bailey, who portrays the royal, shared with Netflix. "She’s always a good-time girl who likes her food, drink, horses, music and a good party."

How to Play

The first player in the group names themselves by their number, "number one ibble-dibble," and identifies how many marks they have on their face, "with two dibble-ibbles." Next, they call another player in the circle and cite how many marks they have, "calling number four ibble-dibble with no dibble-ibbles." And the cycle goes on.

But any mistake or pause would mandate the player to drink and try again. The player who makes the mistake also puts a dibble-ibble on their face with the cork. No one is allowed allowed to count the marks on another player's face aloud (unlike Prince Philip in the episode, who counts the Queen Mother's).

For example, Princess Margaret recites, "Number three ibble-dibble (herself) with two dibble-ibbles (black marks on her face) calling number one ibble-dibble (Margaret Thatcher) with no dibble-ibbles (Thatcher has no black marks on her face)." She doesn't make a blunder or pause, so she receives no dibble-ibbles on her face and passes the cork along to the PM.

Thatcher, of course, is painstaking in trying to fulfill the game's requirements, while clearly not having the most jolly of a time. The royal family tries to clap along as she goes to cheer her on, but she continues to swing for the monotone fences, not getting the "harmless fun" memo whatsoever.

How Does It End?

When the party is drunk enough and there's no more room on the players' faces for dibble-ibble marks. Some non-royal partygoers even head out on the town with their cork marks still on their faces, intentionally causing quite a cheeky stir.

As far as The Crown is concerned, the party scene ended right after Margaret Thatcher's turn, where we cut to Philip asking the Queen, "What was she doing?" I doubt if she even knew.


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Images: Netflix

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