A scene from historical drama “The Crown” trended online when the Countess of Snowdon, Princess Margaret, mocked Imelda Marcos, sparking interest among viewers and online lurkers. But “rumor” (more like accounts from historic figures and personalities) has it that the former first lady was also frowned upon by other diplomats and nobilities.

/ 18 November 2020

At the height of the Marcoses’ power, Imelda Marcos travelled all over the world to shop and receive royal treatment while the Philippines suffered in extreme poverty–it was so blatant that the word “Imeldific” was coined after her. 

On Sunday evening, Imelda’s name was all over social media after a scene from the latest season of the Netflix series The Crown showed Princess Margaret (played by Helena Bonham Carter) dragging the former first lady for her English accent. 

As the Countess of Snowdon entertains the royal family, she recounts an interaction with the former controversial First Lady, who “barges into the room” during a state dinner. Princess Margaret mocks Marcos who said she wanted to show off her “shell [shoe] collection.”

Marcos’ historical records have also shown that she was not the darling of the crowd, especially among the diplomats and nobilities, contrary to the convicted former first lady-turned politician’s many self-proclamations of her “charming” her way to global superpower.

United States Secretary and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, in his leaked anecdotes, pointed out that Imelda was seen as a “pest than a guest” by diplomatic circles in the ‘80s.

In a January 31, 1976 memo Kissinger quoted reports by American columnist Jack Anderson on ABC’s Good Morning America

In his January 26, 1976 report, Anderson said that there is a “foreign visitor” the State Department does not want to see. Anderson was referring to Imelda who was one of the “world’s most glamorous women” at the time.

“She happens to be one of the world’s most glamorous women. She’s the first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, a beautiful woman whose beguiling smiles charm the scowls off the world’s most cantankerous leaders,” says Anderson, adding that Marcos loved poking her nose into delicate matters and made difficult demands to the State Department’s protocol people making them “grit their teeth” every time she shows up.

“She has come to be regarded more as a pest than a guest,” Anderson explains. 

Anderson also cited a time when Imelda misbehaved in a party when she was invited as a keynote speaker at the World Population Conference on November 19, 1975. Imelda and her daughter and now Senator Imee Marcos had tea with former US first lady Betty Ford at the White House.

He said that by the time Imelda and Betty exchanged gifts, Imelda was “so disappointed” with hers that she stormed off and left it behind.

 “She was literally sputtering with rage, according to my sources, when she [flew] back to the Philippines,” Anderson said. 

Other historic accounts also showed Imelda’s misbehavior.  In a US Embassy cable on April 30, 1974, it was clear that former US Ambassador to the Philippines William Sullivan did not like Imelda’s visits to America.

“She [Imelda] has all sorts of interests which are far from reconciled,” Sullivan writes. “We are doing nothing at this end to stimulate hopes for meeting with [the] President, and not he will be out of [the] country for [a] good portion of her visit.”

In a separate cable on December 23, 1976, Sullivan said that Imelda has invited herself to the inauguration of then-elected US President Jimmy Carter. 

“It is conceivable that [the] invitation story may have surfaced [in Philippine media] in expectation [that the] US government would be reluctant [to] embarrass Mrs. Marcos if she insisted on attending [the] inauguration,” Sullivan said.

He also recalled an instance where Imelda attempted to barge in other events such as the inauguration of former US President Richard Nixon in 1968 and to the dedication of the Sydney Opera House where Imelda “made an effort to upstage the Queen [Elizabeth].”

Despite these accounts, the patronization of Imelda Marcos alarmingly still exists to this day. Her name still appears on columns and fashion magazines that preach her extravagant lifestyle. 

But her records and her reputation do not lie, Imelda’s history is not something the Filipino people should and can ever be proud of. 

The fourth season of acclaimed historical drama, The Crown is now streaming on Netflix.