The Crown season four went into production long before season three's November 17 air date back in 2019 – which is proof of how confident Netflix is about the brightest jewel in its drama tiara, despite the fact that it didn't chart in the platform's most streamed shows of 2019.
Thankfully, that means we have plenty of information about what the next season of the royalty-focused series will entail.
So pick up your sceptre, chuck on your best tiara and get ready for everything you need to know about season four of The Crown.
The Crown season 4 cast: Who's in it?
The biggest casting news ahead of season four is the addition of Princess Diana to the line-up, with her life within the royal household a key focus of the next series.
Pennyworth's Emma Corrin has taken on the role and this is what she had to say: "I have been glued to the show and to think I'm now joining this incredibly talented acting family is surreal.
"Princess Diana was an icon and her effect on the world remains profound and inspiring. To explore her through Peter Morgan's writing is the most exceptional opportunity and I will strive to do her justice."
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she added: "When you are reading about Diana, you want to sift all the bullshit from the truth."
Morgan revealed his reaction to the casting through a statement (via THR): "Emma is a brilliant talent who immediately captivated us when she came in for the part of Diana Spencer.
"As well as having the innocence and beauty of a young Diana, she also has, in abundance, the range and complexity to portray an extraordinary woman who went from anonymous teenager to becoming the most iconic woman of her generation."
We'll talk more about Diana in a moment, but before we do that here's what you can expect the rest of the cast to look like.
Because The Crown recasts every two seasons, we know that Oscar winner Olivia Colman will return as Elizabeth II, alongside Tobias Menzies as Prince Phillip, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, Josh O'Connor as a young Prince Charles, Emerald Fennell as a young Camilla Parker Bowles and Erin Doherty as a young Princess Anne.
And you'll all be very excited to hear that season one and two's Queen Claire Foy will return to recreate the the Queen's 21st birthday speech, which took place during a commonwealth tour of South Africa in 1947.
She starred in the play Lungs at the Old Vic with her Crown co-star Matt Smith (Phillip) last year.
"It was very sad to say goodbye to the season one and two cast; they were brilliant and we'd all become friends," executive producer Suzanne Mackie told The Hollywood Reporter. "But I don't think any other show has recast its characters between seasons, so there is something both nerve-wracking and exhilarating too."
Another big signing for Morgan is Sex Education's Gillian Anderson, who has joined as Margaret Thatcher.
"I am so excited to be joining the cast and crew of The Crown and to have the opportunity to portray such a complicated and controversial woman," Anderson said in a statement.
"Thatcher was undoubtedly formidable but I am relishing exploring beneath the surface and, dare I say, falling in love with the icon who, whether loved or despised, defined an era."
And crucially, Anderson has Colman's seal of approval.
"The moment she opened her mouth in the read-through, you could feel everyone wanting to do a little silent 'Yay!' because she was so brilliant," she told Entertainment Weekly.
The Crown boss has teased some details about the Queen and Thatcher's relationship.
"I've always found it useful when thinking about her relationship with those men [prime ministers] to think of them in family terms," Peter Morgan explained on The Crown's official podcast.
"Churchill was a grandfather as a paradigm. And then Macmillan very much a father. I don't particularly count Douglas-Home. He was so brief and he was a family friend.
"But Wilson is the first... You'll understand what I mean when I say 'husband' paradigm. He's roughly the same age, or within a decade I think, and I think that also necessarily creates a very different relationship.
"And then you move through all the prime ministers and you get to someone like Blair, who would have been the first son. And Ed Miliband, had he won… would have been a grandson."
He continued: "[Thatcher is a] twin. Because they're six months apart. That's very much one of those emblems, the eagle with two heads, facing in opposite directions. A lot of similarities and a lot of differences.
If the show is to return after season four – the consensus is that it will – there will be yet another big casting change, but it remains to be seen who will join the supremely popular Netflix series apart from The Big One: it has been confirmed that Imelda Staunton will take over from Colman.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to confirm Imelda Staunton as Her Majesty The Queen for the fifth and final season, taking The Crown into the 21st Century," Peter Morgan said.
The Crown was nominated for Best Drama series at the 2020 Golden Globes, but was pipped to the post by HBO's Succession.
However Olivia Colman did scoop the award for Best Actress, beating out Jennifer Aniston, Jodie Comer, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.
Tobias Menzies, up for Best Actor, lost out to Succession's Brian Cox, and it was The Act's Patricia Arquette who won Best Actress in a Supporting Role over Helena Bonham Carter.
Chatting previously to Deadline about the nominations, exec producer Mackie said: "We're incredibly grateful that in such a rich year for British talent The Crown has been recognised. To see the new cast resonate with audiences and critics around the world has been an absolute thrill.
