Season four of The Crown arrived on Sunday and immediately dominated Netflix‘s Top 10 most-watched chart, with fans hooked by the royal rollercoaster that was the 1980s – from Margaret Thatcher’s time in office to the courtship, marriage and eventual estrangement of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
If, like me, you’ve already finished the whole season, the arrival of the finale’s credits probably left you not only wondering how you’d managed to binge-watch 10 hours of television in the space of just a few days, but also experiencing a pang of dread as the realisation that Olivia Colman had just given her royal wave goodbye began to sink in.
The Crown cast and their meticulously observed performances have arguably been the most-talked about aspect of season four. Josh O’Connor’s portrayal of Prince Charles as a jealous, selfish and neglected heir has been making headlines since the weekend, while the nation is captivated with newcomer Emma Corrin, who perfectly channels the softly-spoken young Diana.
The Crown creator Peter Morgan recently stoked rumours that Olivia Colman may be making a cameo in the upcoming fifth season, saying that he’s “toying with a couple of ideas” of how she could return to the show in future seasons – but why stop there? With so much acting talent crammed into just 10 episodes, fans would love to see more of the ’80 royals in the next season – whether that be through flashbacks (à la Claire Foy’s season four cameo, giving the Queen’s commonwealth speech) or even dream sequences. Bring them all back I say!
Erin Doherty’s Princess Anne didn’t feature heavily throughout season four, but she always stood out whenever on screen, maintaining her reputation as the fiercely bold royal with a constant pout, nonchalant attitude and whip-smart comments, whilst hiding her marital problems and jealousy of Diana firmly under her slicked-back bouffant – at least until she explodes in front of her perplexed mother in episode four.
Saying goodbye to Doherty’s effortless Anne for good would be heartbreaking and it is feasible that she could return in a flashback, considering that season five will most likely explore the princess’s divorce from Mark Phillips in 1992 during the Queen’s “annus horribilis”. Viewers didn’t get to see the pair interact much in season four and only learnt about the couple’s instability through Anne’s throwaway comments, so a flashback featuring Doherty and Geoffrey Breton (Phillips) could provide helpful exposition when explaining the deterioration of their relationship.
Similarly, newcomer Emma Corrin shone throughout season four as the teenaged Diana with her head tilts, posh drawl and nervous smirk, taking viewers on an emotional journey as the Princess realised that she was destined to sit on the Royal mantlepiece, voiceless and alone – much like the wild deer at Balmoral.
While her on-screen clashes with Josh O’Connor’s Prince Charles stole the show this season, fans would undoubtedly want to see the talented young actors again – and with season five expected to revolve around Elizabeth Debicki’s 30-something Diana, there’s ample opportunity for both of them to also return.
The 1990s saw the leaking of telephone conversations between Diana and Gilbey’s Gin heir James Gilbey, as well as phone calls between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles – the latter incident dubbed ‘Camillagate’ by the press, before Diana’s tell-all biography hit the stands and an explosive interview with BBC’s Panorama was discussed throughout the world. Corrin could return to play an even younger Diana if season five were to compare Diana’s upbringing with that of Princes William and Harry, while viewers could get more of an insight into Charles and Camilla’s relationship with flashbacks to the early days of their affair.
We also shouldn’t forget Tom Byrne and Angus Imrie, who briefly played their respective roles of Prince Andrew and Prince Edward in season four. While Byrne appeared in just a few scenes, his portrayal of Andrew as an arrogant Duke of York, who’s well aware of his status as the Queen’s favourite, entertained viewers, and he recently told RadioTimes.com that he would “have loved to have stuck around and carried that journey forward”.
With the next season sure to touch on the Prince’s divorce from Sarah Ferguson, who made a fleeting appearance in season four, Byrne and Jessica Aquilina could return to tell the couple’s story before we dive into their separation.
We can’t wait for the new cast of Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce and Lesley Manville to put their own spin on these iconic real-life figures, but with multiple divorces, public battles in the press and more dramatic incidents on the horizon, there’s more than enough room for the mesmerising cast of season four to reprise their roles and dig deeper into the romantic lives of these royals.