(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Season 4 of “The Crown” through its finale.)
“The Crown” finally reached the moment we’ve all — OK, many of us — have been waiting for with Sunday’s launch of Season 4, the installment featuring the arrival of Lady Diana Spencer (played by Emma Corrin) and thus the beginning of the end of her fairy tale romance with Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor). We get to see their quick courtship, their iconic wedding day, their honeymoon phase cut short quickly by Charles’ undying love for Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell), and the arrival of their sons William and Harry.
As Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ story unfolds and their marriage unravels on “The Crown,” it’s hard to ignore the fact we already know how it ends: with a high-profile divorce in 1996 and Diana’s tragic death in 1997. And if you thought putting those pieces of the puzzle out of your mind as a viewer was difficult, just imagine how challenging it was for Corrin and O’Connor.
“Josh and I found it really interesting. We had to keep reminding ourselves throughout the whole process not to play the ending, because it’s hard not to play the tragedy, because everyone knows how it ends,” Corrin told TheWrap. “And so that was really interesting for us. I think that also, we were really fascinated in the kind of slow realization for us both that there was a lot of love in the marriage between Diana and Charles. And I think it would be naive for anyone to assume that it would have happened if there wasn’t.”
She continued: “And as actors, it gave us so much more to work with if we took them from a place of falling in love and actually being in love and then realizing that there could be love in a relationship and it still can’t work. I think we gradually learned that the issue was they just couldn’t give each other what they needed, because essentially they needed the same thing, which is really interesting.”
Corrin, who joined “The Crown” cast for Season 4, says reading biographies about Diana did not help her portray the iconic princess. (Though she did a lot of research when it came to depicting Princess Diana’s bulimia on screen.)
“I found that there was so much speculation about here and so much tabloid stuff and noise. I felt quite saturated by it. But when I got the scripts, it was amazing, because I then realized and reminded myself that this is [creator Peter Morgan’s] version of the story that we’re telling. I’m playing a character that is fictionalized. So it gave me more freedom to bring my own version of Diana to life.”
The fourth season of “The Crown” ends with the British royal family’s private holiday celebration, and a conversation between Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) and Diana about the struggles she faces in her relationship with Charles, as he still loves Camila, while Diana is his wife and the mother of his children.
“As the dynamic, I think, increasingly, as the marriage got more fractured, it was really interesting the children came into the picture, because it added a space in which Diana could be happy and could be herself in a way that you increasingly don’t see her be happy or be herself around Charles,” Corrin says. “And I think it was lovely to see how the kids, as I think they always were in reality, be a source of such great joy to her.”
As is customary for “The Crown,” this batch of stars will be handing over their roles to new actors and actresses for the show’s upcoming fifth and sixth seasons, which will be the Netflix drama’s final years. Corrin’s part will be taken over by Elizabeth Debicki, who will be responsible for playing the final years of Diana’s life. Corrin says she hasn’t spoken to Debicki yet, but would “love to” if she wants some Diana tips.
“The Crown” Season 4 is streaming now on Netflix.