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How The Crown Cast Compares To The Real People: ’80s Edition

Warning: Mild spoilers ahead for The Crown season 4.

It's time to welcome Queen Elizabeth II to the 1980s. Unfortunately, the decade isn't as rad for the royal family as she might have hoped it would be. Luckily, the new and returning cast of The Crown season 4 is.


The Netflix series picks up in the late '70s before heading straight to the '80s, a decade in royal history that is dominated by three women: the Queen, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Princess Diana. Neither newcomer makes things easy for the Queen, who is learning to adapt to the world around her. Her children are now all grown-up, even if they don't always act like it, and she's starting to question the job she's done. What is clear in season 4, is that the monarch is embarking on a new era that will be rife with dogged tabloid coverage. The Queen didn't refer to 1992 as her "annus horribilis" or "horrible year," for nothing, which means next season is going to be a doozy.

The Crown might not always stick to the facts — just this season, the series' creators took artistic license with this season's famous Buckingham break-in. But The Crown's casting director certainly does a good job of finding doppelgängers for those who exist in the royal orbit. Keep reading to see how the cast of season 4 compares to the real people.

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Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

The Real Queen Elizabeth II in the '80s

The '80s started off with promise: the Queen welcomed the first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and celebrated her son Prince Charles's royal marriage with Princess Diana. But as the decade went on, the Queen dealt with the Falklands War, a struggling economy, a PM who was apathetic on apartheid, and a Buckingham Palace intruder.

This decade is also when the private lives of the Queen and her family became tabloid fodder. Keeping Charles and Diana's relationship intact became one of her royal duties. By the end of the decade, she was welcoming a new Prime Minister and dealing with her son's failed marriage. Little did she know, it would only get worse in the decade to come.

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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Olivia Colman Plays Queen Elizabeth II

In season 4, the Queen takes a closer look at her country and her family and doesn't always like what she sees.

Where You've Seen Colman Before:
Fleabag, Watership Down, and her Oscar-winning performance in The Favourite
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Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

The Real Princess Diana in the '80s

Lady Diana Spencer was just a teenager, in 1977, when she met Prince Charles, who was 13 years her senior. By 1981, she was a princess, but it was a lonely role that Diana would later say left her struggling with an eating disorder and depression. In this time, she would give birth to Princes William and Harry, but would also feel like the third wheel in her own marriage.

In a now famous 1995 interview, Diana admitted that she long knew of Charles's relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she told the BBC. She would also admit to extramarital affairs of her own. By the end of the decade, her marriage was near ruin, but it wouldn't be until 1992 that her and Charles would officially separate.
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Emma Corrin Plays Princess Diana

Corrin's Diana makes her debut in season 4, and we get to see how her royal marriage with Prince Charles goes from fairytale to nightmare.

Where You've Seen Corrin Before: 2020's Misbehaviour, Pennyworth, Grantchester
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Photo: Jean GUICHARD/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

The Real Margaret Thatcher in the '80s

Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, a reign that was longer than any other British politician in the 20th century. She was also the first woman to ever hold the office.

Her penchant for being an uncompromising leader earned her the nickname the "Iron Lady." Her resistance to join the European Union led to a revolt that marked the end of her time in office. She was known for setting Britain on a new right-wing course known as "Thatcherism" and winning the Falklands war. She also played an important role in ending the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

Thatcher's relationship with Queen Elizabeth was deemed "complicated," by The Daily Beast. The women were born just five months apart, but had very different outlooks on the world due to their very different upbringings. Despite their reported frosty relationship, the Queen honoured Thatcher with the Order of Merit, recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture, shortly after she resigned from office in 1990.
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Gillian Anderson Plays Margaret Thatcher

Season 4 picks up with Thatcher's historic win to become the UK's first female Prime Minister. It also shows the ups and downs of her relationship with Queen Elizabeth II.

