While Princes Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Anne (Erin Doherty) appeared in the last series, season four is the first to feature all four of Queen Elizabeth II’s children, all of whom are either entering or trying to navigate adulthood in the 1980’s.
If you’ve been wondering which events in the heirs’ lives are covered in season four and the real history behind The Crown‘s royal family, here’s everything you need to know about the portrayal of Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward in the most recent series of the Netflix hit.
Season four of The Crown centres around a 30-something Prince Charles – played again by Josh O’Connor – and his complicated love life, juggling both his forbidden love Camilla Parker-Bowles (Emerald Fennell) and his unhappy bride Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin).
At the beginning of the series, we watch as Lord Mountbatten discourages Charles from pursuing the married Camilla in a letter, telling him to focus on his role as heir and to find a “sweet-charactered” girl without a past to marry. The rest of the episode looks at how Lord Mountbatten’s death – assassination by the IRA – affects Charles, who saw Mountbatten as a grandfather figure.
The season also introduces the teenaged Diana Spencer, while also covering that Prince Charles dated Diana’s sister Sarah Spencer. Diana goes on to win the royal approval during the so-called Balmoral Test, before the series delves into Charles and Diana’s marriage – their short engagement, Diana and Charles in Australia on their tour, the birth of Prince William and the decay of their relationship.
The Crown continues with the story of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, who begin an affair much to the frustration of Diana, before Prince Charles is caught in an avalanche and his near-death experience makes him determined to leave Diana and be with Camilla for good – although the Queen has other plans.
Erin Doherty reprises her role in The Crown’s fourth series, which covers Princess Anne’s marriage to Olympic gold-winning horseman Mark Phillips (played by Geoffrey Breton) and the gradual decline of their relationship. Throughout the series, we see the pair argue and bicker in the few scenes they have with one another, while Anne opens up to the Queen about her marital troubles in episode four.
The series also looks at Anne’s showjumping career, which she almost retires from after spending “much of the past year on [her] backside” and realising that she’d have to train alongside her husband Mark. After a pep talk from Prince Philip, who admits that Anne is his favourite child later on in the series, Anne continues horse-riding – however, her marriage to Phillips is still in jeopardy.
Season four also briefly touches on Anne’s relationship with the press, who she infamously told to “naff off” in the early 1970’s, her alleged affair with her then-police bodyguard Sergeant Peter Cross, who she tells the Queen is “the only thing that makes [her] happy”, and her resentment towards Princess Diana.
Series four introduces Tom Byrne as Prince Andrew, who’s in his early twenties in the 1980’s and serving in the Royal Navy.
We meet Prince Andrew in episode four, when he takes a helicopter to see the Queen for a mother-son lunch. The series touches on his service in the Falklands War, his title as the Duke of York and his relationship with actress Koo Stark in 1981, before his marriage to Sarah Ferguson (Jessica Aquilina) in 1986, which is upstaged in one episode by the leaked opinion of the Queen on Margaret Thatcher appearing in The Times.
Prince Edward doesn’t feature too heavily in the series, however he is portrayed by Angus Imrie in two episodes.
The Prince, who was in his late-teens in the 1980’s, opens up about his time at Gordonstoun with his mother, admitting that he’s frequently bullied by everybody at school, before celebrating his 21st birthday – his coming of age as a counsellor of state – alongside the Royal Family in a later episode.