Review: The Crown, S4

16 November 2020

By Lauren E. White

The Crown returned to Netflix last weekend after months of anticipation from fans around the globe. Knowing that series four would cover the years of Thatcher and Princess Diana, the series has been trending on Twitter for most of the past two days. But is it any good?

Well, the previous series of The Crown was pretty lacklustre. It saw the swapping of the magnificent Claire Foy as the Queen to Olivia Coleman. You’d think she’d have been stellar, but she just wasn’t quite right. Nonetheless, she returned for series four and, uncannily like the Queen herself, has gotten into the swing of things as time goes by. In series four, Coleman seems a lot more comfortable strolling round the Balmoral estate, on horseback and in conversation with all of her children – each of whom is portrayed excellently. Even Tobias Menzies’ stiff and awkward portrayal of Prince Philip has loosened up a bit in this series.

Perhaps this is because there is slightly less of them to look at and focus on, and much more exciting, juicy drama going on elsewhere. With the 1980s comes Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana – two totally different women, but each remarkable on screen.

The delightful acting of Emma Corrin as Diana is simply perfect to watch. She morphs into the princess with ease – even looking and sounding just like her. Diana’s effortless charm and her loneliness are honestly shown on screen in this series of The Crown and it’s the first time I’ve felt the royals really take some flack over their past behaviour. We see Diana’s bulimia begin to materialise quite early on in her engagement to cheating, lying and horrid Prince Charles. She may be in a Palace, but The Crown shows how non-glamourous eating disorders really are: it comes down, very simply, to someone who is so alone, feeling so alone, and harming themselves because of it.

Then there’s Margaret Thatcher. She is the jewel of this series of The Crown and her on-screen twin, Gillian Anderson, is perfect. When I first saw the trailers, I was horrified at how Anderson was playing Thatcher but it was all entirely flipped on its head once the series got started. This controversial woman appears virtually not controversial in series four as she wrestles with her own class and feelings of inferiority at Balmoral with the Queen and the rest of The Firm. Constant references to her class and their privileges makes you feel that the woman who did all she could to exacerbate class differences – and suffering – in Britain, was some kind of class hero. It’s wrong, but Gillian Anderson does it deliciously.

Additionally, we see Thatcher’s softer side in this series as she even breaks down in front of the Queen. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but when Thatcher’s son went missing (her favourite child, it is said), she does appear to be virtually superhuman. Waging a war in the Falklands and searching for her missing son, is there anything the woman can’t do? Well, there is, according to The Crown: it’s have fun and it’s get along with other women. The latter is the Thatcher we all know and hate.

Overall, though this series shouldn’t be looked at for an accurate historical portrayal of the Thatcher years, it should be for an accurate portrayal of the disgusting behaviour of our future King. His affair with Camilla is dramatised for us all to see, with virtually nothing changing from the actual events back then, and it’s heartbreaking to watch with Diana. It is Diana and Margaret (Thatcher) who make The Crown series four as great as Claire Foy and Matt Smith did, with Coleman’s Elizabeth taking a slight side-step this time around.

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