Where You've Seen Anderson Before:
Sex Education, Hannibal, The X-Files (duh)
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Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

The Real Prince Charles in the '80s

In his 20s, Prince Charles was deemed a "dashing playboy." On royal tours with the Queen, the eligible young bachelor out shined his ageing mum — something that would later happen to him. However, as he neared 30, his family urged him to settle down. By 1981, the 32-year-old prince was married to Princess Diana, who was 12 years his junior.

In the authorised biography, The Prince of Wales, Charles blamed his father Prince Philip for forcing him to get married. ″How could I have got it all so wrong?″ he is quoted as saying in the book. But there were early signs this relationship might not last. During their engagement announcement, an interviewer asked Diana whether she was in love. "Of course," she said. "Whatever 'in love' means," Charles said.

In an explosive 1994 interview, Charles admitted to being unfaithful during his marriage. While many, at the time, speculated he was having an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, he said she was just a "great friend."
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Josh O'Connor Plays Prince Charles

In season 4, the heir, now entering his 30s, is being asked to settle down. Unfortunately, he doesn't get much choice in the matter of who he marries. His relationship with Diana feels like royal history repeating itself. That definitely isn't a good thing.

Where You've Seen O'Connor Before:
2020's Emma., 2016's Florence Foster Jenkins, Peaky Blinders
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Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

The Real Princess Margaret in the '80s

In the '80s, Princess Margaret, then divorced from photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, began to suffer from health problems.
In 1985, she suffered a cancer scare, reportedly caused by her smoking habit. Unfortunately, she did not quit. During this time, Margaret, once considered the black sheep of her family, recommitted herself to her royal duties.

The Crown has always painted Margaret as a tragic figure, but the princess' official biographer Christopher Warwick didn't see her that way. "We’ve all gone through sad and unhappy times in our life and she was no different," he told The Cut last year. "But was she a sad or a tragic character? No, she wasn’t. Not at all."
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Helena Bonham Carter Plays Princess Margaret

In season 4, Elizabeth II's little sister is struggling with her health. She also learns a secret about her family that forces her to think about her role within the family.

Where You've Seen Bonham Carter Before: 2020's Enola Holmes, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Ocean 8. She might be best known as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films.
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Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

The Real Prince Philip in the '80s

Now known as a steadfast supporter of the Queen, he spent the '80s by her side touring the world. To begin the decade, he and the Queen made a historic visit to the Vatican to meet Pope John Paul II. It was the first state visit to the Vatican by a British monarch. In 1986, the couple visited China, making Queen Elizabeth the first British monarch to do so. It was not without its gaffes from Philip though. During this time, he was the first President of World Wildlife Fund-UK.

That commitment to the crown might have also led to Prince Charles and Princess Diana's marriage. Royal biographer Ingrid Seward said Charles "felt he’d been very pushed into marrying” Diana by his dad, who he was frightened of. “He told some of his friends that he felt pressurised into marrying Diana because Philip said, ‘You’ve either got to marry her or let her go. You can’t string a … young girl [along]. She’s only 19. You can’t string her along,’” Seward said. “And all the press is saying, ‘Oh, this is going to be the next queen.’ You’ve got to take a stand and say that this is not going to work, or you marry her.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Tobias Menzies Plays Prince Philip

In season 4, the Duke of Edinburgh finally seems comfortable with his role as husband to the Queen. He is now a confidante to the monarch, helping her figure out who her favorite child is, and to his new daughter-in-law Princess Diana. Let's just say with her, he's all about tough love.

Where You've Seen Menzies Before:
Outlander, Game of Thrones, Catastrophe

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Photo: Serge Lemoine/Getty Images.

The Real Princess Anne in the '80s

Over the course of her life, Anne built a reputation for being media-averse, but in the '80s her private life became tabloid fodder. There were rumours she was having an affair with Commander Timothy Laurence, who was once the equerry or royal officer to her mother.

She also reportedly did not get along with Diana. "Princess Anne, she had no time for Diana, she didn't like the way she went about her duty and the way she used the cameras and the media to promote herself in her eyes," the Daily Mail's Richard Kay said via E! News. "Anne had a much more traditional approach to the monarchy and royal duty."