"We're delighted for Olivia, Tobias and Helena but also for the entire production team who have worked so hard to make the series — we're very proud of every member of the cast and crew."
The Crown season 4 release date: When can we see it?
Season one aired in November 2016, season two in December 2017 and season three in November 2019.
As season four has already started shooting (it kicked off back in August 2019), we expect the next instalment to land in late 2020.
"We're well into it now," Prince Charles actor Josh O'Connor told Harper's Bazaar in November 2019. "We've got many months left, they've got a few episodes in, so it's really exciting. And I think it will be the best yet, actually. I'm really looking forward to finishing that and then getting to share it sometime in 2020, I guess."
The Crown season 4: How important will Princess Diana be?
Diana will be central to the plot of season four, with the series' first-look focusing on the People's Princess. From meeting the public to taking a historic trip with Charles to Australia (her first official visit and Diana's first time overseas), the initial glimpses of her will be recognisable to older viewers.
"We need a mesmerising new young star with extraordinary range," read a casting notice for the role.
"She has to play charming comedy, flirt and social exhibitionist on the world stage, desperate and lonely self-harmer at her lowest ebb and the kind of psychological intensity of Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby."
Chatting about where he feels Charles is at the end of season three to Harper's Bazaar, O'Connor said: "There's obviously that underlying feeling, the anger and the anguish and the upset that he hasn't been able to marry the person he loves, essentially. I guess the cynicism of the meddling by the family is quite profound... there are echoes of how Margaret was treated, and so I guess you could describe it like a preemption of what's to come...It feels we've seen the repercussions of what happened to Margaret. Look what that did to her mental health, her well-being.
"Basically, we end the series with Charles feeling… I mean, it's another knock back essentially and now he has to start again. And what that means for series four, of course, is with the time with Diana and things like that."
"I mean, there’s obviously nothing I can say about the story, but in terms of filming, we just had a great time, and Emma’s doing a brilliant job, and it’s breathtakingly accurate; she looked the spitting image [of Diana], and it’s kind of extraordinary. So that’s kind of spooky."
We’ve had a new look at Emma Corrin as Princess Diana and, he’s right, the likeness is pretty astonishing.
O'Connor has also said that season four will showcase a side of Charles that we haven't yet seen on the show.
"Hopefully, people will feel sorry for Charles in season three, and then, maybe, we'll change that in season four," he told Town and Country. "Certainly, it feels like there's a definite shift being told in season three. And all across four, there's definitely a different side to Charles that we're going to see."
O'Connor feels that Charles ended season three in an interesting emotional place.
"I think it’s an interesting place. There’s obviously that underlying feeling, the anger and the anguish and the upset that he hasn’t been able to marry the person he loves, essentially. I guess the cynicism of the meddling by the family is quite profound."
"If you’ve watched it since series one and two, there are echoes of how Margaret was treated, and so I guess you could describe it like a preemption of what’s to come."
The Crown season 4 time period: What years are covered?
We know that the fourth chapter will kick off just before the 1980s – Thatcher became prime minister in 1979 – and will chart the lion's share of the decade, which means we'll see all of her reign given that she remained in office until 1990.
According to The Times, the episodes will cover the Queen and PM's clashing views regarding Apartheid in South Africa, the miners' strike of 1984-5, and the Falklands War in 1982, which Prince Andrew served in. We've only seen him as a baby thus far, so that's another new casting that could potentially happen.
Given the role that US presidents have played in the series so far, there's a chance we could also meet Ronald Reagan, and in 1981 six shots were fired at the Queen during the Trooping of the Colour, so that could also feature.
Charles and Diana married in 1981, so we'd expect to see that also, and press pictures have emerged of O'Connor and Corrin filming in Spain, recreating the couple's royal tour of Australia in 1983. Prince William, just nine months old at the time, joined them on his first royal tour.
There are also reports that Tom Brooke will play Michael Fagan, a man who broke into the Queen's bedroom in 1982.
In 1987, there was a charity game show involving custard-pies, called It's A Royal Knockout, in which Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson featured. Tonnes of people watched it and loads of money was raised for charity, but the royals were widely mocked for it – so could we see that too?
One thing's certain, now that we know the series will be ending with season five (one season earlier than expected), there’s a lot to fit into season four.
"At the outset I had imagined The Crown running for six seasons but now that we have begun work on the stories for season five it has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop," Peter Morgan said in a statement.
"I'm grateful to Netflix and Sony for supporting me in this decision."
The Crown season 4 trailer: When will we get our first look?
Expect it to land mid-November if the show airs in December 2020, and mid-October if it airs in November 2020.
Bookmark this page for all the latest The Crown season four news and scoops.
The Crown seasons 1-3 are available now on Netflix.
Digital Spy now has a newsletter – sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox.
You Might Also Like