One of the most anticipated television events of 2020 is finally around the corner. To the delight of audiences everywhere, Netflix’s hit royal drama The Crown will be returning for its fourth season on Sunday 15 November.
Fans have seen actors come and go since the series began in 2016. Queen Elizabeth II has been portrayed by both Claire Foy and Olivia Colman; Princess Margaret was initially played by Vanessa Kirby and then Helena Bonham Carter. Doctor Who’s Matt Smith famously took on the role of Prince Philip before handing the reins over to Tobias Menzies.
Despite a repertory of returning stars, it’s likely that all eyes will be on the series’ newcomers: Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson and Lady Diana Spencer, played by Emma Corrin.
The new season is set between 1977 and 1990, covering Thatcher’s premiership and Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles.
There’s a lot to keep track of in the forthcoming season of The Crown – so exactly who is playing who this time around? Below is a breakdown of all the new actors and returning roles you can expect from season four.
Emma Corrin as Princess Diana
Corrin has an uphill battle ahead of her, portraying the nation’s beloved Princess Diana. The 24-year-old actor is a relative newcomer but The Crown will put Corrin firmly on the map after she morphs into the royal in the new season that depicts Diana’s wedding day to Prince Charles and their 1983 tour of Australia and New Zealand. Corrin – who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Princess Diana – most recently starred in 2020’s Misbehaviour opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Keira Knightley. Corrin’s replacement has already been named: Australian star Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager and Tenet) will take over from season five.
Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher
The X-Files actor will make her debut on the Netflix drama as conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose relationship with the monarch will be a focal point of season four. The series will see Thatcher’s election in 1979 and track through her tumultuous tenure. The Independent’s review of the season applauds Anderson for bringing humanity to one of history’s most vilified figures.
Stephen Boxer as Dennis Thatcher
Another new character added into the mix this year is Thatcher’s husband, Dennis, who will be portrayed by Stephen Boxer, who previously played Dr Joe Fenton in Doctors and David Eltster in Humans.
Freddie Fox and Rebecca Humphries as Mark and Carol Thatcher
Fox and Humphries will appear as Thatcher’s twin children Mark and Carol. While Fox starrred in the BBC’s Boy George biopic Worried About the Boy as well as played the titular role in the network’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Humphries is far less known. The actor has appeared in Big Bad World and Cockroaches. She also featured briefly on the Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner.
Tom Byrne as Prince Andrew
The third child and second son of the Queen and Prince Philip enters the series portrayed by Tom Byrne. Again, the role will likely prove to be a huge opportunity for Byrne, a recent graduate of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Viewers may recognise Byrne from an appearance in an episode of Black Mirror. In a recent interview with the Evening Standard, Byrne said of his role: “People are going to bring their perception of Prince Andrew… I didn’t need to bring my own judgment to it.” The prince has been engulfed in the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal, which culminated in a disastrous Newsnight interview in November last year.
Jessica Aquilina as Sarah Ferguson
Jessica Aquilina will make her on-screen debut as Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson who became Duchess of York when she married Prince Andrew in 1986.
Isobel Eadie as Lady Sarah Spencer (One of Diana’s older sisters)
Geoffrey Breton as Mark Philips (Princess Anne’s first husband)
Tom Burke as Derek “Dazzle” Jennings (Friend to Princess Margaret)
Tom Brooke as Michael Fagan (An intruder who famously broke into the Queen’s bedroom in 1982)
Nicholas Farrell as Michael Shea (Press secretary to the Queen from 1978 to 1987)
Richard Roxburgh as Bob Hawke (Australian Prime Minister from 1983 to 1992)
Harry Treadaway as Roddy Llewellyn (Landscape gardener and writer who began an eight-year long affair with Princess Margaret after they met in 1973)
Nancy Carroll as Anne Tennant (Part of the British aristocracy and close friend of Princess Margaret)
Georgie Glen as Ruth Lady Fermoy (Grandmother to Princess Diana)
Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II
The series will be Olivia Colman’s final outing as Queen Elizabeth II, a role she adopted from Foy in 2019. The Oscar-winning actor is best known for her roles in The Favourite, Peep Show and Broadchurch. Following Colman, Harry Potter’s Imelda Staunton will take over as sovereign for the show’s final two seasons.
Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip
After replacing Matt Smith in season three, this series will see Menzies return as Prince Philip. The 46-year-old is perhaps best known for playing both Frank and Jack Randall in Outlander. He also starred as Edmure Tully in Game of Thrones and Villiers in Casino Royale. Season five will see Menzies handing over the part to Tony Award-winner Jonathan Pryce.
Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles
Before Dominic West takes over next season, O’Connor will make a final appearance as the Queen’s eldest son Prince Charles – a role which earned him a BAFTA Rising Star nomination in 2018. Beyond the hit drama, O’Connor also starred as Johnny Saxby in 2017’s acclaimed film God’s Own Country.
Emerald Fennell as Camilla Parker Bowles
Whereas in season three Emerald Fennell portrayed Camilla Shand, this series will see the character go by her married name: Parker Bowles. Although her initial relationship with Prince Charles was short-lived, the couple rekindled their romance while Charles was married to Diana, causing huge controversy for the royal family. Fans of Call the Midwife will recognise Fennell as Nurse Patsy Mount. The actor is also accomplished behind the camera, serving as a showrunner on the second series of BBC’s Killing Eve.
Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret
Helena Bonham Carter returns as the Queen’s younger sister. It is likely that this season will see Bonham Carter’s Margaret go through her divorce to Antony Armstrong-Jones and suffer declining health. The actor has made a name for herself starring in period dramas, including Lady Jane, A Room with a View and The King’s Speech. Lesley Manville is set to take over from Bonham Carter for the show's final two seasons.
Erin Doherty as Princess Anne
Erin Doherty will reprise her role as the Queen’s youngest child and only daughter. The rising star previously appeared opposite her The Crown co-star O’Connor (who plays Prince Charles) as Fabienne in the 2018 TV adaptation of Les Misérables.
Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother
All or Nothing’s Marion Bailey will once again star as the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. The actor’s past credits include Mr Turner, Vera Drake and 2016’s war romance Allied, which starred Brad Pitt and Kiera Knightly.
Charles Dance as Lord Mountbatten
Game of Thrones’s Tywin Lannister will be returning as Lord Mountbatten, the Royal Navy officer and statesman; uncle to Prince Philip and distant relative to the Queen. History fans will know the statesman met a grisly demise in 1979.
Angus Imrie as Prince Edward
The 26-year-old – who recently portrayed “creepy Jake” in Fleabag – will reprise his role as the Queen’s youngest son. Although Angus Imrie was in the background of season three, it’s likely he’ll get more screen time this time around as the prince finishes school at Gordonstoun.
Charles Edwards as Martin Charteris
Charles Edwards (previously Michael Gregson in Downton Abbey) will return as the Queen’s private secretary, having first appeared in season three after taking over the part from Harry Hadden-Paton.
Andrew Buchan as Andrew Parker Bowles
The Broadchurch actor will portray Camilla Shand’s boyfriend and later husband, reprising the role he briefly played in season three.
Additional cast information via Radio Times