Previously, I wondered if The Crown season four would really get smutty and dive into the glamour and gossip of the Diana Years. Well, the teaser for season four is out, and it is all drama, all the time. This teaser is HEAVY on Diana, juxtaposing the “fairy tale” of her marriage with Prince Charles against images of the sour, dour royal family. Here is Diana, young and carefree, and there is the queen, looking grim, and Prince Philip, looking mad, and Princess Margaret looking especially bleak—even Margaret Thatcher has her tightest lips on. Everyone looks so sad and unpleasant! And then there is Diana, like a fresh breeze swirling through the palace in light, bright colors. Are they doing it? Are they GOING THERE? Reader, I think they might.
This particular season of The Crown is probably arriving at just the right moment. The royal family is one big cycle of turmoil, scandal, and rebirth, but the 1980s is when it feels like the wheels started to come off in an irretrievable way. A lot of it, of course, is hindsight, things we learned about the workings of the Firm upon Princess Diana’s exit in the 1990s, but there is also the juxtaposition of a country emerging from the “Winter of Discontent” and facing recession with the lavish, indolent life of the royals. Ostentatious displays of wealth are especially hard to take during times of economic hardship, and we are currently in a time of economic hardship for many. A season of The Crown focused not on the post-war idyll of Princess Elizabeth and her dashing suitor-prince, and Princess Margaret and her glamorous, illicit affair, but on Charles and Diana’s miserable marriage and the horrendous disfunction of both private and palace life seems about right for 2020. No one wants to see happy, content Windsors right now, so bring on the Diana drama and let us revel in the vicarious thrill of rich people who hate each other behind closed doors.