If you’re a fan of Netflix‘s The Crown, you’ve already binged your way through Season 2’s ten episodes and are hungry for more.
Long before casting Colman, series creator Peter Morgan insinuated that casting an older actress as Elizabeth would bring a new perspective to the character. “What’s so beautiful about Claire is her youth,” he told Variety ahead of the first season. “You can’t ask someone to act middle-aged. Someone has to bring their own fatigue to it. The feelings we all have as 50-year-olds are different than the feelings we all have as 30-year-olds. That informs everything we do.”
Colman—who previously played Elizabeth’s mother, the Queen Mum, in 2012’s Hyde Park on Hudson—has said that she’s already spoken to Foy, who has given her some advice. “She said I’ll have a lovely time, everyone on it is amazing; the voice coaching is impeccable,” Colman told the BBC. “They were all amazing, so I’m just full of fear because you don’t want to be the one who screws it up. She’s lovely and she said I can call her anytime . . . I’m basically going to re-watch every episode and copy her.”
The Time Frame
The Crown will pick up in the 1970s, according to two production members. Producer Suzanne Mackie confirmed as much over the weekend, revealing that audiences “start meeting Camilla Parker Bowles in Season 3.” Charles met Parker Bowles, then Camilla Shand, at a polo match in 1971 and dated her until leaving for the Royal Navy in 1973.
The Crown’s history consultant, Robert Lacey, confirmed the timeline in a separate interview. “We’re now writing Season 3. And in Season 3, without giving anything away—it’s on the record, it’s history—we’ll see the breakup of this extraordinary marriage between Margaret and Snowdon,” he told Town & Country,referencing Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon’s 1976 separation and 1978 divorce. “This season, you see how it starts, and what a strange character, a brilliant character Snowdon was.”
The first season chronicled eight years, while the second season spanned seven, suggesting that the third could possibly span from about 1971 to 1979. According to Variety, “early production” on the third season was underway in October. It is unclear whether The Crown will be able to fast-track the season in time for another December season debut in 2018.
Series M.V.P. Princess Margaret will continue to deliver during this particularly juicy period of her personal history. Though both Margaret and Lord Snowdon, who married in 1960, were rumored to have had affairs during the first 10 years of their marriage, the royal marriage is said to have really begun crumbling in 1973, when Margaret, then 43, met and fell for Roddy Llewellyn, the 25-year-old son of Olympic gold medal-winning show jumper Sir Harry Llewellyn.
A snapshot of the relationship, and the state of Margaret’s marriage at the time, per The Telegraph:
So well did they get on, the princess invited [Llewellyn] to be her guest at Les Jolies Eaux, her home on Mustique. But during their first year the relationship proved too much for Llewellyn, who went off traveling in an attempt to “find himself.” The princess was distressed. Her husband was by now in a relationship with his assistant, Lucy Lindsay Hogg, who was to become his second wife. She had asked him to move out, but he had not. Now her young lover had disappeared.
At the height of her distress, and unable to sleep, she took a handful of Mogadon tablets and anxious staff found they were unable to wake her. Friends have always denied that it was an attempt at suicide. She would later explain: “I was so exhausted because of everything that all I wanted to do was sleep . . . and I did, right through to the following afternoon.”
Alas, when Margaret and Llewellyn reunited, she was a little too lax with her beau. In February 1976, a tabloid published a photo of the still-married Margaret and the much younger Llewellyn in swimsuits on Mustique—causing a truly royal scandal. The photo also drove Snowdon, a serial philanderer himself, to his breaking point. When an aide alerted Margaret by phone of Snowdon’s willingness to officially divorce, the princess is said to have responded, “Thank you, Nigel. I think that’s the best news you’ve ever given me.”
Actress Vanessa Kirby, who currently plays Margaret, told media outlets that she is heartsick she can’t play the royal through this period of her life: “I was so desperate to do further on . . . because it’s going to be so fun [to enact] when their marriage starts to break down. You see the beginnings of that in Episode 10. I kept saying to [series creator Peter Morgan], ‘Can’t you put in an episode where Margaret and Tony have a big row, and she throws a plate at his head?’ I’m so envious of the actress who gets to do it.”
Matt Smith, who currently plays Philip, gave Seth Meyers a clue about the actor who will succeed him. “I don’t want to speculate too much, but . . . he’s brilliant, if it’s the person I think it might be,” Smith said. “And he’s incredibly handsome as well. I’ve morphed into someone far better-looking than I.”
Potential Story Lines from the 70s
The 70s are remembered for being particularly grim for England—economic decline, picket lines, and because of the 1972 miners’ strike, a power crisis resulting in a state of emergency. Per the BBC, “In many ways [the decade] marked a reckoning for a country that had been too complacent for too long, basking in the sunshine of post-war affluence, and indifferent to the fact that our foreign competitors had not only caught up with us—they were leaving us behind.”
By the end of the decade, Queen Elizabeth was particularly worried about the crown’s seeming lack of significance to Canada. During a visit to Buckingham Palace in 1977, the controversial Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, in an infamous story retold by the Global News, “was walking behind the Queen en route to dinner when he executed a pirouette, apparently an expression of disdain for the pomp and circumstance of the monarchy.”
In 1979, a former curator of the Queen’s art collection was unmasked as a Soviet spy. The same year, Philip’s uncle Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
In family news, the former King Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor, died in 1972. The Duchess of Windsor, better remembered as Wallis Simpson, who was not entirely welcomed by the royal family when she lured her husband off the throne, stayed at Buckingham Palace ahead of the duke’s funeral—a visit which we pray will be chronicled in The Crown’s next season.
But there were happy times that will make for incredible television too, like the 1973 wedding of Elizabeth’s daughter, Princess Anne. In 1976, Elizabeth opened the Montreal Olympics, and, in 1977, she celebrated her Silver Jubilee with festivities marking her 25-year reign. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first woman prime minister—a milestone which seems perfectly suited for a season finale.
From 1971 to 1976, Charles served in the Royal Navy and took his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten’s well-documented advice to “sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down.” In 1975, Charles gave an interview stating, “I’ve fallen in love with all sorts of girls, and I fully intend to go on doing so.”
He met his future wife Camilla in 1971 at a polo match in Windsor, where she reminded the prince of the affair between her ancestor, Alice Keppel, and his, King Edward VII. “My great-grandmother and your great-great-grandfather were lovers,” she joked. “So how about it?” In 1973, while Charles was in the navy, Camilla accepted a marriage proposal from Andrew Parker Bowles.
When media outlets spoke to Peter Morgan this summer, the series creator said that he still hadn’t sorted out the Princess Diana storyline.
“The Diana stuff . . . I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with her if I ever get that far,” Morgan admitted. “I’ve mapped out what might be a third season. If she were to be introduced, it’d probably have to wait until the fourth.”
It is worth noting, however, that Charles first met Diana in 1977 when he visited her family’s home for a pheasant shoot. Diana was just 16, and Charles was dating her older sister Lady Sarah at the time—so maybe there is the possibility of a cameo.