In 1989, Anne separated from her husband Captain Mark Phillips. The two would divorce in 1992 and Anne would marry Laurence.
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Erin Doherty Plays Princess Anne

In season 4, the eldest and only daughter of the Queen is more miserable than ever. She's struggling in her marriage and to figure out her place in the royal family now that the tabloids have cast Princess Diana as her rival.

Where You've Seen Doherty Before: Call The Midwife, BBC's Les Misérables
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Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

The Real Camilla Parker-Bowles in the '80s

After marrying Andrew Parker-Bowles in 1973, she remained a close friend and confidante to Prince Charles. He is even the godfather of her son, Tom. And when Charles married Diana in 1981, Parker-Bowles was reportedly in attendance.

Despite being married to other people, Charles and Parker Bowles began an affair in 1986, according to the prince's authorized biography. But Diana told her biographer Andrew Morton that, in 1981, she realised they were having an affair after discovering a bracelet with the initials "G" and "F," short for "Gladys" and "Fred," engraved on it. Those were Charles and Parker-Bowles' pet names for one another.
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Emerald Fennell Plays Camilla Parker-Bowles

Since season 3, Camilla Shand married her on-off boyfriend Andrew Parker-Bowles, but she can't quit Charles. Despite his marriage to Diana, she is still his greatest confidante. That lunch she has with Diana is the definition of awkward.

Where You've Seen Fennell Before: Call The Midwife, 2012's Anna Karenina, 2015's Pan. She is also the showrunner for Killing Eve season 2 and the writer/director of the upcoming Carey Mulligan film Promising Young Woman.
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Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

Lord Mountbatten in the '80s

The Royal Navy officer and statesman, who was Prince Philip’s uncle and was also distantly related to Queen Elizabeth II, was a mentor to Prince Charles. The prince called him an "honourary grandfather," according to The Independent. He was killed in an IRA bombing in 1979.

Some have said his death led to Charles and Diana's marriage. A year after Mountbatten's funeral, Diana consoled Charles, saying she had never seen someone look so sad. "It was the most tragic thing I’ve ever seen. My heart bled for you when I watched. I thought, ‘You’re so lonely—you should be with somebody to look after you.'"
she said, according to Tina Brown's The Diana Chronicles.

Diana would later point to this event as a turning point for their relationship. In the documentary Diana in Her Own Words, she says Charles "leapt on [her]" after this exchange.
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Charles Dance Plays Lord Mountbatten

Uncle Dickie isn't long for this world, but before he goes, he manages to cause even more of a rift between Prince Philip and his son, Prince Charles.

Where You've Seen Dance Before:
2020's Mank, Game Of Thrones, The Little Drummer Girl
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Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

The Real Prince Andrew in the '80s

The third child and second son of the Queen and Prince Philip was a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy who fought in the Falklands War.

He was known as a the "party prince" for his history of dating actresses and models. In the early '80s, he dated American actress Koo Stark, who appeared in erotic films. It was the first scandal in a life that would be filled with them.

In 1986, he married Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson, earning him the title of the Duke of York.
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Tom Byrne Plays Prince Andrew

Season 4 introduces us to an all grown-up Prince Andrew, who clearly has issues with his older brother, but is the apple of his mother's eye.

Where You've Seen Byrne Before:
The recent theatre school grad doesn't have many credits to his name yet beyond an episode of Black Mirror, but you can see videos like the one here on his Twitter.
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Photo: Kypros/Getty Images.

The Real Sarah Ferguson in the '80s

After a short courtship and engagement, Sarah Ferguson, nicknamed “Fergie,” married Prince Andrew in 1986. It was reportedly Diana who helped set the couple up. She was friends with Fergie, who had worked at an art gallery in public relations, and then at a publishing house, before joining the royal family.

Like, the princess, Fergie's marriage would also sour. She and Andrew separated in 1992 after a racy photo of Fergie was leaked to the press.
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Jessica Aquilina Plays Sarah Ferguson

Fergie is in the background throughout season 4 as the loyal wife of Prince Andrew. But it's clear, the Queen has her eye on her.

Where You've Seen Aquilina Before:
The theatre actress and puppeteer makes her TV debut with The Crown.
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Photo: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images.

The Real Prince Edward in the '80s

The Queen's youngest son was nearing the end of his schooldays in the '80s. A lover of musicals, he worked as a production assistant at composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s company, Really Useful Group, according to Vanity Fair.

While Edward as become the most camera shy over the years, in 1986, he appeared in the reality TV competition It's A Royal Knockout for charity. It's still regarded as one of the most embarrassing moments in royal history.
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Photo: Gary Mitchell/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Angus Imrie Plays Prince Edward

The youngest of the Windsor clan shows up in season 4 to profess the importance of law and order to the Queen.

Where You've Seen Imrie Before:
2020's Emma., Fleabag, The Spanish Princess
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Photo: PA Images via Getty Images.

The Real Denis Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher’s husband made history by becoming the first male spouse of a UK Prime Minister. His role has been compared to Prince Philip's, in that he was there to make his wife's job easier.

He often made it easier for Thatcher to work with the Queen by charming the royal family. He reportedly got along very well with the Queen Mother.
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Stephen Boxer Plays Denis Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher's husband makes his debut, showing support for his Prime Minister wife and their daughter. Unlike Prince Philip, he appeared to take quickly to the role of a supportive partner.

Where You've Seen Boxer Before:
2020's Misbehaviour, 2018's Teen Spirit, Humans
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Photo: Graham Wood/Evening Standard/Getty Images.

The Real Carol Thatcher

The daughter of Margaret Thatcher was a journalist when her mom became Prime Minister. She would later write biographies of both her parents, often exploring her relationship with her mother. It was common knowledge that Carol's twin brother Mark was the Prime Minister's favourite.

In 2005, she won the reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
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Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images.

Rebecca Humphries Plays Carol Thatcher

In season 4, we meet Margaret Thatcher's daughter who isn't getting the respect she deserves from her history-making mom.

Where You've Seen Humphries Before:
Friday Night Dinner, Morgana Robinson's the Agency, Trigonometry
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Photo: Bill Rowntree /Mirrorpix/Getty Images.

The Real Mark Thatcher

The son of Denis and Margaret Thatcher was in his mid-twenties when his mom became Prime Minister. After reinventing himself as a race car driver, Thatcher's favourite child went missing in the Sahara Desert for six days during the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1982. The Prime Minister would later say the experience helped her put things "into perspective."

The younger Thatcher became a successful businessman who later served jail time for his involvement in an attempted 2004 coup in the oil rich Equatorial Guinea.
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Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for dunhill.

Freddie Fox Plays Mark Thatcher 

Margaret Thatcher's son doesn't get too much screen time in season 4, but the spoiled boy leaves quite a big impression.

Where You've Seen Fox Before:
The Great, Watership Down, 2015's Victor Frankenstein
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Photo: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images.

The Real Lady Fermoy

The maternal grandmother of Princess Diana was one of the Queen Mother’s ladies in waiting. In 1960, Lady Fermoy, né Ruth Roche, was named a Woman of the Bedchamber to the Queen Mother.

While it was reported that she set Diana and Charles up, she always denied the claims. In fact, the biography Diana: Her True Story, states that Lady Fermoy advised Diana against the marriage, explaining, "Darling, you must understand that their sense of humour and their lifestyle are different, and I don't think it will suit you."
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Photo: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images.

Georgie Glen Plays Lady Fermoy

Lady Fermoy shows up in season 4 to help the princess learn how to become the Queen. Let's just say her tactics are less than kind.

Where You've Seen Glen Before:
BBC's Les Misérables, Call The Midwife, Hulu's Maxxx
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Photo: R. Brigden/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

The Real Michael Fagan

In 1982, the 32-year-old unemployed London man broke into Buckingham Palace and ended up in the Queen's bedroom. He climbed a drainpipe and gotten in through an unlocked window. It was a massive breach of royal security, but it wasn't the first time Fagan had broken into the palace.

