Margaret Thatcher was frightened of the Queen, ex-Times editor reveals
The Queen was ‘the only person in the world’ who Margaret Thatcher was frightened of – and the Prime Minister would drink a large scotch before her weekly audience with the monarch, ex-Times editor reveals
- Revelations were made by former political editor Julian Haviland
- He also revealed how the Queen was left ‘horrified’ by the Battle of Orgreave
The late Queen was the ‘only person in the world who Margaret Thatcher was frightened of’, a former political editor of The Times has revealed.
Julian Haviland, who worked for the newspaper between 1981 and 1986, told how Mrs Thatcher, who was Prime Minister throughout the 1980s, would drink a large scotch or two before her weekly audience with Her Majesty to settle her nerves.
Mr Haviland was speaking in an interview with Times Radio which aired this morning and was recorded just weeks before his death earlier this month aged 93.
He also revealed how the Queen was left ‘horrified’ by the Battle of Orgreave and described the violent clashes between mounted police and striking miners in 1984 as ‘awful’.
The retired journalist recalled interviewing Mrs Thatcher in Downing Street and being struck by the amount of whisky she was drinking.
The late Queen was the ‘only person in the world who Margaret Thatcher was frightened of’, a former political editor of The Times has revealed. Pictured: The pair in Zambia for the Commonwealth conference of 1979
‘After she finished she took an extremely large scotch. Margaret had quite a capacity,’ he said.
He added that he believed she started a second before he left. He told his boss, Charles Douglas-Home, the then editor of The Times, that he he thought this was because he had ‘shaken her a little’.
But Douglas-Home said believed she was drinking because she was about to see the Queen.
‘It was Tuesday at 5pm and her next engagement was her weekly audience with the Queen,’ Mr Haviland said.
‘The one person in the world of whom Margaret Thatcher was frightened was the Queen. That’s why she downed a lot.’
Speaking of his claims about the Queen’s reaction to the police’s clashes with miners, Mr Haviland said: ‘The Queen was watching on telly and when the horses rode through some of the miners and knocked a few down, the Queen said words [to the effect of] “Oh, that’s awful! Oh, we shouldn’t do that.”
‘And [for] the Queen to make a political comment like that was news.’
Julian Haviland, who worked for the newspaper between 1981 and 1986, told how Mrs Thatcher, who was Prime Minister throughout the 1980s, would drink a large scotch or two before her weekly audience with Her Majesty to settle her nerves. Pictured: The Queen and Mrs Thatcher at Downing Street with former PMs James Callaghan, Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Macmillan, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath in 1985, during celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of Number 10 being the official residence of the Prime Minister
The violence erupted between 10,000 policemen and 5,000 picketing miners at a British Steel coking plant near Rotherham in a struggle which saw nearly 100 miners charged.
The interventions by mounted police led to 123 injuries in one of the most controversial moments of the 1980s miners’ strikes.
Mr Haviland said his story was not published after he advised doing so would incriminate his source – because there were only two other people in the room when the Queen spoke.
The prosecution of all 95 miners who had been charged collapsed after concerns emerged about police statements.
Mrs Thatcher and Her Majesty are believed to have had a difficult relationship, despite the fact the PM was an arch-royalist.
Documentary maker Michael Cockerell previously told how they ‘rubbed each other up the wrong way’.
Whilst Mrs Thatcher would always turn up to her weekly audiences with the Queen 15 minutes early, Her Majesty would keep her waiting for that exact length of time rather than admitting her early.
According to Hello! Magazine’s late former royal editor, Judy Wade, Mrs Thatcher once ordered an aide to phone Buckingham Palace on the day that she and the Queen were due to attend the same evening function.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at Lord Mountbatten’s memorial service in 1983
Mrs Thatcher and Her Majesty are believed to have had a difficult relationship, despite the fact the PM was an arch-royalist
The PM was said to be concerned about wearing a similar dress to the monarch. But the ‘withering’ response that came back from royal aides was that Mrs Thatcher should not ‘fret’, because ‘the Queen never notices what other women wear’.
In 1986, The Sunday Times reported that Mrs Thatcher’s social policies were causing the Queen ‘dismay’, and added that the PM’s alleged negative attitude to the Commonwealth had also caused upset.
The Queen’s Press Secretary Michael Shea was blamed for the story, which Her Majesty is said to have been horrified by.
He was later forced to sit next to Mrs Thatcher at a dinner at Holyrood House, where he apologised.
Whilst she told him not to worry, Shea left his role soon after.
Mr Cockerell said his departure was ‘the way these things are done by the Palace’, although the aide denied that him leaving had anything to do with the controversy.
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