The Crown season 4: When’s it released on Netflix? What’s going to happen?

Olivia Colman will return as Queen Elizabeth II as we head into the Margaret Thatcher years for the fourth instalment of Peter Morgan's royal epic

The Crown

After a whirlwind tour of the years from 1964 to 1977 in the third season of Netflix’s global royal hit, The Crown, attention has turned to what will happen in season 4 of Peter Morgan’s epic drama following the life story of Queen Elizabeth II.

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Although the main characters were all replaced in a major reset at the beginning of season three, we know that Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II) and Tobias Menzies (The Duke of Edinburgh) will both be reprising their roles for the fourth season of the show, along with the likes of Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret).

Another cast reset is expected for the final two seasons of The Crown (seasons 5 and 6) as the Royal Family move closer to modern times and the actors are required to look older, but for season 4 of the show we expect to see much of the story centre on the late 1970s and the 1980s, seeing the introduction of huge new characters including Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana.

Here’s everything we know so far about season 4 of The Crown.

When is The Crown season 4 released on Netflix?

Netflix has yet to confirm an exact air date for the fourth season – and although there was a two-year gap between seasons two and three, we’re unlikely to have to wait quite so long for season four. The Crown season 4 will be released in November or December 2020 just a year after the most recent outing of the show, RadioTimes.com currently predicts.

Filming for seasons three and four was scheduled to take place back-to-back, before another total cast changeover as Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies step aside in favour of older actors.

Shooting on the fourth season finished in mid-March 2020, with the final days of filming brought forward owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the shots in the can it gives Netflix the flexibility to move one of their biggest and most popular shows around the year should they so choose – but still it’s likely to come at the end of 2020.

Who will be in the cast for The Crown season 4?

All the main cast from season three will be back for season four – including Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.

However, they will be joined by a number of new cast members playing some very famous characters from history…

Is Margaret Thatcher in season 4?

Gillian Anderson plays Margaret Thatcher in The Crown

Gillian Anderson is set to star as Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, and it’s likely that her leadership and her relationship with the Queen will be central to season four.

Season three finishes in 1977, so we’ve almost hit the year Thatcher was elected: 1979. She then remained in office until 1990, so we should expect to see a lot of Gillian Anderson’s Thatcher throughout the new season of the show as it has always focussed heavily on the relationship between the monarch and her Prime Ministers.

Is Princess Diana in season 4? 

Emma Corrin has been cast to play Lady Diana Spencer (the future Princess of Wales) in The Crown.

“I have been glued to the show and to think I’m now joining this incredibly talented acting family is surreal,” Corrin said when the casting was announced. “Princess Diana was an icon and her effect on the world remains profound and inspiring. To explore her through Peter Morgan’s writing is the most exceptional opportunity and I will strive to do her justice!”

Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) married Diana in 1981 after a brief courtship. Their eldest son Prince William came along in 1982, with Prince Harry arriving in 1984 – events which will all fall within the time period covered by season four.

Peter Morgan is also likely to cover the difficulties within the royal marriage which led to their 1992 separation and subsequent divorce.

As Princess Diana became such an international icon during her time in the royal family, we’d predict that her character will be a very substantial part of the new season as one of the most famous marriages in the world plays out on screen.

Emma Corrin plays Diana in The Crown

What will happen in season 4 of The Crown?

The fourth season should take us from 1977 up to about 1990, though the exact timespan is yest to be confirmed by the creator of the show, Peter Morgan, or Netflix, who make the show.

The Times reports that episodes will feature the Queen and Margaret Thatcher’s disagreements over Apartheid in South Africa, the 1984-5 miners’ strike and the 1982 Falklands War. All major incidents during the period, so it’s likely at least some of these events will feature in the ten episodes.

This is just speculation, but The Crown season four could also cover the 1981 incident where six shots were fired at the Queen during the Trooping of the Colour. It could also include the Buckingham House intruder, Michael Fagan, who made it into the Queen’s bedroom after a serious lapse in security.

Olivia Colman plays Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown season 3

It’s likely we’ll meet US President Ronald Reagan in season four, and explore his relationship with the Queen, as we have seen most of the US Presidents at some point during the first three seasons of The Crown.

If you enjoyed the 1969 Royal Family documentary episode in season three, cross your fingers that It’s a Royal Knockout will get its own episode as we cringe our way through the much-ridiculed 1987 charity game show.

Meanwhile Josh O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles on the show, has said that his character will be portrayed in a harsher light in season four, with one episode set to focus on the beginnings of the love triangle between Charles, his future wife Camilla Shand and her boyfriend Andrew Parker-Bowles.

He told the PA news agency, “Well, it’s the Diana years so we know that period so well. And in terms of Charles himself, if series three was to make people feel empathy and sorry for him, I guess we’re going to pull the rug from under him in the next series.”

And we’ll be waiting to find out who plays an adult Prince Andrew as he goes off to the Falklands War… perhaps not an enviable role to play on-screen right now.

When will the cast of The Crown change again?

We’ll get a new cast for seasons five and six – which will take us all the way up to the present day. It is understood The Crown will run for six seasons in total, and it was always planned to have two resets of the cast during that period.

Imelda Staunton is already heavily rumoured to be taking over as Queen Elizabeth in season five.

However, a spokesperson for Netflix said: “We are currently filming season 4 of The Crown but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation.”

Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle be featured on The Crown?

The royal couple made major headlines in January when they announced they would be stepping down as senior royals to become financially independent.

However, these events won’t be covered in the fourth season of The Crown, as it will be set decades earlier.

In addition, it currently seems unlikely that the series will ever make it to present day royal life, as creator Peter Morgan told Entertainment Weekly he prefers to keep the focus on historical topics.

“I feel uncomfortable writing about events within a certain time period. I think there’s a certain amount of time within which, if you write about it, what you do instantly becomes journalistic. Because it’s too close to the moment.

“If you wait a certain amount of time, if you allow fifteen or twenty years, basically a generation, between you and [the events] then you can write about it somewhat freely as drama,” he said.

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You can watch seasons 1-3 of The Crown right now on Netflix