Margaret Thatcher’s favorite child was the boy’s spoiled boy, who couldn’t do anything wrong, although he repeatedly embarrassed her and reported that he was trying to trade her power as British prime minister to make his fortune.
Played by Freddie Fox in the fourth season of Netflix’s “The Crown,” which premiered last week, Mark Thatcher faced right and arrogance while getting lost during the 1982 Paris-Dakar car rally. His wanderings in the real desert caused a massive international search and concave the steel facade of the Iron Lady. When her son disappeared, Margaret was seen crying in public for the first and only time during her nearly 1
Margaret – who had been in power for nearly three years at the time of the desert disappearance – admitted in interviews that “my heart stopped” when she realized that her son, then 28, and her twins’ “favorite”, had disappeared when he and his teammates got lost in the Sahara Desert on January 8, 1982. The notorious strict prime minister was so shaken by the news that she canceled a high-level meeting with the Hungarian foreign minister and retired to her home on 10 Downing St. in London.
In The Crown, Margaret (played by Gillian Anderson) allows herself to be cared for during one of her personal aunts-a-aunts with Queen Elizabeth, when with teary eyes she calls Mark “a very special child – a kind of son a mother would dream of having . “
Favoring is painfully obvious to Mark’s twin, Carol (played by Rebecca Humphreys), who confronts her mother in a memorable scene. In real life, Carol was also clearly focused on preferences. “Unloved is not the right word, but I never felt I made the assessment,” she told The Independent.
Even as prime minister, Margaret washed Mark’s shirts, “squeezed them, and folded them neatly into small plastic travel bags,” his wife, Sarah-Jane, recalls.
While Margaret was fascinated by her son – “He could sell snow to the Eskimos and sand to the Arabs”, she once blurted out – his apparent willingness to use his powerful position to make lucrative deals was considered the responsibility of her leaders.
Mark was the leader’s Achilles heel, and her aides knew that her own desire to help him at any cost threatened her authority.
When Mark asked Margaret’s press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, how he could help his mother win the 1987 general election, the answer was quick: “Leave the country,” he said.
Mark and Carol were born on August 15, 1953, the same year that their 28-year-old mother, who had strong political ambitions, qualified as a lawyer. Their father, businessman Dennis Thatcher, was at a cricket match during the difficult birth, according to reports. By the time the twins became 6, Margaret had become a member of parliament; a year later, Mark and Carol were sent to luxury boarding schools.
While his sister began a successful career as a journalist, Mark, a mediocre student, studied to be an accountant, but reportedly failed his qualifying exams three times. He moved to Hong Kong to pursue business interests and in 1977, at the age of 24, founded Mark Thatcher Racing. Although the company was plagued by financial problems, he took part in a handful of 24-hour endurance races in Le Mans, smashing his Osella race car during a race in June 1980. He left unscathed.
A few months earlier, Mark had started trading his mother’s fame as Britain’s first female prime minister – agreeing to model clothes for a Japanese textile company in exchange for sponsoring the company.
The move was not welcome in the United Kingdom, which was at the height of Margaret’s fiscal policy, which led to widespread unemployment. The National Union of Tailors and Clothing Workers called the Prime Minister’s son “shameless” to advertise foreign clothes at a time when more than 15,000 British textile workers were unemployed.
Although he reportedly received up to £ 40,000 for a set of Japanese TV commercials promoting Cutty Sark whiskey, Mark denied it.
But racing was his passion and he soon returned to the track, this time agreeing, he later admitted, with almost no preparation for the Paris-Dakar car rally: a grueling 6,200-mile race through some of the world’s best inhospitable terrain in North Africa.
“Now I was racing in Le Mans and other things – this rally is not a problem,” said a cheeky Mark to reporters.
Shortly after leaving Paris on January 1, 1982, Mark, teammate Anne-Charlotte Verney and a mechanic disappeared somewhere in Algeria near the border with Mali. His mother called the British ambassador to Algeria and launched international rescue operations, including French planes, a RAF Hercules rescue helicopter and the Algerian Air Force. Dennis flew to North Africa to help find his son.
