Series four of The Crown is the one with the most controversy during a very interesting time in both royal and British history. It features Margaret Thatcher’s England, Michael Fagan notoriously breaking into Buckingham Palace, visiting Balmoral Palace, The Queen’s holiday home in Scotland and of course, shows how the lives of Prince Charles and Lady Diana intertwine along with Diana’s journey to becoming the Princess of Wales.
The series had everything that I already loved about The Crown: from the little set details that helped to recreate bigger moments in history to the embellished storylines that piqued my curiosity. Peter Morgan’s expertise and passion for British history comes to the fore in this series.
The key to this series being a success was two-fold: One being the pace of the writing and the amount it captures in such a short space of time. This particular decade was filled with tremendous moments to choose from to capture. You get the bits of history you know and are well-documented but as with previous seasons, you also find pockets of history that may have gone unnoticed to those who have little or no knowledge of both British History or the British Monarchy.
Second is the new cast and the brilliant performances they added to the show. Emma Corrin portrayed Diana beautifully, capturing all the aspects of her personality from the vulnerability and fragility which stemmed from her youth to her passion and inherent determination to help those less fortunate than her. Series four sees Diana’s trajectory from a teenager into a woman in just 10 episodes and encompasses everything from her first meeting with Charles to dealing with loneliness and Bulimia. Recreating the most photographed and documented woman in the world is no small feat and Corrin was able to do this impeccably. She captured Diana’s youthful personality while showing her growth into the poised compassionate, troubled woman adored by the British public wonderfully.
Emerald Fennell played Camilla Parker Bowles, a woman who I hadn’t heard of until her engagement to Charles. The fact that I still do not know much about her apart from her relationship with Charles and its impact on his first marriage says a lot about how the British media and public feel about her. I didn’t warm to the character of Camilla at all but that was the point. Morgan was able to play on the fact that she is very much an enigma, painted as a villain in the biggest love scandal of British HIstory. Her jealousy of Diana seeps through every scene she is in. While there are moments you feel she tries to do the right thing, the show manages to capture her mainly enjoying her position in Charles’ life with little regard for much else. During her scenes with Charles, played by Josh O’Connor, there are moments where your heart breaks for them, two people clearly in love with each other and slot into each other’s lives perfectly only to feel distaste for them two minutes later for the way in which they both treat Diana. The scene in which both women go out to lunch shortly after Charles and Diana’s engagement has been announced is the perfect example of how much Camilla was a part of Charles’ world, while Diana was on the outskirts looking in.
The star of the show goes to Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Never in my life did I think I would feel an ounce of empathy for the divisive Prime Minister, but Anderson managed to capture the humanity in her you often forget when talking about her time in office. Anderson had everything down to a tee, from Thatcher’s infamous accent to her demeanor, including her courtesy to the Queen. Anderson was able to transform so completely into character. The scenes throughout the series where you see her getting ready on her own for a big speech and while she is silent as you see her slip into her shoes or fixing her hair with L’oreal Elnett Hairspray are done so perfectly, you can see Thatcher’s thoughts whirling in her mind.
You can get lost in the historical significance of the moments on screen for example the wrath of Thatcher as she sacked her cabinet was felt without a word of dialogue. You could feel the impact come through from the silent animated scenes paired with the curated music for impact. The lines between truth and fiction can blur but this is where the show’s brilliance lies. It makes you want to learn more about what is accurate and what parts Morgan has fabricated. For instance, the first meeting between Diana and Charles takes place in her home while she is in a costume showing Diana’s love of the arts. While it was based on facts the interaction was completely fabricated for show. It is exactly scenes like this that sparks discussions between family and friends.
Morgan has told his version of a poignant time in history beautifully bringing the show back to life. My only upset is we have to wait until 2022 to see the next installment of what has become a worldwide hit.