“Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made—a prince and princess on their wedding day… Our faith sees the wedding day not as a place of arrival, but a place where the adventure really begins.” Thus begins the teaser for the much-awaited season four of The Crown, with these words playing in the background. The wedding talked about is the marriage between Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles, and the new season is supposed to cover the years between 1970-1990. Revolving around the life of Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown has, since its inception, put together a cast of brilliant actresses playing the roles of women in the British monarchy. And as we get ready to welcome the characters of Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher into the series, let’s take a look at all the female protagonists that we should also be looking forward to in season four.
Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II
Replacing Clair Floy as Elizabeth II in season three, Olivia Colman has since then won many hearts with her portrayal of the Queen. A seasoned actor, Colman brought her signature uniqueness to the show. Colman had earlier even won an Oscar for playing the role of another British monarch—Anne, Queen of Great Britain in The Favourite.
In the show she plays the older, frumpier Queen and with brown eyes that look like they’ve seen a thing or two over the past decade. And that makes her resemble her majesty even more, for what with the death of Prime minister Winston Churchill and a coup attempt by Lord Mountbatten in season three, we know that Queen Elizabeth II’s reign went through some grave turbulence during the late 1960s and early 1970s. And Colman brings in her years of experience to master the same act: here is a confident, settled monarch who has served in a world war, given birth to four children and seen several of Britain's prime ministers come and go. Season four will see her not just as the head of the British monarchy, but also as a mother-in-law to Princess Diana and shed some light on the Queen’s complicated relationship with her.
Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
Helena Bonham Carter is an actor who has won an Oscar for her playing the role of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in The King’s Speech. In season three of The Crown, she replaces actor Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. Princess Margaret was the younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and the only sibling of Queen Elizabeth II.
Bonham Carter really pops the cork on the tragic and flamboyant Princess Margaret. As Elizabeth’s antithesis(ter), Princess Margaret was always known for craving the spotlight. The question of being overshadowed by an elder sister, despite being King George VI’s favourite child, was always the character’s definition and undoing simultaneously. But what Carter brings to the table is the portrayal of Margaret’s inner misery and outer excesses in a different light. Season three revealed the troubles in Princess Margaret’s marriage. The new season is all set to focus on her subsequent divorce with her husband, and the intense speculation it stirred amongst media and royal-watchers for it was the first divorce in the royal family since Henry VIII dissolved his marriage over 400 years earlier in 1540.
Erin Doherty as Anne, Princess Royal
Since season three, Erin Doherty has taken over the role of playing Princess Anne, the second child and only daughter Queen Elizabeth II. Doherty is quite a newcomer on television, although some may remember her for her role in the 2018 BBC miniseries Les Misérables. On the other hand, the actor is a prolific theatre artist, having appeared in a number of productions at some of London's leading theatres.
The character she plays has always been a bit of an enigma, even to avid followers of the Royal family. Known for her high-profile charity work, Princess Anne was the first British royal Olympian, having competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Season three introduced us to the adult Princess Anne, who is scandalously outspoken, loves casual sex and doesn’t bat an eye to throw shade at her family. We also see her being involved in a quadrangle love equation alongside Andrew Parker Bowles, Prince Charles, and Camilla Shand. Season four, in all probability, shall focus Princess Anne’s first marriage to Mark Phillips and her eventual divorce.
Emma Corrin as Princess Diana
It reportedly took more than a year for The Crown’s producers to settle on the woman who would – who could – play the role of Princess Diana, and finally Emma Corrin was offered the role. Corrin, a rather unknown actress, has previously appeared in a supporting role in the American crime series Pennyworth. But as the teaser to the fourth season of The Crown opens to Corrin in Diana’s iconic wedding gown, it gives one a spitting image of the former Princess of Wales, erasing any doubt that fans may have had of Corrin being the right fit.
Princess Diana has been one of the most well-known members of the royal family. A dedicated humanitarian, a fashion icon and doting mother, she left a long-lasting impact on the world.
From refusing to say that she would ‘obey’ Prince Charles during their wedding vows to talking openly about mental illness and eating disorders, Princess Diana’s rebellious nature against every outdated royal custom made her immensely relatable and eventually earned her the moniker of ‘people’s princess’. The last season of The Crown has been leading up to Diana and Charles's tempestuous relationship and the royal wedding. Season four is all set to pick up as the monarchy moves to safeguard the royal line of succession, which hinges on Charles’ marriage. It remains to be seen how much justice Corrin does to the character based on one of our favourite royal members.
Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher
Gillian Anderson is a name and face that the Netflix audience has already fallen in love with, what with her role in Sex Education as Dr Jean F. Milburn. So when it was announced that she would be playing Margaret Thatcher in the new season of The Crown, it created quite a stir. The promotion pictures as well as the teaser show how well Anderson fits into the role of playing Europe’s first woman prime minister.
Margaret Thatcher, also known as ‘The Iron Lady’, was the only British prime minister in the 20th century to win three consecutive terms, thus becoming one of Britain’s longest continuously serving prime minister as well. She accelerated the evolution of the British economy towards liberalism and became, by personality as much as achievement, one of the most renowned British political leaders. Season four will be throwing more light on the changing political landscape of Britain and is also rumoured to depict the relationship between the Queen and Thatcher, one that in real-life has been convoluted by many conspiracy theories over time.
Emerald Fennell as Camilla Shand
Emerald Fennell will be returning in the role of Camilla Shand. Fennell is well known for her performances in film and television which include Call the Midwife, Anna Karenina, Albert Nobbs, and Vita and Virginia.
The character she plays in The Crown is also quite interesting for, after all, it is Prince Charles’s long-lasting love affair with Camilla Shand, which preceded, overlapped with, and outlasted the royal’s marriage to Princess Diana. Season three already had us introduced to the relationship’s complex origins, for when Camilla meets Prince Charles, she was already dating her future husband Andrew Parker Bowles for five years, who in turn had previously dated Princess Anne (Prince Charles will be Camillia’s second husband in future). Season four will focus on the entry of Princess Diana into this messy equation, and it sure will be exciting to see how the makers develop the character of this future royal, who in time becomes one of the reasons behind the divorce between Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
With such intriguing female characters, modelled on equally fascinating real-life women of the monarchy, there is no doubt the season four will deliver quite some memorable acts. As for us, we cannot wait for Netflix to drop the latest season on 15th November.
Views expressed are the author’s own.