Mark and his teammates were spotted by an Algerian Air Force plane six days later. With their drinking water dangerously low in the hot desert, they were rescued by the military on January 14. Mark arrogantly picked up the experience and refused to thank his Algerian rescuers, saying all he needed was a “beer and sandwich, a bath and a shave” to get back on track. (It is not known how the team got lost.)
After the rescue, Mark, his crew in Paris-Dakar and his father celebrated in Tamanrasset, Algeria, accumulating dinner and drink bills totaling more than 11,500 Algerian dinars – a small fortune in the poor country. Dennis and Mark later flew to London on Algeria’s presidential plane.
Files released in 2012 show that Margaret reimbursed the British government £ 1784.80 for the rescue operation to avoid allegations that she allowed taxpayers to pay the bills for her son’s misdeeds.
“I hope this is the last of Mark’s car races,” Carol told the Daily Express. “Mom can do without the hassle.”
But trouble was dangerously close to ending her administration.
In Oman, Mark set up a consulting firm and claimed to be trading in his mother’s name to secure a multimillion-dollar deal for Cementation International, which he represents, to build a university, a contract worth hundreds of millions of pounds. The participants in the contract complained that Margaret used her influence with high-level government officials in Oman to help her son’s company. When the deal was unveiled in 1984, the prime minister’s closest advisers urged Mark to leave the country immediately.
Margaret’s private secretary, Robin Butler, later told his biographer that Margaret agreed to help her son because “she wanted to see Mark right. She looked for a deal for Mark.
Mark ended up in Dallas, Texas, where he met and married millionaire Diane Burgdorf in 1984, when he was 31. After meeting at a party, Burgdorf, then 24, noted that their first conversation was about his mother. “I thought that anyone who loved their mother so much must have been raised well,” she wrote in the Evening Standard.
But a few years later, Burgdorf saw Mark as a “megalomaniac.” “At airports, he was like Sherman’s tank,” she wrote in 2006. “He will just ruin people. I would be after him, apologizing. ”
He also did not intend to break into the restaurant’s kitchen if his food was delayed or to ask one of his mother’s bodyguards to buy him a carton of milk, Burgdorf said.
The couple, who had two children, divorced due to Mark’s numerous infidelities and shady business deals, Burgdorf said. “He was incredibly selfish, putting his own needs for self-fulfillment, greed and lust in front of his family,” she told The Independent in 2008.
There have been other deals in which he claims he sought to trade his mother’s influence, including the purchase of weapons between the Saudi government and British Aerospace, which he claims has brought him $ 19 million. It was part of a series of arms sales to the Saudis under Margaret, known as Al Yamama, and cost tens of billions of pounds. Four years after his mother left office, Mark denied involvement.
More than a decade later, allegedly prosecuted by the IRS for unpaid corporate taxes and failed business deals in the United States, Mark rented a mansion in Cape Town, South Africa, and continued his business. In 2003, after the death of his father, he took the hereditary title of Dennis and became Sir Mark Thatcher. A year later, he became embroiled in a coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. The country has some of the largest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mark was convicted and fined by South African courts for aiding the financing of the coup, organized by a group of British businessmen. Authorities who arrested him under South Africa’s anti-mercenary laws revealed that Mark had transferred nearly $ 300,000 to mercenaries planning the coup. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to four years probation and fined $ 560,000.
Although his finances continue to be a source of speculation in the British press, Mark, now 67, has held a low level since he married his second wife, Sarah-Jane Clemens Russell, in 2008 when Margaret died in 2013. , Mark returned to London for the funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
But in 2016, Mark’s name resurfaced in The Panama Papers, a series of leaked documents containing information about the offshore farms of some of the world’s richest people who hire the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to house their assets. Mark is listed as the actual owner of a trust that owns a house in Barbados, where his family rests annually. Trust was hidden behind a complex network.
“He is so absorbed in himself that he puts his desires and needs above everything,” Burgdorf said. “He’s very Clinton.”