Covering more than a decade during a turbulent period in UK history, The Crown’s fourth season begins with Margaret Thatcher’s (Gillian Anderson) election as Britain’s first female Prime Minister in 1979. In a time of great turmoil both domestically and abroad, multiple challenges and scandals threaten the status quo. The arrival of Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) ushers in a new era of tabloid rumors that reshape the popularity of the Windsor clan, and Princess Diana’s sensational 1992 tell-all — covering this unhappy union with Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) — is a wealth of information.
It is impossible for The Crown creator Peter Morgan to cover every single major personal and professional story that impacted Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) and her family in the ‘80s, but this season did have a few weeks left on the shooting schedule before production was halted in March, due to the global pandemic. Rather than wait until an unspecified date when they could finish, Morgan decided to work with what he already had in the can. “The truth is, yes, we are missing at least two weeks of filming. I just hope you can’t tell where,” Morgan told Vanity Fair in September. While this is perhaps the strongest season so far, there are definitely events — both public and private — that are absent from the narrative.
Morgan hopes viewers won’t notice the missing jigsaw piece, but this doesn’t mean we can’t speculate about the noticeable gaps. Of course, major scenarios have been overlooked in the past, including Princess Anne foiling her own kidnapping attempt — why this made-for-TV real-life incident was skipped is still mind-boggling. Knowing there were scenes to be shot gives us a creative license to ruminate about the missing script pages. Furthermore, episodes are not shot in sequence, which suggests the material could be from any juncture during the ‘80s. From Diana’s vital AIDS awareness work and support for the LGBTQ community to Thatcher’s political maneuvers, below are 10 notable events that are absent, how they would fit into the narrative, and whether this plot has been covered elsewhere in the series.
The first episode opens with a call to “Spill more blood so that the Crown leaves Ireland forever.” What follows in “Gold Stick” is an IRA attack on Lord “Dickie” Mountbatten’s (Charles Dance) boat, which saw the Queen’s cousin killed in the bombing. This is the first time The Crown has directly addressed the Troubles — some criticism was leveled at the lack of Irish context in Season 3 — but it is limited to this one episode. In 1984, the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton, which was hosting the Conservative Party annual conference at the time. Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were the intended targets, and while the PM survived the assassination attempt, the bomb killed five (including Conservative MP and Chief Deputy Whip, Sir Anthony Berry) and injured 34. Maybe Morgan thought he had covered this topic, but this conflict requires more than one episode of material.
Miners’ Strike (1984-1985)
When Michael Fagan (Tom Brooke) breaks into Buckingham Palace (not once but twice) in the fifth episode, this portrayal of the unconventional 1982 private meeting with the Queen takes a step outside the privileged walls of Royal life to reveal how Thatcher’s policies have ravaged Britain. Despite unemployment figures soaring, Thatcher was reelected the following year — victory in the Falklands gave the PM a popularity boost. One sector ravaged by Thatcherism was mining, which led to major industrial action in 1984. This was the biggest general strike since 1926 and lasted a few days shy of one year. What is curious about this season is that the first five episodes only cover a three year period, which means the rest of the decade is truncated. Events like the Miners’ Strike and the protestors who marched on London probably didn’t impact the Windsors, but it is an integral factor in the rising inequality bolstered by Thatcher’s policies.