By now, you have already watched the latest season of the Netflix royal drama The Crown and its final episode that ended one chapter in the decades-long saga of the Windsor family and other high ranking members of British life and find yourself wondering how everything went down. Peter Morgan's landmark television series explored the inner workings of British royal life and government service alike between the years of 1977 and 1990, an era in which characters like Diana Spencer and Margaret Thatcher, who would each have an impact on the world in their own ways. It also shifted things around for the hierarchy of royals leading up to The Crown Season 4 ending. Spoilers ahead!
But with so many characters, storylines, and other events sprinkled in throughout the 10 episodes that made up The Crown Season 4, keeping track of everything that went down can be hard to follow. Luckily for everyone, we have put together a rundown of the major players and how things wrapped up for them as we look toward the future of the show, it's new cast, and the stories that are waiting to be told.
Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman)
Even though the cast of characters getting screen time in The Crown Season 4 was larger than ever, at front and center throughout it all was Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman in her final season as the British sovereign). Throughout the season, Elizabeth fights many battles against British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her son and heir who seems hellbent on destroying his marriage.
The Queen's years-old battle with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reached all new levels in the episode "48:1" when the head of Parliament and head of state go back and forth over the language of sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Previous seasons of The Crown featured disagreements between Elizabeth and different Prime Ministers, but none felt as personal as this one. The relationship is eventually restored following Thatcher's ousting from Parliament at which point the Queen presents her with a rare honor.
We last see Queen Elizabeth as she is trying to salvage the marriage of her son and heir, Prince Charles and his wife, Princess Diana when the relationship seems all but salvageable. In the episode "War," Elizabeth tells both parties to do what's right for their sons, the royal family, and most of all, the United Kingdom. We all know how that ends, however.
Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson)
Not since Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) in The Crown Season 1 had the show featured such a prominent and historic head of Parliament than Gillian Anderson's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the show's fourth season. From the first time we meet the divisive historic figure known as "The Iron Lady," we know that both she and Queen Elizabeth II are in for a fight. No one -- well no one besides those who have read up on their 20th Century British history -- knew just how tough and personal that fight would become.
Margaret Thatcher proved time and time again to be a woman of her word who kept her promises no matter the cost. This is seen in her reshuffling of her cabinet early in the season, the Falklands War, the aforementioned fight with Queen Elizabeth and ensuing battle fought through the media, and finally with her own party in the Season 4 finale. We last see a defeated, yet convicted nonetheless, Thatcher as she leaves 10 Downing Street just as the county finds itself on the eve of war once again.
Princess Diana (Emma Corrin)
One of the biggest moments of The Crown Season 4 was the introduction of Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin), who would eventually become the Princess of Wales and mother of the future king as the season played out. We are first introduced to Diana as a young teenage girl in a state of awe as she meets Prince Charles at her family's estate. By the time we last see Diana in the final moments of the Season 4 finale, that young, quiet, naive, and free young girl is now more mature and sure of herself, but shackled by the binds of duty to the crown, as her father-in-law, Prince Philip, points out in their Christmas day discussion.
The show's version of Princess Diana captures the very essence of the woman the real Princess of Wales would be remembered for following her tragic death in 1997. Her love of Princes William and Harry, her irresistible charm, and struggles with mental illness are all there throughout. And in those final moments of the season we see how the struggle between the princess' need of freedom and commitment to duty affects her.
Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor)
Prince Charles, played once again by Josh O'Connor, is no longer young and quiet Prince of Wales when he first shows up in The Crown Season 4, and instead is a man about town whose heart belongs to one woman, and one woman alone. That woman, however, isn't his wife, Princess Diana, but instead Camilla Parker Bowles, the prince's longtime lover and future wife who gives the insecure and sometimes petulant heir to the throne anything and everything he wants.
There are times throughout this latest season where you can't help but feel bad for Prince Charles as he finds himself trapped in a loveless and faithless marriage, but then he pulls something like the jealous fits he throws as the wold falls in love with Diana that make you turn on him quicker than you can blink. Every attempt at saving his marriage seems to lack love and faith as he quickly turns on Diana and returns once more to the Gladys (his nickname for Camilla). This time it seems for good.
Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies)
As new characters are introduced throughout The Crown Season 4, some longtime staples of the show are relegated to the "B Team" so to speak. And while Tobias Menzies' Prince Philip provides for some of the show's most powerful moments this time around, he is often seen playing a supporting role in various situations, most notably the failed marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Duke of Edinburgh's biggest contribution to the events of the fourth season comes in the final episode when he tells Diana that although he empathizes with her for feeling like an outsider in the royal family, she should know that everyone, himself included, are all outsiders and that the only "insider" is the Queen, who they should all serve no matter what.
Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter)
Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter), had been a major part of The Crown throughout its first three seasons, but just like her royal duties being reduced when Prince Edward comes of age, her place in the show's fourth season is just as limited. At times, the younger daughter of Queen Elizabeth II is only seen taking part in pre-dinner conversations and those gossip-filled lunches shared by the Queen, the Queen Mother, and other female members of the royal family. That all changes in "The Hereditary Principle" when a depressed Margaret learns of her first cousins (on her mother's side) who were hidden away in a metal hospital for fear of damaging the integrity of family following her father's ascension to the throne. By the end, she learns to accept her role, her depression, and deteriorating health.
Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell)
Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell), the only woman to really ever take up residence in Prince Charles' heart, is one of the most significant non-royal characters to play a role in The Crown Season 4. Constantly the third person in the Prince and Princess of Wales' marriage, Camilla realizes in the season finale that she could never marry Charles as she would always be known as the woman who got between him and Princess Diana, something from which she could never recover as Diana would always beat her in the eye of the public. This one will still undoubtedly unfold in the show's final two seasons.
Princess Anne (Erin Doherty)
Erin Doherty returned again as Princess Anne, the second oldest child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, and made the most of her limited screen time. There are some great moments in the early goings of the season when Anne and her father, Prince Philip, take part in some healthy competition and again as the Duke of Edinburgh tries to convince his daughter to not quit her equestrian career. As the season goes on, Anne finds herself becoming one of the elder members of the royal family and takes part in those lovely lunches between the women of the family. Her biggest moment at the end of the season comes when she calls Prince Charles out on his constant bickering about Diana and his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (Marion Bailey)
Just like in The Crown Season 3, the chapter in the royal drama features Marion Bailey as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. And just like in her previous appearance, the former queen mostly hangs out in the background. Well, except for her confrontation with Princess Margaret after the discovery of the hidden royal cousins in the mental hospital whose deaths were forged decades before anyone knew about them. In this argument the Queen Mother tells her daughter there was no choice and that the family had to do something to protect the crown, which is above everything.
Lord Mountbatten (Charles Dance)
Lord Mountbatten, played again by Charles Dance, is only featured in the first episode of The Crown Season 4 before his boat is blown out of the water by an IRA bomb off the coast of Ireland. He's included here because of his final conversation with Prince Charles over his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles and the difficult conversation between the Prince of Wales and his father following Mountbatten's death, both of which set the tone for the rest of the season.
Those aren't all of the characters featured throughout The Crown Season 4. There are those of Queen Elizabeth's two youngest sons, Prince Andrew (Tom Byrne) and Prince Edward (Angus Imrie), Michael Fagan (Tom Brooke), the man who entered Buckingham Palace in the dead of night, and many more.
And while most, if not all, off these characters will return in The Crown's fifth and sixth seasons, they will be played by a different set of actors as the show replaces its leads after ever two seasons to offer a more faithful portrayal of its aging central cast of characters.