The contentious fourth season of The Crown


America’s days of being under the British crown are long gone. However, American fascination over the British monarchy increased as Netflix’s The Crown released its fourth season. This particular season takes place in the 1980s, a memorable yet controversial era in British history.

For all of the Millennial and Gen. Z readers, our parents lived through this time and were likely obsessed with Princess Diana. She was a fresh face to the monarchy having married Prince Charles. Charles, the heir to the throne, needed a young, good-looking virgin from an aristocratic background to fulfill the role of a future queen. Diana was just that. On paper, she was the perfect spouse in the perspective of the monarchic establishment.

In fact, Diana was significantly younger than Charles, which would be made apparent by his lack of interest in her. This season explores the façade of their fairytale marriage, as Charles was really in love with a woman named Camilla Parker-Bowles. Camilla did not meet royal standards but remained a socialite in British society. In fact, her marriage to Andrew Parker-Bowles was orchestrated by the royal family in order to prevent Charles from pursuing her.

Therefore, the big question is: should Charles fulfill his duty of being a future king by staying committed to his marriage with Diana or should he pursue his true love?

To make things more interesting, Diana was a teenager that was infatuated with Prince Charles and dreamed of marrying him one day. She was invited to the royals’ country home and swept everyone off their feet with her infectious charm and similar interests in outdoor activities. As a result, the royal family coerced Charles into marrying Diana. On a darker note, Diana did not know what she was getting herself into by quickly accepting the prince’s proposal.

Being one of the most famous women to have ever lived, Diana was the media’s prey. We got to see the contrast of her being adored by the public, yet dismissed by the royal family. Screenwriter Peter Morgan made it a priority to showcase the effects of Diana being plunged into her role as a future queen. Her bulimia and anxiety were some of the adverse effects.

If you’ve noticed so far, I’ve really only talked about Diana. Perhaps this is what the royal family despised, the enormous amounts of attention she received. I would say it was rightfully received, as she was the first “people’s princess,” not afraid to break the barrier between the royalty and the public.

What about Queen Elizabeth herself? In this season, we further see how committed the Queen is to performing her duty and preserving the monarchy. It’s her duty to bring stability to the nation. It’s her duty to preserve the Commonwealth of Nations, an alliance of former British colonies. It’s her duty to find a “suitable” spouse for the heir. More importantly, preserving the marriage between Charles and Diana was essential to protect the integrity of the monarchy.

In addition to dealing with the conflict between her son Prince Charles and her daughter-in-law Diana, Elizabeth met her match in government when Britain elected its first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. The media liked to paint the narrative of a catfight between the two women in power. In this season, you will get to witness the Queen being pushed to her limits, as Thatcher opposes some of the Queen’s core beliefs. In addition, we also get to observe Thatcher’s no-nonsense leadership style and strong conservative, nationalistic values.

At the end of the day, even though The Crown is based on real events in history, I encourage you all to watch the series with a grain of salt. The dialogue is fictionalized, and some criticize it as biased against the royal family. Certain events are added to the show for dramatic effect as well. Despite the fictional aspects of the story, I am sure The Crown will be enjoyed by all.