Margaret Thatcher isn’t exactly the most sympathetic political leader in history, but it was hard not to feel sorry for her during The Crown’s deeply awkward Balmoral episode—where the prime minister visited the royals and was greeted with (a) rudeness, (b) snobbery, and (c) the ~BALMORAL TEST~. Which, yes, goes down at Balmoral Castle, aka this not-at-all-intimidating place where the royals spend their summers:
In The Crown, Thatcher fully fails the Balmoral test while Diana passes easily. But the question remains *dramatic pause*…
What! Is! The! Balmoral! Test?!
According to The Telegraph, it’s an unspoken set of social rules and codes upon which visitors to Balmoral Castle in Scotland are judged. For example, The Crown shows Thatcher failing it when she comes downstairs in full black-tie way too early in the evening. But it’s not just about getting the outfit changes right: Guests also have to remember royal protocol, and they need to know how to hunt, where to sit (read: not Queen Victoria’s chair), what party games to play—it’s a whole THING.
Biographer Andrew Morton pretty much sums it up in his book Diana: Her True Story:
“Ever since Queen Victoria bought the estate in 1848, it has had a special place in the affections of the royal family. However, the very quirks and obscure family traditions which have accrued over the years can intimidate newcomers. ‘Don’t sit there’ they chorus at an unfortunate guest foolish enough to try and sit in a chair in the drawing room which was last used by Queen Victoria.…Those who successfully navigate this social minefield, popularly known as the Balmoral test, are accepted by the royal family.”
As for how accurate reports of the test are on the show, Thatcher’s biographer Charles Moore told The Telegraph that the “broad impression” has “the ring of truth,” so…basically, they nailed it.
Who Has Passed the Balmoral Test?
Well, Diana, for one! With flying colors, although it didn’t exactly spell success within the royal family. More recent royal additions, like Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, also endured the Balmoral test—presumably passing with flying colors. But the question remains: Would YOU pass the test?
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