The fourth season of The Crown is the newest instalment of the royally pheromonal Netflix series that was made available on Sunday. The new addition to the series is the most adventurous and far reaching of the story so far; With the inclusion of one of the most controversial Prime Ministers, the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. This is the first, but not the last, of many historical events that will send viewers into a hurricane of emotions.
To kick-it-off, the series makes the viewer feel a whirlwind of emotion with the introduction of Diana Spencer, especially with the addition of the marriage troubles that were encountered with Prince Charles. Prince Andrew and Prince Edward make notable appearances within the series and for the first time ever glimpses of Prince William and Prince Harry as children.
This series, like none before it, moves swiftly through the main historical events that gripped the royal family between 1979 and 1990. Season 3 ended with the resignation of the former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Although season 4 does not pick up from where it started, it instead skips James Callaghan’s reign as Prime Minister and in the first episode decisively moves onto ‘the troubles’ that were endured for years in Northern Ireland with the assassination of Lord Mountbatten. The IRA are constantly in the background, they are a constant reminder that they played a threat to the royal family and Margaret Thatcher in the 80’s.
However, the main storyline lies with the love triangle of Camilla Shand, Prince Charles and Princess Diana. In the 80’s many newspapers labelled this as ‘the love triangle of the century.’ The Crowns representation of those events has not only re-sparked interest in this scandal, but also of the frustrations of how Charles treated Diana.
This is not the only unveiling of sensitive information that The Crown presented to us. It is reported that Netflix worked closely with the eating disorder charity BEAT to portray Diana’s eating disorder. At the start of three individual episodes there was a message of caution before watching because of sensitivity towards the issue of eating disorders. This was a key theme throughout the fourth series and expressed how badly the marriage between Diana and Charles had developed.
It has been frequent in previous instalments of The Crown to have background narrative to add to the overall story. It is episode 5 that steals the show of mini stories that are told in this series of The Crown. This is done in an eery episode that portrayed what it was like to feel the full wrath of Thatcherism. Michael Fagan an unemployed painter broke into Buckingham Palace to speak to the Queen of his worries on the irreversible damage that was being inflicted on the people of the United Kingdom at the time Margaret Thatcher was in office. This led Michael Fagan to be treated in a mental institution for three months.
This leads to the political administration that Margaret Thatcher led for all of the 1980’s. In office, Thatcher led many large majorities in the House of Commons. She notably started her reign in power by stripping the public sector of £3 billion pounds which was hugely unpopular and resulted in record unemployment. There were many scenes were the Queen expressed frustration towards Margaret Thatcher. This is uncommon as we have in previous series seen strict conduct of impartiality by the Queen thus far.
The series was not without its other royal family members. Princess Anne also gets attention in this series. Previously she has had little mention, but her narrative did consistently pop up with her marriage troubles, advice to Charles on his failing marriage and her proposed jealousy of Princess Diana.
Prince Phillip on the other hand had a very limited impact on this series. He was more of a spectator opposed to in the last few instalments. He only had a real impact until the dying minutes of the series with a very intense conversation with Princess Diana.
Season 4 of The Crown has out done itself in every way it has done beforehand. Leaving the viewer eager for the next series and desperate to see what happens next. Overall, this season of The Crown is the best yet and has created an interest in the royal family that many predecessors have failed to do in the past.
By Steven Brown