How to Play Ibble-Dibble, the Royals' Wild Drinking Game in 'The Crown'

The bizarre parlor game in 'The Crown' Season 4, Episode 2 is very real and surprisingly easy to learn.

Courtesy of Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

Approximately 16 minutes into the second episode of The Crown Season 4, the royal family plays a wild parlor game that leaves the newly elected prime minister Margaret Thatcher-and viewers-dizzied beyond repair. The difference between the no-nonsense Iron Lady and fans of The Crown, though, is that viewers got a taste of the nonsense and wanted more. Luckily, we don’t need to get in touch with the Queen to understand the rules: Ibble-Dibble is a very real drinking game and once you’ve deciphered the gibberish, it’s pretty easy to comprehend.

There are two important terms you should know before you play: “ibble-dibble” and “dibble-ibble.” Ibble-dibble is a silly way to say “player.” If you’re playing the game, you’re an ibble-dibble! A dibble-ibble, on the other hand, is a mark you stamp on your face with a blackened cork whenever you mess up the flow of the game. We’ll get to that in a second.

When ibble-dibbles are ready to play, they should grab their drinks and gather in a circle so that every person is visible. Someone will go around the circle assigning each person a number. If you’re number three, for example, you’ll now be referred to as “number three ibble-dibble.” It’s important that you take mental note of everyone’s number.

As soon as ibble-dibbles are numbered off, one will need to blacken the end of a cork by lighting it on fire, letting it burn a bit, and blowing it out. Now the game can begin.

Decide who goes first. Let’s say it’s number three. They’ll begin by identifying themself and stating the number of marks on their face, then they’ll call on another player and identify the number of marks on that player’s face. It’ll sound something like this: “Number three ibble-dibble with no dibble-ibbles calling number six ibble-dibble with no dibble-ibbles.” In this case, number three called on number six, which means it’s number six’s turn to go next. The game isn’t too hard at first because nobody has dibble-ibbles, which is easy to keep track of.

The challenging part comes when someone messes up or hesitates too long. If someone makes a mistake on their turn or is called out for pausing to think, they receive a dibble-ibble on an unmarked part of their face. They must then take a drink and try again. As ibble-dibbles start to rack up dibble-ibbles, there’s a lot more to keep tabs on-and alcohol-induced brain fog certainly doesn’t make it easier. The game ends once everyone’s sick of playing.

Courtesy of Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

There are still some unanswered questions about Ibble-Dibble, though, like why a game this dumb was featured on The Crown to begin with. It’s all part of the Balmoral Test-an unspoken royal family ritual, dumping a newcomer into the deep end, to see how well they fit into the social climate and adapt to long-held traditions. During the prime minister’s stay at Balmoral Castle, a 50,000-acre estate located in northern Scotland that’s been owned by the Windsors since 1848, she’s being quietly scrutinized by the royals as they decide whether or not she will be accepted into their circle. Ibble-Dibble is fun, no doubt, but there’s more than bragging rights at stake: The House of Windsor will be making judgments about Margaret Thatcher’s character the whole time they play.

By the time Thatcher is called on in Ibble-Dibble, it appears that they’ve been playing the game for a while. With no dibble-ibbles on her face, it’s strange that the group had avoided calling on her up to that point, but it’s even stranger that when Thatcher finally got her chance to prove that she can relax and have a little fun, she treats the game like the most difficult task of her career: “Number one… ibble.. dibble……. with no… dibble.. ibbles…. calling number… 10…………… ibble… dibble…. with………… six…. dibble… ibbles.” The whole thing is excruciating to watch as Gillian Anderson, with her disturbingly spot-on Thatcher voice and mannerisms, struggles through her turn while the rest of the room grimaces.

Whether or not the royal family ibble-dibbled with Margaret Thatcher in real life isn’t important. The chaotic scene from Episode 2 spotlights the stark differences between the Iron Lady’s cold personality and the royal family’s, a theme that will bubble up throughout the season, eventually coming to a head when Thatcher and Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth butt heads over Apartheid sanctions in Episode 8. Even when the prime minister knows her behavior is being scrutinized, she fails to impress simply because she doesn’t care. (In one of her audiences with the Queen, she recites “No Enemies,” by Scottish poet Charles Mackay, to demonstrate her comfort with creating adversaries through her intransigent policies that sunk the British economy.) It’s through a game of Ibble-Dibble that The Crown begins to portray a socially inept, and eventually cruel, prime minister who is unable and unwilling to connect with other people and, in turn, the nation.Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don’t. It’s really up to you.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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