Filming schedules have been thrown into turmoil since the onset of the coronavirus crisis but fans of The Crown can breathe a sigh of relief, the Netflix series almost having ended its fourth series shoot before lockdown and the chance remaining its original schedule could be kept.
The fourth season will see the return – and final outing – of core cast members Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Josh O’Connor and Helena Bonham Carter. We’ll also see Erin Doherty reprise her role as Princess Anne – following her real-life counterpart’s recent comments about her on-screen hairstyle.
We’ll also be introduced to some other, major characters: Gillian Anderson and Emma Corrin will play two of the country’s most significant figures of recent times, Margaret Thatcher and Princes Diana respectively, with the season’s action set to focus on the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Meanwhile, looking further ahead to season five, we’ve already got some info about the cast, with Imelda Staunton set to take over as Queen Elizabeth II, Lesley Manville to play the next Princess Margaret and Jonathan Pryce playing Prince Philip.
In the meantime there are several questions to be answered as to when The Crown season four will arrive on Netflix and what events the series will cover.
Read on for everything we know so far about season four 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.
RadioTimes.com predicts that The Crown season four will be released in November or December 2020, approximately one year after the most recent outing of the show.
In an interview with Deadline, Tobias Menzies confirmed he had completed his scenes for the fourth season before lockdown, adding, “The show was about two or three weeks shy of finishing, though I have a feeling that the vast majority had been shot.”
Addressing whether or not there will be a delay to the next season’s release, he said, “It’s quite possible that they will manage with what they have got and not have to go back into the shoot.”
Due to the measures which were brought in amid the coronavirus outbreak, Menzies said he, Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret, were deprived for a wrap party and a proper farewell.
“We never had a big send-off and I don’t think we will now,” he told the publication. “This whole cast — me, Olivia and Helena — this is us finishing. We were planning a fairly drunken farewell.”
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.
The real-life Princess Anne revealed in ITV documentary titled Anne: The Princess Royal At 70 that she found the early episodes of the show “quite interesting” – but that she was flummoxed by comments made by her on-screen counterpart, Doherty, about her hairstyle.
Erin Doherty plays Princess Anne in The Crown Netflix
In a previous interview with Town and Country, Doherty said, “Makeup [for The Crown] literally took 10 minutes, but hair, sometimes it would take two hours. It’s its own beast.”
However, Princess Anne joked about the interview, stating, “Actually I read an article the other day about The Crown, the actress was talking about how long it took them to do their hair like I did.
“And I’m thinking, ‘How could you possibly take that long?’ I mean it takes me 10 or 15 minutes.”
The existing cast members will be joined by a number of new cast members playing some very famous characters from history…
Is Margaret Thatcher in season 4 of 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.
And Anderson has confessed to how nervous she was before filming her scenes as Thatcher, claiming, “as we got closer to filming, I almost died. My heart has never beat so fast in all of my life.”
Is Princess Diana in season 4 of The Crown?
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.
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.
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.
Who will star in The Crown season 5?
Imelda Staunton (Getty)
Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth II herself.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to confirm Imelda Staunton as Her Majesty The Queen,” The Crown’s creator Peter Morgan told Deadline. “Imelda is an astonishing talent and will be a fantastic successor to Claire Foy and Olivia Colman.”
And one other acclaimed thespian who will definitely be joining the cast is Lesley Manville – who will take on the role of Princess Margaret as previously played by Helena Bonham Carter and Vanessa Kirby.
Manville was reportedly the producers’ first choice for the role, and on landing the part she said, “I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret, the baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses and I really don’t want to let the side down.”
She added, “Furthermore, to play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy.”
Meanwhile, Oscar nominee Jonathan Pryce will follow Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies in playing the older Prince Philip. “I am delighted to be working with Netflix again,” he said. “The positive experience I had making The Two Popes has given me the confidence to tackle the daunting propsect of portraying Prince Philip. To be doing so with Peter Morgan and in the company of Imelda and Lesley will be a joy.”
When will The Crown season 5 begin filming?
Imelda Staunton told Entertainment Weekly that her research for the role is “ongoing” – but she anticipates filming on season five being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that so many TV productions have been on pause.
“I think everything in the world is going to get pushed on, isn’t it?” she said. “So who knows? I’ve been chipping away at it quietly.”
Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appear on The Crown?
The royal couple made major headlines in January 2020 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.
You can watch seasons 1-3 of The Crown right now on Netflix. If you’re looking for something else to watch while you wait we have the best series on Netflix guide or if it’s a film you want the best movies on Netflix list.