Warning: Contains spoilers for season three of The Crown.
The Crown’s much-anticipated third season finally dropped on Netflix this weekend, and it’s more than living up to expectations. However, the British period drama can be quite a time commitment, so if you need a guide to the season’s most explosive moments, we understand.
Below, here are the moments from The Crown’s third season that made us laugh, tear up, and text the royals-obsessed group chat “WTF?”
1. The revelation that the queen’s art adviser was a Soviet spy
In a ripped-from-the-headlines story line typical of The Crown, the first episode of season three includes the queen receiving the news that her art adviser, Anthony Blunt, was a Soviet spy recruited in college as one of the Cambridge Five. This is a true story, although it didn’t become public information until Margaret Thatcher exposed Blunt in the House of Commons in November 1979.
2. Princess Margaret trading dirty limericks with President Lyndon B. Johnson
Helena Bonham Carter is a bright spot in this stellar season, playing an adult incarnation of Princess Margaret. The season’s second episode sees her traveling to America and attending an official dinner (which really happened IRL) with President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird. On the show Margaret engages in a round of dirty-limerick reciting with the U.S. president, which may not have happened in real life but certainly makes a good story.
3. The queen botching her response to the Aberfan disaster
Royals are supposed to be beyond reproach, but even Queen Elizabeth made mistakes sometimes, as evidenced in the episode “Aberfan.” The episode chronicles the real-life mining disaster that devastated the Welsh community of Aberfan and reflects her failure to visit the site until eight days later. In 2002 it was reported that the queen had once told her former private secretary that not visiting Aberfan immediately after the disaster was “her biggest regret,” and her shame and sorrow are well-reflected on The Crown.
4. All the royal nicknames
The royal family’s nicknames for each other are a real thing, and that’s reflected on this season of The Crown, with Queen Elizabeth telling a staffer of her Philip-bestowed nicknames: “I’m darling or cabbage. Sweetie is someone else.”
5. Princess Alice’s troubled past
In real life Prince Philip’s mother, Alice, had a lot of difficulties to overcome; she was born deaf in 1885, diagnosed with schizophrenia after her marriage to Prince Andrew, and was treated by Sigmund Freud himself. The Crown’s third season finds her confessing the lurid details of her past to a journalist against her family’s wishes, but the divulgence leads to a closer relationship with Philip.
6. Queen Elizabeth’s horse-girl dreams
Episode five of The Crown’s third season finds Elizabeth pursuing her interest in horses and dreaming about the life she could have had as a racehorse manager. The queen’s real-life love of horses has been well documented, but it’s wild to imagine an alternate reality in which she’s a full-time equine aficionado.
7. The plot to overthrow Harold Wilson as Prime Minister
Lord Mountbatten is swayed to orchestrate a coup against U.K. Prime Minister Harold Wilson in this season, aspects of which are drawn from real life; International Publishing Corporation chairman Cecil King did try to involve Mountbatten in a coup, laying out his plan for the dismantling of Wilson’s administration, but Mountbatten did not express interest in the idea.
8. Prince Charles standing up to his mother
This season a college-aged Charles is yanked out of Cambridge and sent to study Welsh at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth prior to his investiture. This provides an impetus for him to take on Queen Elizabeth about what he perceives as his lesser role in the royal family, asking her, “Am I listened to this family? Am I seen for who or what I am? No.”
9. Prince Philip’s space-race-induced midlife crisis
The season’s seventh episode shows that even the royal family was not immune from excitement about the first men landing on the moon in 1969, but the event strikes a somber chord with Prince Philip, whom Tobias Menzies expertly portrays as a dissatisfied man longing for more than the life he’s been born into.
10. The beginning of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles’s relationship
Before Prince Charles courted and married Diana, there was another woman in his past: Camilla Parker Bowles, née Shand, who is currently his partner in real life. Season three of The Crown paints a portrait of Charles and Camilla as young lovers torn apart by timing, as well as the meddling of his family. “To the extent that the royal family was aware of Charles and Camilla, nobody took it seriously,” Prince Charles biographer Sally Bedell Smith told Vogue, but perhaps they should have paid closer attention.
11. Princess Margaret’s divorce
Divorce was simply not done in the royal family until Princess Margaret split up with her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon, amid rumors of extramarital affairs on both sides. As Anne de Courcey put it in her biography of Snowdon: “The trouble was that both were stars, accustomed to being the focus of attention, and a certain competitiveness was almost inevitable.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue