The Crown Season 4 News, Release Date, Cast, Spoilers

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Warning: Contains minor spoilers for season 4 of The Crown.

Now that the world has watched a full season of Olivia Colman and co. on Netflix’s The Crown, it’s time to speculate about what’s next. As we set our sights on season 4, a new host of characters will be joining the cast. Enter Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher, two women who will rock the monarchy in their own ways.

“You really see her turn from a girl into a woman,” Emma Corrin, who joins the cast as Diana, told Vanity Fair in September. She’s not the only new character experiencing a moment of transition. Gillian Anderson’s Prime Minister Thatcher will have her entire tenure, from 1979 to 1990, tracked, including her contentious relationship with Queen Elizabeth.

A crop of new photos from the season have also emerged, offering glimpses of Princess Anne, Princess Margaret, and the moment Camilla met Diana:

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Read on for the latest about The Crown season 4.

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When will it air?

Season 4 of The Crown will premiere on Netflix on Sunday, November 15. The first teaser for the season introduces Anderson’s formidable Thatcher and Corrin’s Diana.

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The Crown‘s showrunner and creator Peter Morgan told Vanity Fair that while most of production was wrapped prior to the coronavirus pandemic, a few episodes had to be reconfigured. “The truth is, yes, we are missing at least two weeks of filming,” he told the outlet, adding, “I just hope you can’t tell where.”

What’s the time period?

Back in 2017, the UK Times reported that the fourth season would center around Thatcher’s years as prime minister, just as the third season focused on Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Historically, Thatcher held the title from 1979 to 1990. (Vanity Fair reports the new season will begin in 1977.) Events within that period include the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana as well as the births of their two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

An official description of the season, per Netflix, reads:

As the 1970s are drawing to a close, Queen Elizabeth and her family find themselves preoccupied with safeguarding the line of succession by securing an appropriate bride for Prince Charles, who is still unmarried at 30. As the nation begins to feel the impact of divisive policies introduced by Britain’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tensions arise between her and the Queen which only grow worse as Thatcher leads the country into the Falklands War, generating conflict within the Commonwealth. While Charles’ romance with a young Lady Diana Spencer provides a much-needed fairytale to unite the British people, behind closed doors, the Royal family is becoming increasingly divided.

In late February, paparazzi photos depicted Corrin as Diana with an actor playing a toddler-aged Prince William. Per Good Housekeeping, the scene depicts the 1984 Buckingham Palace Easter Egg hunt. O’Connor was also spotted filming for the series on the steps of The British Museum. Harper’s BAZAAR pointed out that O’Connor’s suit is reminiscent of Prince Charles’ ensemble in his engagement photos with Diana.

Tim GrahamGetty Images

Sources told Deadline that an infamous 1982 break-in at Buckingham Palace will be depicted next season. Michael Fagan reportedly entered a sleeping Queen Elizabeth’s room with shards of glass from an ashtray. Although the monarch was not injured, it was considered an alarming security breach, as Fagan scaled the castle’s perimeter wall.

One major moment that will be missing from season 4, according to Deadline, is the 1987 TV special It’s a Royal Knockout. The “somewhat controversial” special showed a staged charity tournament on the lawn of Alton Towers. Royal family members including Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and Sarah Ferguson competed against celebrities in a competition that the outlet compares to Ninja Warrior. According to sources, producers “explored the event but decided against it” after depicting the ill-fated 1969 royal family documentary in season 3.

Who’s in the new cast?

The show’s main characters are recast every two seasons to update for aging. Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II), Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret), Tobias Menzies (Prince Philip), Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), Ben Daniels (Antony Armstrong-Jones), and Emerald Fennell (Camilla Parker Bowles) will all reprise their roles, along with most of the third season’s cast.

Perhaps the most high-profile addition to the royal roster? Golden Globe winner Gillian Anderson as prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Deadline reported her casting in January 2019, though Anderson herself didn’t confirm the news until September. “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,” she said in a statement. “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.”

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Anderson discussed playing Thatcher in an interview with Deadline, telling the outlet that the show set her up to feel as comfortable as possible in the role. Her first day “was a scene they were shooting on a stage at the studio, and so they mapped it out that way in the knowledge that, if you suck, you can always come back and shoot it again if you need to,” she said. “They had already built into the schedule that I would likely be able to fail, and that it wouldn’t be the end of the day. You really feel held. I knew I was going to be all right.”

What is Margaret Thatcher’s role in the new season?

Thatcher and the queen famously had a “punctiliously correct” relationship with “little love lost on either side,” Deadline noted. Morgan told Vanity Fair that the key to depicting their contentious dynamic was in depicting similarities between the two high-powered women. “When I found out that they were born only six months apart, that was a really big breakthrough for me,” he said, adding, “They’re like twins who are not the same.”

Among their shared traits, Morgan said, “They’re both very resilient, very committed, work incredibly hard, have an extraordinary sense of duty. They’re both really committed to the country. They both have a strong Christian faith. They’re both girls of the war generation who switch the lights off when they leave a room. But then they had such different ideas about running the country.”

When will we meet Princess Diana?

In April 2019, Netflix announced newcomer Emma Corrin would play Princess Diana and, contrary to earlier reports, would not appear in season 3. “Beyond excited and honoured to be joining The Crown for its fourth season,” Corrin said in a statement released by Netflix. “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!”

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Corrin initially earned the role while reading lines for actors during the third season, impressing producers in the process. “You meet her and she’s…16 years old,” Corrin told Vanity Fair of viewers’ first look at Diana, which occurs when Charles picks up her older sister Sarah for a date. “From episode 1 to 3, we see her dynamic before she goes into the palace—and how normal she was, living in her flat with friends…then she’s really transported overnight.”

In preparation to play the defiant royal, Corrin told British Vogue she met with Lady Di’s private secretary Patrick Jephson and watched the documentary Diana: In Her Own Words “about a hundred times.” She added, “I feel I’ve got to know Diana like you would a friend. I know that sounds really weird, but I get a great sense of companionship from her. I suppose, over time, you kind of start to patch together a sense of empathy and a sense of understanding. I love figuring people out.”

Corrin told VF that although Diana had “a very fucked relationship” with her parents, Jephson emphasized the late royal’s positivity. “Something he said was how happy she was,” Corrin recalled. “Obviously there was a tragic strain throughout her life, which you feel very much in the series. She had so much heartbreak, loss, and loneliness, but Patrick said that her natural inclination was towards happiness.”

This not-so rosy period of Diana’s life also includes her struggles with bulimia, Morgan told Vanity Fair. “It just struck me that to not represent it would be to deny the former Princess of Wales some of the true complexity of her character,” he said of including her private battle onscreen. “Her own suffering made her have compassion for other people. And it was the compassion she showed for other people that was what made everyone love her. Everyone has vulnerabilities and frailties. And she wore hers on her sleeve—which, of course, is the opposite of royalty. You’re representing an idea and an ideal, and you don’t want there to be too much humanity in the way.”

In January, photos emerged of Corrin filming the fourth season. She’s photographed at the entrance of London’s Savoy Hotel, wearing the same retro floral dress Diana did when she visited in May 1989. Sporting Diana’s signature bob, Corrin’s resemblance to the late royal is uncanny. Diana’s visit to the Savoy came three years before her official split with Prince Charles.

Diana, Princess of Wales,Savoy Hotel, London

John Shelley Collection/AvalonGetty Images

Will we see Charles and Diana’s blockbuster wedding?

One of the royal family’s most memborable events of the 20th century was the 1981 wedding between Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Seventeen million reportedly tuned in to watch the couple’s nuptials, an event that will play out on the fourth season. Corrin opened up to British Vogue about what it was like to wear a replica of Lady Di’s famous dress.

“The Emanuels, who designed the original, gave us the patterns, and then it was made for me,” Corrin said of the custom gown. “We were filming the scene when you first see her in the wedding dress—I think it was Lancaster House in London—and I had a team of about 10 people helping me put it on, because it’s massive. I walked out and everyone went completely silent. More than anything else I wear in the series, it’s so…It’s her.”

princess diana the crown

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Corrin also says her research with Lady Di’s private secretary revealed an enduring love for Prince Charles, despite eventual marital turmoil. She remembered asking Jephson if Diana “truly loved Charles.” He replied, “Undoubtedly. To the very, very end.” Corrin told Vanity Fair, “Honestly, that breaks my heart completely. Patrick said, ‘Even when they were fighting and getting the divorce, her only concern was that Charles was all right.’”

Morgan reiterated that stance, telling the outlet, “I don’t think she ever stopped loving Charles. I think she had grown to realize that marriage was impossible.… I think she may have loved other people towards the end of it, but I think her number one choice would have been to make that marriage work.”

diana  charles at polo

Diana and Charles in 1985.

Tim GrahamGetty Images

What will Prince Charles and Princess Anne be up to?

Speaking of Prince Charles, O’Connor told Netflix Queue that the heir becomes “more serious, subdued, and unnerving” in the second season of the show, which chronicles his turbulent 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 added about the royal’s romance troubles, “He still has a lot of heart. He’s still the young boy desperate for approval.”

O’Connor said, “We see edges of his darkness” in season 4, particularly when Charles attempts to voice his unhappiness to the queen. “Every time Charles talks and tries to engage with his mother, he’s told to get on with it,” O’Connor told VF.

One publicly problematic exchange between Charles and Diana depicted in the new season is the pair’s first TV interview. The newly-engaged couple is asked the seemingly softball question of whether they’re in love. Diana replies, “Of course,” to which Charles adds, “Whatever ‘in love’ means.” O’Connor told Vanity Fair of the awkward moment: “It’s horrible…what was he thinking?”

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He’s not the only royal with marital problems. Erin Doherty, who reprises her role as Princess Anne in the second season, teased her character’s first marriage to Olympic gold-medalist Mark Phillips (Geoffrey Breton), referring to Anne’s marriage as “a pretty rocky experience.” Doherty said Anne will also commiserate with her brother Charles about his own ill-fated relationship. “You’re watching these people grow,” she told Netflix Queue. “You see them experience a similar coming-of-age, but take different routes.”

What is Princess Margaret’s journey this season?

According to VF, Princess Margaret will serve as more of a “supporting character” this season. Bonham Carter said the character’s dynamic with her sister Elizabeth will be front and center. “They enjoy each other’s company, and she’s very much more of a confidant with her sister,” she told the outlet. “She has one big episode [in the new season]…she has another public appearance, unraveling really. And she also has a lot of health problems.”

Beauty, Smoking, Lip, Tobacco products, Photography, Black hair,

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A surgery Princess Margaret undergoes in 1985 will be another major moment fans see. “She smoked 60 cigarettes a day with the knowledge that her father died of lung cancer at 54,” Helena Bonham Carter told Town & Country. “She had a lung removed, and she carried on smoking. She was a total addict. There was too much of her life that she was allowed to get lost inside her head, and I think that’s the unfortunate thing.”

What about Claire Foy?

Even though Colman replaced Foy as Queen Elizabeth for seasons 3 and 4, Foy was spotted filming a cameo for the upcoming season on November 20, 2019.

Snapshot, Eye, Photography, Ceremony, Plant, Black hair, Happy,

Splash News

The photo shows Foy recreating the then-princess’s 21st birthday speech, given in Cape Town on April 21, 1947. Elizabeth famously said, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” It looks like Colman’s queen will be reflecting on her youth in season 4.

Will there be a fifth season?

Yes! And a sixth season has been promised once more. On July 9, The Crown creator and showrunner Morgan confirmed that season 6 is coming after all. Back in January, Morgan said that while he originally “imagined The Crown running for six seasons” working on season 5 made it apparent ” that this is the perfect time and place to stop.”

But the writing process has changed his mind once more. “As we started to discuss the storylines for Series 5, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons,” Morgan said in a statement via Deadline. “To be clear, Series 6 will not bring us any closer to present-day—it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.” A trio of Oscar nominees will lead the last two seasons. Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth, Lesley Manville will play Princess Margaret, and Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Philip in the fifth and sixth installments. It was also confirmed that Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager, The Great Gatsby) will play Princess Diana.

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