'The Crown' Season 4: This Season 1 Cast Member Makes a Surprise Return
16th November 2020

The Crown has finally returned. The Emmy-winning Netflix drama delivered its most dramatic season yet on Sunday, Nov. 15, and fans are sure to love newcomer Emma Corrin’s uncanny portrayal of Princess Diana and Gillian Anderson’s spot-on Margaret Thatcher.

What they might not expect, however, is a return of a beloved character from Season 1.

[SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers for Season 4 of The Crown ahead.]

Claire Foy returns in ‘The Crown’ Season 4

In Season 4 Episode 8, titled “48:1,” viewers get to see Claire Foy reprise her Emmy-winning role as the young Queen Elizabeth II. She appears in a brand new flashback scene that opens up the episode and sets the tone for the conflict between Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth and Anderson’s Thatcher.

Foy played Elizabeth in Seasons 1 and 2 of the show. She was previously seen in photographs during Season 3, and Jared Harris (who played King George VI) and Matt Smith (who played Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, alongside Foy) also appear in photos in Season 4. But the opening scene of Season 4 Episode 8 marks the first time Foy appeared in new footage for the series since Season 2.

The 36-year-old’s return to the series might not be a surprise to some. She was photographed on set of The Crown back in November 2019.

Claire Foy’s scene in ‘The Crown’ Season 4 recreates Queen Elizabeth II’s 21st birthday speech

Foy’s scene recreates the speech then Princess Elizabeth gave on her 21st birthday. The speech, which was given in Cape Town, South Africa, on April 21, 1947, served as Elizabeth’s first major speech to the Commonwealth. In her remarks, she expressed her dedication to her subjects around the world. The Netflix drama’s recreation of the speech paraphrases Elizabeth’s remarks, but the excerpts it does pull are recited nearly verbatim.

“On this, the occasion of my my 21st birthday,” Foy starts off, “I welcome the opportunity to speak to all the peoples of the British Commonwealth and Empire, wherever they live, whatever race they come from, and whatever language they speak.”

“As I speak to you today from Cape Town I am six thousand miles from the country where I was born,” she continues. “But I am certainly not six thousand miles from home. That is the great privilege belonging to our place in the world-wide commonwealth—that there are homes ready to welcome us in every continent of the earth. Before I am much older I hope I shall come to know many of them.”

The young princess’ speech is contrasted by shots of a young Thatcher at school. It’s an effective opening for the episode, which portrays Elizabeth and Thatcher’s disagreement over issuing sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. The monarch is staunchly for sanctions, as are the other leaders of the Commonwealth. Thatcher is the only one who doesn’t want to impose sanctions.

Colman’s Queen Elizabeth spends the entire episode trying to convince her otherwise. After Thatcher finally budges and agrees to the sanctions, Elizabeth makes the unprecedented move of allowing The Sunday Times newspaper to report of a rift between her and the Prime Minister. This move resulted in a dramatic fallout, as well as an intense scene between Anderson and Colman.

To this day, the royal family’s press team denies that the queen ever allowed this report to be made. It went against the monarchy’s longstanding policy of never divulging information regarding the relationship between the monarch and the head of Her Majesty’s Government. But The Crown clearly has its own opinion of how the events transpired.

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