Season three of The Crown is finally here. Jumping ahead in time, the Netflix series continues to chronicle the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the inside story of life as a royal. Additionally, as the series plans to do every two seasons, the entire cast was replaced with a new ensemble of age-appropriate stars with Olivia Colman taking the reins as head of the monarchy from Claire Foy. From the cast to the timeline, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about the latest installment of creator Peter Morgan’s Emmy-winning scripted series.
Release Date and Trailer
While most Netflix series debut on Fridays, season three of The Crown will premiere on Sunday, Nov. 17. Like the prior two installments, the season will include 10 episodes, all of which will be available the same day.
Watch the full-length trailer for season three below:
As previously reported, seasons three and four see a new cast of actors taking over the roles originated in the first two seasons by Foy, Matt Smith and others. The only major actor to reprise their role is John Lithgow, who won an Emmy for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in season one.
Taking over as Queen Elizabeth II is Colman, the Oscar-winning actress for The Favourite, who Morgan says is “an actress with such versatility and intelligence and, a bit like the queen, she doesn’t overthink it. She just turns up and does it.”
Filling out the royal family is Tobias Menzies as her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Helena Bonham Carter as her younger sister, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. Elizabeth’s kids, Princess Anne and Prince Charles, are played by Erin Doherty and Josh O’Connor, respectively. Other key family members include Ben Daniels as Margaret’s husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, Marion Bailey as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Charles Dance as Prince Philip’s uncle, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Derek Jacobi as the Duke of Windsor and Geraldine Chaplin as his wife, the Duchess of Windsor.
When it comes to the new cast taking over the major roles, Morgan was “worried that it would feel like a different show,” he says, adding: “It was critical that the fans felt like it was a seamless transition. The new cast didn’t bother me because they are all so bloody good and I knew they could do it.”
Other major characters outside of the royal family include Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Emerald Fennell as Camilla Shand with notable appearances by Samuel West as Sir Anthony Blunt, Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, Clancy Brown as Lyndon B. Johnson, Andrew Buchan as Andrew Parker Bowles, John Hollingworth as Lord Porchester (aka Porchey, who later lived at Highclere Castle, the real-life stand-in for Downton Abbey), and Harry Treadaway as Roddy Llewellyn.
Timeline and Key Events
According to Netflix, the third season of The Crown sees a new guard sweep into Downing Street, as Queen Elizabeth and her family struggle to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing Britain. They must adapt to a new, more liberated, but also more turbulent world.
More specifically, the new installment spans 12 years, kicking off with the election of Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1964 and ending in 1977 with Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. Other events depicted include the Aberfan disaster, the Apollo 11 moon landing, the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales and his budding romance with Camilla Shand, an attempted coup against Wilson, the discovery of a Soviet spy in Buckingham Palace, the death of Winston Churchill, Princess Margaret’s affair with Roddy Llewellyn, and the backstory of the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece and Denmark.
“You have to take those colossal events and give them a fresh perspective, but you also have to find the surprising stories that no one knows about,” Morgan says of putting the season together, such as including “the Lunar Landing because it intersected with the Duke of Edinburgh, who I know is a pilot. He would have been obsessed with what was going on, as we all were. I found a really interesting way of combining that with the astronauts who came to Buckingham Palace within a few days of landing back on Earth.”
When it comes to striking a balance between the historic and public events with the family’s private moments, Morgan says “this show is a family saga first and foremost. The image I have for myself is that we are with this one particular family in one particular train carriage, looking out as we’re riding through the second half of the 20th century and the people inside are also just trying to resolve their family conflicts.”
So is it any good? Based on the episodes ET was allowed to preview ahead of the debut, season three is just as strong, if not better than the previous two seasons, with Colman making the most of her role as the queen while rising stars O’Connor and Doherty will certainly enjoy breakout success as Charles and Anne, respectively.
The season currently holds a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews. “What saves the show -- and, indeed, what always saves The Crown, year after year -- is the astounding performances and production values,” writes IndieWire, with The Guardian proclaiming, “The amount of cake The Crown successfully has and eats deserves an award all of its own.”
And for those worried about the jarring effect of seeing a whole new cast replacing actors they’ve grown accustomed to, if not fond of, portraying the royals, Radio Times writes that “the opening episodes do a smart job of introducing (or reintroducing) each character.” In fact, the show does that quite cleverly in the new season’s opening scene seen here: