In the finale of The Crown season 4, the long-overdue breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage plays out alongside a political meltdown at 10 Downing Street. After three successive election victories made her the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher fell from power in a sudden and dramatic series of events that saw her ousted by her own party. Here’s the true story of what happened.
Thatcher’s longest-serving cabinet minister, Geoffrey Howe, caused her downfall.
After many years of loyal service, including positions as foreign secretary and deputy prime minister, Howe began to back away from Thatcher. Writing in The Observer, political journalist Andrew Rawnsley detailed the “increasingly visible differences” between Howe and Thatcher, noting that “a chasm [had] opened up between them over Europe.” Howe was a passionate believer in “the European ideal,” whereas Thatcher was “accelerating on her journey towards europhobia.”
In 1989, this tension came to a head when Thatcher dismissed Howe as foreign secretary over Britain’s entry into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Howe had threatened to resign unless Thatcher agreed to Britain joining the EERM, but Rawnsley notes that Thatcher “thought—rightly, as it turned out—that the ERM was going