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On Nov. 15, Netflix released the highly-anticipated fourth season of “The Crown,” much to the delight of the period drama’s millions of viewers. I myself always look forward to a new season of “The Crown,” as it means sitting transfixed in front of my TV for a few days and randomly Googling questions like, “Did someone actually break into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom in 1982?” 

The show’s fourth season has been long-awaited for many “Crown” fans, as it chronicles a rather historic chapter in the British Royal Family’s modern history: the 1980’s. Season four translated an impressive amount of events to screen, including the union of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher’s terms as Prime Minister, and the births of Prince William and Prince Harry. Despite the delicate juggling act that this season required, Showrunner Peter Morgan still managed to craft one of the best seasons yet in the Windsors' multigenerational story, complete with “The Crown’s” familiar lavish flair and emotional poignancy. 

**Warning: Spoilers Ahead**

Taking center stage in “The Crown’s” fourth season is the tumultuous marriage between Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The depiction of their relationship was perhaps the most anticipated element of this season, and “The Crown,” once again, did not disappoint. Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin both shine as the Prince and Princess of Wales, bringing both the couple’s most press-worthy moments and more personal struggles to the small screen with empathy and authenticity. 

Some of the best television I’ve enjoyed all year was watching the season’s third episode, “Fairytale.” In this episode, we are given an intimate look into the beginning of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage, primarily through a then 19-year-old Diana Spencer’s point of view. Audiences are treated to watching the young princess blaring “Edge of Seventeen” from an open car window, roller skating around the halls of Buckingham Palace, and responding to her buckets of fan letters. But as the narrative of her  “fairytale” with Prince Charles begins to spread, viewers are also given an intimate look into the princess’s private struggles, including bulimia, isolation, and her fiance's infidelity. The episode culminates with the couple’s famous wedding day on July 29, 1981, complete with breathtaking wide shots of Corrin and a complete replica of Princess Diana’s famous wedding dress with a 25-foot train.

Much like in real life, Princess Diana’s undeniable presence and magnetism captured much of the attention surrounding season four’s release, even stirring up some controversy online. Audiences’ reactions to season four’s iteration of the people’s princess is truly a testament to Emma Corrin, who took on the portrayal of such a beloved public figure with incredible grace and ease. While Corrin completely nails Princess Diana’s downcast gaze, soft-spoken mannerisms, and accent, she also manages to make the character her own rather than merely imitating the late princess. Corrin especially shines in scenes beside Josh O’Connor, as the two bring the Prince and Princess of Wales’ most explosive moments to a blazing life with palpable acting chemistry.

Although much of this season focuses on Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II still remains the show’s beating heart, or as Tobias Menzies’ Prince Phillip states, “the air we all breathe.” Olivia Colman delivers another stellar performance as the dispassionate yet complex sovereign. While this season focused much less on her marriage to Prince Phillip, viewers do get to see significantly more of the queen’s four children which is a very welcome addition and allows the show to explore much more of Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with her children (as well as mention which one is her favorite!).

Gillian Anderson’s Margaret Thatcher was another standout of this season. Anderson’s mastery of Thatcher’s distinct gravely voice and other imposing mannerisms rival that of Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” and might even cause you to do a double-take. Anderson truly embodies the famous British leader and offers one of the best portrayals of “The Crown’s” Prime Ministers since John Lithgow’s Winston Churchill. 

While season four remains one of the Crown’s most impressive seasons to date, there still remains a very apparent Princess Margaret-shaped void. Although the Queen’s free-spirited sister is a major player in the show’s first three seasons, Princess Margaret takes a backseat until this season’s seventh episode. While exploring Princess Margaret’s struggles with depression, feelings of obscurity and her romantic relationships following her divorce make for a memorable episode, Helena Bonham Carter’s captivating take on Princess Margaret was grossly underutilized this season. Lesly Manville will be taking up the mantle of Princess Margaret for season five, however, it would have been a pleasant addition to the current season to give Bonham Carter’s iteration a bigger last hurrah.

If you binged this past season as fast as I did, you might have to wait a little longer to satiate your cravings for more familial drama and political intrigue. “The Crown’s” fifth season is expected to be released in 2022. The fifth season will also mark the addition of another brand new cast to play the ever-maturing royal family, including Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II, Jonathan Pryce as Prince Phillip, and Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana.

“The Crown” is now streaming on Netflix.

Marissa Joyce

George Mason University '22

Marissa is currently a senior at George Mason University and serves as Senior Editor of George Mason's Her Campus chapter. At Mason, she is pursuing a double major in English and Communication. When Marissa isn't writing articles, she can be found over-caffeinated, tackling her extensive library of books, or curating her vinyl record collection.
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