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The Crown, Season 4

Mass unemployment, Duran Duran, shoulder pads – the 1980s have well and truly arrived at Buckingham Palace. It’s definitely a departure from the demure 1950s we saw in series one of Netflix’s The Crown.

The series so far

So far, The Crown has covered the first three decades of Elizabeth II’s reign – from Claire Foy’s young Queen finding her feet in post-war Britain to series three’s seasoned professional, portrayed by Oscar-winner Olivia Colman.

But, though she may still be Head of State, Colman’s Queen Elizabeth is not necessarily The Crown’s starring character. Series three saw a more grown-up Prince Charles and Princess Anne navigating young adulthood and all the mess that comes with it. Charles falls head over heels in love with Camilla Shand, who is already in a relationship with Andrew Parker Bowles (no prizes for guessing who she marries first). As if that wasn’t messy enough, Parker Bowles is also seeing – drumroll, please – Princess Anne. Charles is left totally heartbroken – and in need of finding a wife (and future queen) the royal family approves of…

What can we expect from the new series?

Well, enter Lady Diana Spencer. The arrival of the ‘People’s Princess’ has had viewers waiting in frantic anticipation since The Crown’s release in 2016. Series four imagines the inner workings of Charles and Diana’s unhappy marriage, marred by Camilla’s constant looming presence.

With an emotionally distant husband and the entire world watching over her, Diana struggles with bulimia. Emma Corrin, who plays the princess in the new series, worked with the series’ creator Peter Morgan to make sure Diana’s battle with the disease was portrayed openly and honestly. As a result, the references to the princess’s bulimia are explicit, so these scenes could be triggering to viewers who have struggled with disordered eating (Netflix does provide trigger warnings and links to helpful websites at the start of some episodes).

However, the Princess of Wales is not the only new leading lady on the scene: 1979 sees Margaret Thatcher, played by the legendary Gillian Anderson, become Britain’s first female Prime Minister.

In the trailer for the new series, the Queen advises her Prime Minister, “it’s a dangerous game to make enemies left, right, and centre”. “What if one is comfortable with making enemies?”, Thatcher retorts. It’s safe to say the fiery rivalry between the two women will be a recurring theme throughout the series.

So, should I watch it?

If you’re looking for a light-hearted lockdown binge-watch, The Crown is definitely not it. It’s part period drama and part TV soap, with plenty of affairs, infighting, and a generally unlikeable cast of characters. But, somehow, it’s totally gripping, even if you’re not a fervent monarchist with commemorative crockery and year-round Union Jack bunting.

I'm a BA French and Italian student, currently on a year abroad in Turin and Paris.
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