Is the Balmoral test real and did Margaret Thatcher actually take part?

What does The Crown's Balmoral test entail?

The Crown
(Image credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

If you've been binge-watching the Crown on Netflix over the last few days then you'll probably have a few questions about which parts are true, and which have been dramatized. 

One question viewers are asking is if the Balmoral test, that Margaret Thatcher takes in the show, is in fact a real test. Well for you royal fans, the answer is yes.

In fact, royals including Diana, Kate Middleton and even Kate's mother Carol Middleton have been through the 'test' at the Scottish royal quarters. However, even though Margaret Thatcher attempted it, she failed.


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So, what is the Balmoral test? Well, it's not so much a test, but a code of conduct for when you visit the royal castle in Scotland. If you pass the test you are then said to be accepted by the royal family.

When guests visit the royal grounds, which has been the Scottish home of the royals since it was bought for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, they are expected to act a certain way.

This means joining in with outdoor activities, acting a certain way at dinner parties and apparently changing your outfit up to five times a day!

However, as Gillian Anderson shows in this series of the Crown, Margaret Thatcher failed the test miserably. Instead of socialising with other guests she instead chose to work, while she also forgot to bring any outdoor shoes.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana in Season 4 of The Crown

(Image credit: Des Willie/ Netflix)

However, Diana, who also went through the royal test, passed with flying colours - getting involved in everything she was asked to do. Royal experts claim this is one of the reasons that Charles was pressured into proposing to her.

However, Diana told royal biographer and journalist Andrew Morton a different story about her time at Balmoral, saying: “Instead of having a holiday, it's the most stressful time of the year. It's very close quarters.”

The Duchess of Cambridge is said to have also taken part in the test in 2009, while Meghan visited the Scottish castle in 2018, but it's not known whether she took part in the test.

Meanwhile, royal fans are convinced that Kate Middleton made a cameo in the latest series of the Crown - excited viewers posted pictures of the Duchesses look-a-like in the show. 

Sarah Finley
Sarah Finley

Sarah is a freelance journalist - writing about the royals and celebrities for Woman & Home, fitness and beauty for the Evening Standard and how the world of work has changed due to the pandemic for the BBC. 


She also covers a variety of other subjects and loves interviewing leaders and innovators in the beauty, travel and wellness worlds for numerous UK and overseas publications. 


As a journalist, she has written thousands of profile pieces - interviewing CEOs, real-life case studies and celebrities - interviewing everyone from Emma Bunton to the founder of Headspace.