The Crown season 4 review – a spectacular fourth instalment that is prodigiously delivered

By Daniel Hart
Published: November 14, 2020 (Last updated: January 26, 2024)
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Netflix series The Crown season 4


The fourth season of The Crown is nothing short of spectacular. Bringing to life Britain under Thatcherism, and weaving in the story of the young Princess Diana and her dysfunctional marriage with Prince Charles is prodigiously delivered. This is the best series of the year.

This review of Netflix’s The Crown season 4 contains no spoilers. The drama series will be released on the streaming platform on November 15, 2020. 

We recapped every episode — check out the archive. 

It’s outstanding how The Crown has made itself a staple of Netflix. From the first season, it could have been forgiven if the story of the modern Royal Family did not translate emotionally to a mass audience. It’s a hard sell promoting a period of history where the monarchy has become the backdrop of society, and where the head of state does not wield their power. But there has been thought and precision applied to this historical drama, detaching itself from the fact that it’s recent history and truly making the story its own bread and butter. The Crown emphasizes the meaning of monarchy, and it understands that the meaning itself can be the product of many stories. It’s standing in entertainment is established and after a perceived challenging Season 4, it’s well and truly a “must-see”.

We’ve seen plenty of representations of Margaret Thatcher but one performed by Gillian Anderson sets a new benchmark. From her recent gig in Sex Education, moving to one of the most divisive Prime Ministers of all time was always going to be graced with discourse. It’s scary how much Gillian brings Margaret Thatcher alive. From her mannerisms to physical movements and her long, droning voice — she brings Thatcher in the room to truly emphasize the woman she was and how she viewed Britain. The Crown season 4 brings a troubled political figure, allowing audiences to muster up their own mind on the debated Prime Minister.

And then, of course, The Crown season 4 introduces the eternally loved Princess Diana which will spur the headlines. There must have been nerves when the creators and writers sat around the table to bring a somber period in modern Royal history that still causes reverberations today. Bringing in Diana means facing her loyal admirers and fronting the scandal that has been mired in conspiracies and inquiries for years. But season 4 needn’t worry — not only does Emma Corrin transform herself into Diana, but it’s uncanny in delivery. There’s a sweetness that emanates from the actor; both Emma and the creators truly understood what Diana meant to the public. They understood how significant the relationship between Diana and Charles was and still is today. Season 5 and 6 bring in Elizabeth Debicki to take the reigns of an older Diana; she has a tough act to follow.

Like Season 3, the most fascinating element of The Crown is its themes of lonely isolation and sense of purpose to serve the Queen. The series embodies the privileged emptiness that comes with a life pre-determined and the wallowing depression that comes from not being able to create something for yourself. We often frown at the life of the Royal Family; we focus on the wealth and prestige, but we always forget that humans require a purpose in order to feel they have a place in the world. Like myself now, writing this review, as something as simple as this is hard to come by in a life that is scheduled based on a single duty — and in the case of these real-life characters, their only duty is to serve The Crown.

Season 4 escalates that notion with the introduction of Diana; a woman so disparate from the usual cogs of the Royal Family that her internal protest to how life should be is a welcoming contrast to the series. Even the simplicities of being a mother to her children show how The Crown is worlds apart from normal life. While Princess Margaret felt a great injustice for being second fiddle to her sister, and unable to acquire prominent duties, Season 4 shows a true outsider battling for normality through Diana; basic concepts of feeling the love from the husband and being able to be a family is an impossible dream with HRH title applied to a name. Diana encapsulates someone vying to be their own person rather than a pawn in a traditionally schematic system. By existence, The Crown manages to exemplify and justify the reasons why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to leave their royal title behind.

But with the introduction of Diana, The Crown season 4 puts her marriage with Prince Charles on the map. It delves into their fanciful early days to the darker days of resentfulness. With Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor richly embracing their roles, audiences will be strapped in and throttled by incredible scenes that feel narrow and claustrophobic — the series ensures that the audience could not escape the elephant in the room. It’s an intense case study of a Royal Marriage that became the story of the decade.

And with Thatcherism at the core of The Crown season 4, the Netflix series makes Thatcher’s unpopular decisions on the country veil over the story like a dark fog. The series infiltrates the position of Britain by overlaying the story with archive footage and flagrant narration, providing insightful scenes of Margaret Thatcher making decisions at crucial times, and wisely bring in the Queen for an unspoken opinion. While Thatcher’s Britain runs in the background for many chapters, audiences will still be able to feel it — the creators have managed to encapsulate the mood of the country at the time.

The fourth season of The Crown is nothing short of spectacular. Bringing to life Britain under Thatcherism, and weaving in the story of the young Princess Diana and her dysfunctional marriage with Prince Charles is prodigiously delivered. This is the best series of the year.

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