Queen ‘Brenda’ was not amused by Thatcher’s sanctions style for SA
The UK’s Queen Elizabeth II was so angry in 1987 about then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to back sanctions against apartheid SA that she considered scrapping their weekly meetings.
Files declassified under the UK’s 30-year rule reveal that the monarch believed Thatcher had damaged "her Commonwealth" by refusing to support hard line sanctions‚ MailOnline reported on Friday.
It said her anger erupted after a 1987 Commonwealth heads of government summit in Canada‚ where tighter sanctions against SA were discussed. A Buckingham Palace official briefed Irish diplomat Richard Ryan on the situation‚ and he reported back to the Irish prime minister. It is Ryan’s memo which has now been released.
During the Vancouver talks‚ 47 other leaders agreed to increase pressure on SA to end apartheid, but Thatcher refused‚ and Britain was blamed for thwarting the move.
The conference ended in bitterness and recriminations among presidents and prime ministers from Britain’s former colonies‚ MailOnline reported. Thatcher was seen as having "blundered badly"‚ said Ryan‚ adding, "She well knows but cannot admit her mistake".
The chargé d’affaires at Ireland’s embassy in London wrote: "There is a wide view, too, that the queen is in a rage with Mrs Thatcher over her handling of the sanctions question [not because of the substance of the argument but because of its style: the queen‚ it is said‚ sees the insensitivity as further damaging ‘her’ Commonwealth at a sensitive time]."
The queen was so angry she considered scrapping her weekly audience with Thatcher‚ the palace source told Ryan. The queen can use the audience to express her views on government matters.
Ryan — referring to the queen as Brenda‚ a nickname coined by the satirical magazine Private Eye — reported: "A source in the palace said that ‘Brenda’ was seriously considering canceling last night’s Tuesday audience with the prime minister. This audience is a standard matter‚ as regular as cabinet meetings‚ which has existed for more than a century."