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Claire Foy’s ‘The Crown’ Season 4 Cameo Brings A Pivotal Moment For The Queen To Life

- The Crown -
Claire Foy’s ‘The Crown’ Season 4 Cameo Brings A Pivotal Moment For The Queen To Life

No, you're not seeing double, there really are two queens in The Crown Season 4. The fourth season of the royal Netflix drama includes a short, but meaningful cameo from Claire Foy as the younger version of Queen Elizabeth II in 1947, as she gives her famous 21st birthday speech in South Africa. It was during this speech the future queen dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth, which plays a key role in the Season 4 episode "48:1."

Short though it may be, Foy's return is a welcome one that reminds viewers that despite the constantly evolving cast, The Crown is ultimately telling one cohesive story about England's longest reigning monarch. Her cameo provides the cold open to the eighth episode of the season, in which the Queen (Olivia Colman) must grapple with her role as an apolitical figurehead. And while series creator Peter Morgan could have opted to simply use audio from the actual speech, seeing the earnestness in Foy's eyes as she promises to give her life to service adds extra weight to the older Queen's internal struggle throughout the episode.

"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong," the young queen says. But that promise becomes difficult to keep when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) refuses to join the rest of the Commonwealth in signing sanctions against South Africa's apartheid regime.

It's not within the Queen's power to force Thatcher to sign, even though it's something she feels strongly about, and the anguish behind her frustration is clear thanks to Foy's appearance: How can she serve her people and respect the limitations of her power at the same time?

Claire Foy's Cameo Isn't Just About The Youthful Naivety Of The Queen

Foy's return isn't just about establishing Queen Elizabeth's frustrations with Thatcher — it's also about highlighting Thatcher's origins as well. The scene is intercut with images of people around the world pausing to listen to the speech of their future queen, but Thatcher doesn't pause. Instead, the future prime minister, played by Eva Feiler, is in constant motion as she pursues her own political goals at Oxford.

Later, Anderson's Thatcher emphasizes to the Queen that they're contemporaries in age, separated by a mere six months. But while the Queen's power is something she was born with, Thatcher's is something that was strived for, as seen in a montage of her studying and giving a speech at Oxford's Conservative Association. The paths that they were own at the age of 21 were starkly different, and yet they both ultimately end up at the highest levels of the British government, sitting across from one another while reservedly clashing over apartheid sanctions.

Ultimately, Feiler, who is a virtual newcomer known primarily for her voicework in the Valorant video game, is just as essential to the episode as Foy, even though she only utters a single word (a greeting to the Conservative Association in Thatcher's trademark gravel-like voice). Seeing these two women juxtaposed in their youth as they head toward a showdown that would ultimately make the frontpage of The Sunday Times is a powerful way to start an episode about a clash between two of the most influential women of the 20th Century.

So far, The Crown has used cameos from its original cast sparingly, but Foy's Season 4 appearance should serve as a guidebook for how the series should approach these moments in the future: with a reserved, but meaningful weight befitting a queen and a carefully plotted story.

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Image Credit: Netflix

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