Fans have been waiting for season 4 of The Crown for a while. No offense to the first three seasons of royal family drama, but season 4 is our introduction to the good stuff. Namely, the Charles and Diana years (and after that, the William and Harry years). Non-royals only know the story that was shown in the newspapers, but according to The Crown's top stars, viewers are about to get a much more intimate look at the beginning of Charles and Diana's marriage — and the cracks that started to form early on.
In an August press conference centered on season 4 of The Crown, Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II), Tobias Menzies (Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), and Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret) spoke about the tenuous bond between Charles and Diana — and that Margaret knew that it was "doomed" from the start.
"It becomes very clear before the marriage that there are big problems and it's already compromised," Bonham Carter told reporters. "And I think there was a point in that early script when we were all trying to encourage this marriage to happen for the good of the country... he needed to marry."
But once it became obvious that Charles and Diana weren't a good match, Bonham Carter says, Margaret wanted a stop to the wedding because she didn't want the family's history of marital unhappiness to repeat itself — remember, Princess Margaret was not allowed to marry the man she loved in her younger days because her family didn't think him appropriate. "There was a sympathy for Diana," Bonham Carter continued. "She saw Diana being picked up by the press as she was... I think she conceived that Diana was too young." Diana was only 19 at the time of her engagement, to Prince Charles' 31.
If the family had an inkling as to Charles and Diana's ultimate mismatch, why did they insist the two marry? Menzies theorizes that it came down to both duty and an affection for Diana herself, especially from Prince Philip.
"He has some kind of appreciation for the challenges that she's going through. And I think on a very basic level, he just thinks it's a good fit," Menzies said, also mentioning that Philip was taken with Diana's beauty as much as his son was. "There's also this weird mixture of [the royals] in the business of... trying to make sure their son is happy, but also needing to kind of keep half an eye on that kind of what is required of the role and trying to find someone who can help his son, who maybe isn't perfectly fitted for the job of being king one day."
Menzies also went on to suggest that Philip "underestimated" Diana. "He is very beguiled by this beautiful young woman, and he doesn't really register the turbulence that is clearly in her. And obviously, once that's kind of unleashed within the fabric of the family, it ends up being very destructive to the family and, and obviously fatal to herself."
While the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana is complicated, at least the marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip finds "calmer waters" in season 4, according to Menzies. Though that's mostly because the duo is trying to help their adult children navigate the world. "It's generally warmer in this season... their challenges are coming really from their children," he said. Well, at least we know we only have to deal with doom and gloom in one royal marriage this season.
For now, fans will have to wait until November 15, when The Crown Season 4 premieres, to see the series' take on Charles and Diana's beleaguered relationship.