It took me two days to get through season four of The Crown. The first three episodes gave me an emotional overload, and I had to step away from it for a good four hours before watching more later in the evening. Let me just say that the season was surprisingly different than I anticipated but did bring me to tears on many occasions, especially when it came to Diana. Emma Corrin did a wonderful job in portraying the late Princess, reminding us why she was the people’s Princess despite being unloved by her Prince.
I had thought that season four would contain more of Charles and Diana, but it was interspersed with others such as Margaret Thatcher’s eleven years in office, and continuing struggles of the royal family on many levels with all of the Queen’s children being introduced. If anything is to be taken away from this season is that poor Diana married into Queen’s kingdom of dysfunctional individuals, without a soul really caring for her at all.
You will spend a few good hours watching Gillian Anderson’s brilliant portrayal of the Iron Lady and her political policies that didn’t always sit well with the Queen. Charles Dance will have a short window of opportunity before his ill-fated trip as Lord Mountbatten. Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret will continue to struggle with her physical and mental health in the shadow of her sister. Erin Doherty plays the very monotone and unhappy Princess Anne, only one of four miserable children all bemoaning their existence of being an unhappy royal child. Emerald Fennel plays Camilla, who by the end of the season you want to slap. Josh O’Connor, whose hands are perpetually in his suitcoat pockets, plays the unhappy Prince of Wales. He is both childish and cruel to Diana on so many levels that you pray it really didn’t happen that way. It’s not a pretty picture.
The Queen is the Queen, and Oliva Colman is perfect being the monarch who cannot show emotion. She is unable to return a simple hug to poor Diana so much in need of acceptance and love. In one episode she is concerned about how her children have turned out and their lives as adults. Nevertheless, she continues to demand duty to the crown, especially where whining Charles is concerned about his marriage to Diana.
Prince Philip is well portrayed by Tobias Menzies, who comes across more of a father figure this season. In a family who doesn’t give much attention to Diana, he becomes her approver early on and adviser at the end, clearly making her understand where her place is when it comes to the royal scheme of life – that everyone’s existence revolves around one person – the Queen.
As stated, I wanted more about Charles and Diana, but what is portrayed is so emotional that we’ve been spared additional heartbreak. Supposedly in real life he only saw her thirteen times before they wed. Diana was approved because of her title to be his wife, but he never loved her. He longs for Camilla, married to another man, with an obsession that is unexplainable. You’ll see very little about the birth of William and Harry, although there are a few scenes with the young children with her individually or when Charles and Diana show up as a couple separately to cheer them on, and then leave in separate cars afterwards to go their own ways.
Season four is heartbreaking, astonishing, disturbing, and above all well acted. The ending will leave you feeling like the look on Diana’s face during the last scene – brokenhearted and trapped in a family of dysfunctional royals.
Season five will bring us all new actors as the years go by and the royal family ages. Unfortunately, it’s another year’s wait to watch the family saga continue.