The royal family continues to grow on The Crown. ET has learned that Thomas Byrne has been cast as Prince Andrew in season four. The newcomer, who has had bit roles as a child actor, will portray Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s third child in his 20s as the series moves into the 1980s.
The news comes after the British actor was recently spotted filming scenes in London with Josh O’Connor, who is reprising his role as Prince Charles in the series’ penultimate season. The pair were photographed recreating an Buckingham Palace Easter egg hunt.
While Prince Charles and Princess Anne were major characters in season three, Prince Andrew has yet to make a formal appearance on the series. Season four will mark the character’s introduction -- and likely means The Crown will also touch on his relationship with Sarah Ferguson. The two were married from 1986 to 1996, which overlaps with Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana.
According to O’Connor, season four will largely focus on the relationship between Charles and Diana, which he calls “an iconic period for the royal family.” Emma Corrin has been cast as the late royal and has been spotted recreating several of Diana’s iconic outfits from the early days of their marriage.
Meanwhile, Prince Andrew has recently become a controversial figure thanks to his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and an ill-advised television interview. Following the backlash, the Duke of York announced that he was stepping back from royal duties “for the foreseeable future.”
“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” Andrew said in the statement. The 59-year-old royal also revealed that Her Royal Highness gave her permission for her son to step down.
While confirmed for season four, it’s unclear if Byrne will stay in the role for season five. Traditionally, the actors play their respective parts for two seasons before being recast. When the show was originally announced, it was believed it would run for at least six seasons. In January, however, creator Peter Morgan announced that season five, with Imelda Staunton taking over as the Queen, would be its last.
While speaking with ET, O’Connor said he “can’t imagine Peter would want to get too close to where we are now.” While not directly mentioning the royal family’s current drama or the fact that Prince Harry recently told biographer Angela Levin that he wants the series to end before they get to his story, the actor thinks they must have come to “a realization that really the story ends at season five,” which will likely serve as a bookend to season one.