Margaret Thatcher 'disgusting' for saluting Falkands soldiers

Margaret Thatcher was ‘disgusting’ for breaking tradition and taking the salute from the returning soldiers in the Falkland victory parade and the Queen ‘would’ve raised more than an eyebrow’, Lord Owen claims

  • Lord Owen branded Margaret Thatcher ‘disgusting’ for breaking from tradition
  • Referred to moment took salute from returning soldiers in Falkands victory parade 
  • Churchill had speculated on Elizabeth’s destiny and in 1928, he wrote to his wife Clementine about the young Princess, aged two: ‘She has an air of authority’
  • Royals Declassified: Queen Elizabeth: Politics, Power and Prime Ministers, will air on Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm 

Lord Owen branded Margaret Thatcher ‘disgusting’ for breaking from tradition and taking the salute from the returning soldiers in the Falkands victory parade and claimed the Queen would’ve thought the lesser of the ‘Iron Lady.’

Royals Declassified: Queen Elizabeth: Politics, Power and Prime Ministers, which airs on Channel 4, Sunday, 9pm, examines how the Queen has dealt with personalities as varied as Winston Churchill, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher. 

It also looks into how the balance of power shifted back and forth over the years – particularly when Thatcher became a war leader and saw herself as the symbol of Britain.  

‘Disgusting,’ says ex-health minister Lord Owen, speaking of the moment the ‘Iron Lady’ took the salute from the returning soldier in June 1982. ‘Shabby is probably a better word than disgusting. 

‘I think the Queen would’ve raised more than an eyebrow. I doubt she ever said anything about it, but she would’ve thought the lesser of Margaret Thatcher, it was outrageous.’ 

Lord Owen (pictured) branded Margaret Thatcher ‘disgusting’ for breaking from tradition and taking the salute from the returning soldiers in the Falkands victory parade and claimed the Queen would’ve thought the lesser of the ‘Iron Lady.’ 

The documentary looks into how the balance of power shifted back and forth over the years – particularly when Thatcher became a war leader and saw herself as the symbol of Britain. Pictured, 

In series four of The Crown, Gillian Anderson, who plays Margaret Thatcher, can be see recreating that moment

By 1979, the Queen had been on the throne for 27 years – yet her eighth Prime Minister would test her like no other – forcing her to draw on all of her political experience and patience. 

Thatcher set about revolutionising Britain in 1979.

Edwina Currie, who was Under Secretary of State for Health 1986-88, comments:  ‘In most of the photographs, she’s the only woman, surrounded by men. She never had another woman in the Cabinet and she became Queen bee.’ 

Meanwhile, biographer Penny Junor adds: ‘She was able to flirt – and she was very good at that. She used her femininity very cleverly – but you can’t flirt with the Queen.’

Two strong women of similar age in the top jobs, but that posed the question – who held the balance of power?

‘I suspect Her Majesty would start off by saying, “it’s been a very interesting week Prime Minister, hasn’t it?” As an opening gambit,’ notes Edwina. ‘And Margaret would use that as cue to talk, and talk and talk.’

But in July 1979, Thatcher had her first run-in with the Palace. With the Commonwealth heads of meeting due to be held in Lusaka the following month, Thatcher, while in Australia, publicly stated she had the right to advise the Queen whether it was safe to visit Zambia.

In series four of The Crown, Gillian Anderson, who plays Margaret Thatcher, can be see recreating that moment

Margaret Thatcher pictured with the British forces visiting the Falkland Islands in January 1983 

It was a move which declassified documents now reveal showed Thatcher’s ignorance of the Queen’s friendship with Zambia’s president Kenneth Kaunda.

Dean Palmer, author of The Queen and Mrs Thatcher, comments: ‘As soon as the queen got wind of it, she announced independently she was going to go to the Commonwealth conference and Mrs Thatcher, who was flying back from Tokyo at the time got off the plane and found the Queen trumped her in the press.’ 

A week or so later, another declassified briefing document reveals Thatcher’s embarrassing U-turn – now she would no longer be advising the Queen not to go to Zambia. 

Left to right: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, French President Francois Mitterrand (1916 – 1996) and Queen Elizabeth II during an EEC summit in London, 6th December 1986

Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher attend a ball to celebrate the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting hosted by President Kenneth Kaunda on August 01, 1979 in Lusaka, Zambia

However, in July 1986, any private divisions between Thatcher and the Queen were thrown in the public spotlight after The Sunday Times plashed an article which claimed the Queen was at odds with No.10. 

It reported the Queen was disturbed by the lack of compassion of Thatcher-right policies and that the Thatcher government was jeopardising the consensus that underpinned British domestic politics.

Never before had there been such a public rift between Monarch and First Minister. 

Thatcher never spoke publically about the incident and a recently released letter reveals she intended to maintain a ‘dignified silence’ over the matter.  

The documentary, which explores the contents of recently declassified documents that record the events of the Queen’s meetings with various prime ministers throughout her reign, also takes a look at Winston Churchill – the Queen’s sixth monarch. 

The Queen at 10 Downing Street to celebrate 250 years of it being the official residence of the British Prime Minister, with leaders past and present (l to r) James Callaghan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Margaret Thatcher, Harold Macmillan, Harold Wilson and Ted Heath

British statesman Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) speaks at the opening of the International Youth Centre at Chigwell, Essex, in the presence of Princess Elizabeth, who performed the opening ceremony, 12th July 1951

Devastated by the death of King George VI, Churchill worried how the inexperienced young monarch would bear the weight of responsibility. 

However, a recently declassified letter reveals that almost since birth, Churchill had speculated on Elizabeth’s destiny. 

In 1928, he wrote to his wife Clementine about the young Princess, aged just two: ‘She has an air of authority and reflectiveness – astonishing in an infant.’

On November 4, 1952, the astonishing infant came of age – and Churchill’s early sceptism quickly faded.  

And the real test for the relationship was on the weekly audience – although little is said about them, the diary of the Queen’s private secretary – Tommy Lascelles, is revealing.

He penned: ‘When Winston had his weekly audience in the Bow room, I could not hear what they talked about, but it was more often than not, punctuated with peels of laughter, and Winston genuinely came out, wiping his eyes.’ 

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