Royally (and generally) speaking, a lot has happened since Netflix dropped the third season of The Crown last year. In real life, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their royal exit — yes, Megxit only happened nine months ago — and, for only the fifth time during her 68-year reign, Queen Elizabeth gave a televised speech in April. But in the world of The Crown, returning November 15, we're back in 1977.
When we last saw Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman), she was celebrating her Silver Jubilee. As for Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor), his relationship with Camilla Shand (Emerald Fennell) is over (for now). Meanwhile, Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) just started up a new relationship with gardener Roddy Llewellyn (Harry Treadaway) after her marriage to Lord Snowdon (Ben Daniels) began to crumble. Unfortunately, her new romance didn't seem to end well, either.
With the introduction of Diana Spencer and new Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, it looks like season 4 will pick up right where season 3 left off in the late '70s. Although some plot points are still just speculation based on real events in British history, we actually know a lot about the new season — and the season after it, too. Here's all the information you'll need before November 15.
Which cast members are returning for The Crown season 4?
After season 2, cast members including Claire Foy, Matt Smith, and Vanessa Kirby bowed out in favor of aged-up actors. Although the main cast will be replaced one last time for The Crown's final two seasons, the season 3 leads — including Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, and Helena Bonham Carter — will all reprise their roles in season 4. Then, Colman and Bonham Carter will pass their crowns and tiaras to Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville, respectively.
Will Princess Diana appear on The Crown this season?
At long last, The Crown viewers will get to meet the people's princess. "I feel I've got to know Diana like you would a friend," Emma Corrin, who plays Diana, told British Vogue in September. "I know that sounds really weird, but I get a great sense of companionship from her." In season 4, we'll watch Diana meet and marry Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) before Elizabeth Debicki takes over the role in season 5.
We have some photos of Corrin in costume, too:
Who is joining The Crown cast in season 4?
Along with Corrin, Gillian Anderson will join The Crown as conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Season 4 will focus on her working partnership with the Queen, which began when Thatcher was elected in 1979. "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," Anderson wrote in a statement shared by The Crown's Twitter account.
What will happen in The Crown season 4?
Season 3 left off in 1977, just months before Prince Charles met Diana. You can probably expect to see a lot of their relationship in season 4 — and expect to see more of Charles, too. "Season 3 was about the introduction of Charles," actor Josh O'Connor told Vulture. "I think this [season], you’re right, it’s very much the Diane and Charles years." Bonham Carter also confirmed in an interview with Town & Country that season 4 will show her character, Princess Margaret, undergoing lung surgery. As for the Queen herself, we'll probably see her relationship (and conflicts) with Thatcher, especially as the new Prime Minister leads Britain into the Falklands War.
When was The Crown season 4 filmed?
Many shows have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there's a reason The Crown is right on schedule: shooting for season 4 actually wrapped right around the time TV and film production was shut down across the U.K. According to Entertainment Weekly, filming did stop a few days earlier than expected, but the cast and crew were still able to squeeze everything in before March 19.
How many seasons of The Crown are left?
Originally, season 5 was supposed to be the show's last. This summer, however, creator Peter Morgan announced that he would actually extend The Crown and film a sixth season. Don't get your hopes up about a Meghan Markle appearance, though: Morgan clarified that, as planned, The Crown's story will still end in the early 2000s. He simply decided that he won't be able to fit all the "richness and complexity" of the turn-of-the-century royal tragedies, scandals, and events in just one season.
When will The Crown season 5 start?
Usually, we get new seasons of The Crown around November, but the show is taking a hiatus in 2021 — you can expect season 5 to premiere in 2022. According to Deadline, this filming break isn't due to the pandemic and was always planned.