A month earlier he had broken in, he says, looking for the bathroom. "I was breaking my neck to go to the toilet. What do I do? Pee on the carpet? So I had to pee on the corgi food," he told The Independent in 2012. While there, he said he also "got into Charles's room and took the wine off the shelf and drunk it. It was cheap Californian."

As for what happened in the Queen's bedroom that morning, Fagan denies that the two sat down and had a chat. "Nah! She went past me and ran out of the room; her little bare feet running across the floor," he told The Independent.

Fagan was not charged in the incident because the palace said he was only trespassing, which was not a crime in Britain. However, during the first break in, he drank Prince Charles's wine, which was considered stealing. The jury acquitted him in 14 minutes.
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Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images.

Tom Brooke Plays Michael Fagan

In season 4, we get to see what happened to the Buckingham Palace intruder when he broke into Queen Elizabeth's bedroom that morning in 1982.

Where You've Seen Brooke Before:
Bodyguard, Preacher, 2017's Death of Stalin, Sherlock
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Photo: Bryn Colton/Getty Images.

The Real Bob Hawke

The Australian Prime Minister — and Leader of the Labor Party — from 1983 to 1992 has been credited with transforming the nation. He was also known as a bit of a rogue, who, during his first term as prime minister, announced that he thought Australia should become its own republic by 1988.

In 1983, he greeted Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their tour of Australia and New Zealand without stirring up anti-royal sentiment. Perhaps, because Diana had become so popular with the Aussies, outshining her husband. The couple's Australia trip has been cited as the straw that broke that marriage's back, according to The Guardian.

Hawke, who died last year, admitted to having a "love-hate relationship" with Margaret Thatcher. "We agreed on many things but our big point of difference was the apartheid regime in South Africa," Mr Hawke told Australia's SBS in 2014. "I led the fight in the Commonwealth against that, trying to smash it, which we would finally be successful in doing, but Margaret would never join that fight and so I had some famous stouches with her."
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Photo: Dominique Charriau/Getty Images.

Richard Roxburgh Plays Bob Hawke

In season 4, the Australian Prime Minister plays a villainous role in Prince Charles and Princess Diana's tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Where You've Seen Roxburgh Before:
Moulin Rouge!, Hacksaw Ridge, 2021's Elvis. He also played Bob Hawke in the 2010 TV movie, Hawke.
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Photo: PA Images via Getty Images.

The Real Michael Shea

From 1978 to 1987, Shea was the press secretary to the Queen. In 1986, he was accused of feeding a story to The Sunday Times that there had been a rift in the Queen's relationship with Margaret Thatcher. While he admitted to being the source of the story, he claimed that his comments were taken out of context. He left the job the following year.

Shea went on to write 14 political thrillers and five works of non-fiction including the 2003 memoir, A View from the Sidelines, about his time at the palace.
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Photo: Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images.

Nicholas Farrell Plays Michael Shea

A press secretary with a knack for wordplay he helps the Queen make headway with Margaret Thatcher, but also becomes her scapegoat.

Where You've Seen Farrell Before:
Chariots Of Fire (1981), The Iron Lady (2011's), Pearl Harbor (2011)
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Photo: Kent Gavin/Mirrorpix/Getty Images.

The Real Major James Hewitt

The former cavalry officer in the British Army claimed he had a five-year affair with Princess Diana starting in 1986.

In a 1995 interview, Diana admitted to having extramarital affairs, and though she didn't name names, publications like The Sun have taken this as a confession of a relationship with Hewitt.

Over the years there have been rumours that the red haired Hewitt was the father of Prince Harry. He has long denied those reports.
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Photo: Tristar Media/Getty Images.

Daniel Donskoy Plays Major James Hewitt

The former cavalry officer has an important connection to the dissolution of Princess Diana's marriage.

Where You've Seen Donskoy Before:
The Russian-born German actor appeared in 2016's Victoria.
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