'The Crown' Season Four Will Focus On the Drama of the Princess Diana and Prince Charles Years

Adrienne Westenfeld
·7 mins read
Photo credit: Elaine Chung
Photo credit: Elaine Chung

From Esquire

In the season three finale of The Crown, Netflix’s beloved and acclaimed series about the British monarchy, we left Queen Elizabeth riding alone through the streets of London in a gilded carriage, stone-faced even as the roar of a jubilant crowd poured through the carriage’s four walls. With season four on the horizon, the show promises to do more of what it does best—illuminate the private struggles of the royals from within their public facade. But with casting news always trickling out about the show’s ever-evolving carousel of characters, what can we expect from the hotly-anticipated fourth season? Here’s everything we know about the upcoming season thus far.

What Will The Crown Season 4 Be About?

Season Three’s action wrapped up in June 1977—just months before Lady Diana Spencer met Prince Charles in November 1977. The people’s princess will be a major focal point of the fourth season, with she and Charles entering into a high-profile relationship soon after the manipulations of his relatives soured his relationship with Camilla Shand. Lady Di will be played by Emma Corrin, an English actress casted fresh out of drama school, whose sole credit prior to The Crown was the PBS murder mystery series Grantchester. Early photos from the set showed Corrin and Josh O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles, recreating a visit from the couple’s 1983 royal tour of Australia. In Netflix's first teaser trailer, Diana is depicted as isolated within the overwhelming public spectacle of the monarchy. The parting shot teases Diana in her iconic wedding gown, with the 25-foot train billowing out evocatively behind her.

In a statement on her Instagram, Corrin wrote, “Beyond excited and honoured to be joining The Crown for its fourth season. I have been glued to the show since the first episode and to think I’m now joining this incredibly talented acting family is just surreal. Princess Diana was an icon, and her effect on the world remains profound and inspiring. To be given the chance to explore her through Peter Morgan’s writing is the most exceptional opportunity, and I will strive to do her justice!”

Peter Morgan, the show’s creator, said of Corrin, “Emma is a brilliant talent who immediately captivated us when she came in for the part of Diana Spencer. As well as having the innocence and beauty of a young Diana, she also has, in abundance, the range and complexity to portray an extraordinary woman who went from anonymous teenager to becoming the most iconic woman of her generation.”

O’Connor, who turned in a standout performance in season three, hinted at a larger role for Prince Charles, saying that season four is "very much the Diana and Charles years, and particularly focusing on what happened there and the ramifications of that going forward." He went on to say that Charles will become "more serious, subdued, and unnerving," owing to his troubled marriage. “I thought if in the first season [that I play Charles], I can win the hearts of people, and in the second, I can sort of strip that back, then that’s the aim," O'Connor said. “He still has a lot of heart. He’s still the young boy desperate for approval.”

However, Prince Charles isn't the only royal with marital problems. In an interview with Elle, Erin Doherty (who plays Princess Anne) teased her character's marriage to Olympic gold-medalist Mark Phillips, describing the marriage as "a pretty rocky experience." Fans of Charles and Anne's sibling camaraderie will be delighted to see them commiserate about their marriage woes, as Doherty teases that the experience will bond the young royals. “You’re watching these people grow,” Doherty said. “You see them experience a similar coming-of-age, but take different routes.”

Meanwhile, Gillian Anderson will join the cast as Margaret Thatcher, the United Kingdom’s first female prime minister. Early photos from the set show Anderson in trademark Thatcher attire, with impeccably coiffed hair and a skirt suit featuring shoulder pads. In the teaser trailer, Thatcher suits up at the mirror, sits solemnly in Parliament, and emerges from 10 Downing Street to a crowd of reporters. In a statement via The Crown’s Twitter account, Anderson said, "I am so excited to be joining the cast and crew of The Crown and to have the opportunity to portray such a complicated and controversial woman. Thatcher was undoubtedly formidable but I am relishing exploring beneath the surface and, dare I say, falling in love with the icon who, whether loved or despised, defined an era."

Season Four will explore Thatcher and the queen's "punctiliously correct" relationship, according to Morgan, concluding with Thatcher's ousting from public office in 1990. In the companion podcast to The Crown, Morgan described their relationship as, “an eagle with two heads, facing in opposite directions." He went on to say, “They’ve got an awful lot in common, not least their gender. Sometimes the things you think will bring two people together, actually drives them apart."

Season Four will also spotlight an infamous 1982 break-in at Buckingham Palace, when Michael Fagan managed to sneak into the queen's bedroom, where she was sleeping. Security personnel apprehended Fagan before the queen could be harmed, but the incident is widely considered a historic security breach.

Who’s In the Cast?

Corrin and Anderson are newcomers to the cast, along with Fleabag’s Angus Imrie, who will join as a young Prince Edward. Meanwhile, season three’s core cast will return, with Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, O’Connor as Prince Charles, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, Ben Daniels as Antony Armstrong-Jones, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, Emerald Fennell as Camilla Shand, Marion Bailey as The Queen Mother, and Charles Dance as Louis Mountbatten.

When is The Crown Season 4 Release Date On Netflix?

Bucking expectations of fans who feared that the coronavirus pandemic would delay The Crown's fourth season, Netflix has announced that all episodes will land on November 15th.

Fans were not wrong to despair: The Crown stopped filming two weeks ahead of schedule, managing to complete principal photography despite cutting the shooting process short. Though ending filming early involved sacrifices, Morgan told IndieWire that it was better to make the best of a difficult situation than to delay Season Four.

"For the final block, one director [Jessica Hobbs] was filming three separate episodes," Morgan said. "A couple of scenes were missing from each one. Having looked at them, we [could] just about get away with it. She will forever rue not being able to shoot them. The price of waiting would have meant to not get the show out on the same schedule. And nobody to whom I've shown the episodes can tell what's missing. I'm really relieved."

Savor the season while you can, as The Crown is taking a filming break until next year, meaning that we won't see new episodes until 2022, when Imelda Staunton joins the cast as an older Queen Elizabeth.

Watch this space for updates as we continue to learn more.

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