fbpx

The Crown season 4: When Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark went missing

What happened when Margaret Thatcher’s son went missing in the Sahara Desert? (Picture: Getty)

In season 4 of The Crown on Netflix, viewers are introduced to prime minister Margaret Thatcher, a role played masterfully by Sex Education star Gillian Anderson.

Gillian, 52, loses herself completely in her performance, recreating moments such as the discussions the prime minister shared with her advisors about the Falklands War and the Iron Lady’s opposition to sanctions against South Africa.

However, it’s not just political issues that the Tory politician is depicted facing this season.

During the fourth episode, Thatcher is informed that her son, Mark Thatcher, has gone missing during a motor rally, news that made headlines around the world.

So what really happened when Thatcher’s son disappeared in the 1980s?

What happened when Margaret Thatcher’s son went missing?

Thatcher had two children with her husband Denis Thatcher: twins Mark and Carol, born on 15 August 1953.

Margaret Thatcher, with her husband Denis and her children Mark and Carol, 14 January 1982 (Picture: Central Press/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)

In The Crown, Thatcher admits to the Queen (Olivia Colman) that Mark is her ‘favourite’ child, prompting the monarch to discuss the notion of having a favourite child with the Duke of Edinburgh.

In 1982, when he was 28 years old, Mark took part in the Paris-Dakar Rally, an off-road motor rally starting in Paris, France and ending in Dakar, Senegal.

Mark set up his own car racing company five years previously called Mark Thatcher Racing, although the firm suffered financial difficulties.

The businessman set off on his journey during the Paris-Dakar Rally in a Peugeot 504, riding alongside his co-driver Anne-Charlotte Verney and their mechanic Jacky Garnier.

However, on 12 January, it was reported that Mark and his companions had gone missing in the Sahara Desert.

Mark later said he did no preparation for the rally (Picture: Pierre PERRIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

‘Margaret Thatcher was said to be ‘very upset and very distressed’,’ a BBC article stated at the time.

‘The prime minister, though under obvious strain, is carrying out her appointments as normal,’ it added.

Following a military search, on 14 January, Mark, Anne-Charlotte and Jacky’s vehicle was spotted by a search plane from the Algerian army, having veered 50km (31 miles) off course.

In a report published by the BBC the following day, it said that Mark had been found ‘safe and well’ and was on his way back home after going missing.

The article featured a photograph of Mark with his father, who had flown out to Algeria to help with the search.

In The Crown season 4, Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) tells the Queen (Olivia Colman) about her son’s disappearance (Picture: Des Willie/Netflix)

In the report, it said that Mark and his companions ‘had lost their way and the car they were driving broke down’.

It added that the trio ‘were running short of food but still had plenty of drinking water’ when they were discovered.

After hearing that her son had been found, the prime minister said that the experience made her place her ‘personal worries into perspective’.

‘It’s all all right now and life to me looks totally different personally from what it did two days ago,’ she said.

According to The Telegraph, Thatcher insisted on personally paying a sum of £2,000 towards the search, writing in a note: ‘I must pay. We can therefore say that no British cost has fallen on the British taxpayer.’

What has Mark Thatcher said about his disappearance?

Before making his debut in the Paris-Dakar Rally, Mark seemingly showed little concern for any potential dangers he could face during the journey.

‘I’ve now raced in Le Mans and other things – this rally is no problem,’ he said, according to a BBC article published at the time of his disappearance.

In 2004, Mark wrote an article for The Guardian about his experience.

Mark Thatcher and Margaret Thatcher

Mark Thatcher and Margaret Thatcher at the funeral of Denis Thatcher on 3 July 2003 (Picture: Alisdair Macdonald/REX)

‘The biggest story of 1982 was the Falklands War. The second biggest also involved my mother… and me,’ his opening line read.

In the essay, the businessman said that he did ‘absolutely no preparation’ for the event.

‘Nothing. I did half a day’s testing and the day after that we were driving out of the Place de la Concorde in Paris. I was thinking, OK, I wonder how this is going to go? I soon found out,’ he wrote.

Mark recollected thinking that the car had ‘hit something’ , when in actual fact the vehicle’s ‘rear axle just broke away’.

‘We stopped. The others stopped too, took a note of where we were and went on. But the silly bastards – instead of telling everyone we were 25 miles east when they finished the section, they told them we were 25 miles west,’ he stated.

Mark claimed that he was ‘never scared for my life’, despite going missing for days.

The Crown season 4 is available to watch on Netflix.

Got a story?

If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us celebtips@metro.co.uk, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.


MORE : The Crown season 4: Olivia Colman angers Army vet for ‘sloppy salute’


MORE : The Crown star Emma Corrin felt ‘huge amount of pressure’ to play Princess Diana at first