Here's a quick recap before all ten episodes of season three premiere on November 17. But keep in mind, Peter Morgan has recast almost every character in the show. (Notably, Olivia Colman will take over from Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth.) So expect to see some new faces in the season ahead.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have seemingly moved past their relationship issues.
The royal couple's season-long tension comes to blows at Balmoral Castle in the finale, as Elizabeth finally confronts Prince Philip about his infidelity without ever saying the word. (By never having his characters address an affair directly, it allowed showrunner Peter Morgan some ambiguity with the historic specifics of the story.)
"There are two types of people in life. Those whom one imagines to be trustworthy and reliable, who turn out to be treacherous and weak... And those who appear to be complex and difficult, who turn out to be more dependable than anyone thought, like me." Philip says, in response to his wife's wordless accusation of an affair.
"I know exactly what my job is. Your father made it perfectly clear: You are my job. You are the essence of my duty."
Then, the Queen essentially gives Philip an out saying that she can “look the other way.” But he responds, “I don’t want you to.”
Colman revealed that in season three, the drama in Elizabeth's marriage to Philip has calmed down a bit. “I think they’ve gone into a much steadier phase in the 1960s. They’re older, more mature,” she said in an interview with Vanity Fair.
But Prince Philip's insecurities in his role as the monarch's husband never disappear entirely. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly from earlier this year, Tobias Menzies, who is taking over the role of the Duke of Edinburgh from Matt Smith, spoke about a future episode featuring something of a midlife crisis for Prince Philip:
"We see an episode where he hits various midlife crisis questions, and Peter [Morgan, writer and showrunner] framed it around the moon landing, which Philip becomes very obsessed with. It raises thoughts in him of “What have I done with my life?” when he sees this sort of apogee of heroism in these men. Part of him kind of goes, “That’s what I could have been, if I hadn’t chosen this path, if I hadn’t married this person, if I hadn’t become who I’ve become,” which was never his intention, to be this kind of functionary. So the questions and the challenges for both of them are coming from outside, a bit more existential, really, rather than marital."
Season two ends with the christening of the Queen's son Prince Edward.
With only a few minutes to go in the season finale, Queen Elizabeth gives birth to her youngest child Prince Edward in Buckingham Palace, as Prince Philips looks on and smiles. Then, after a quick church scene where the baby baptized, the season ends with a portrait session. And as the photographer is trying to capture the whole royal family, he recites some verse from Shakespeare's Richard II, ending with the line: "This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong Jones are married with two children, but it isn't exactly wedded bliss.
Fresh off of the heartbreak of Peter Townsend, Princess Margaret fell hard and fast for photographer Antony Armstrong Jones in The Crown's second season. They married in 1960 at Westminster Abbey, in the first royal wedding to broadcast on television (an event featured in episode seven). And by show's the season finale, they have two children together—Sarah and David—and are living in the newly renovated apartment 1A at Kensington Palace (which is where the Cambridges reside today).
For a time they were considered to be Britain's most glamorous couple, but their relationship wasn't built to last. We already see them bickering in season two's final episodes, and according to the show's historical advisor Robert Lacey, their breakup will begin in season three. (If it's history, is it really a spoiler?)
"In season three, 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," Lacey says.
Harold Macmillan resigned following the Profumo affair.
As much as The Crown is about the royal family, it's also about the British government, and the show's seconded season concludes with the resignation of Harold Macmillan. In October 1963, following a number of scandals including the Profumo affair, in which a member of his cabinet, John Profumo, had an affair which led to a major security breach, Macmillan resigned his post as Prime Minister.
The resulting scene in The Crown is quite dramatic.
"I've been Queen barely ten years. And in that time, I've had three Prime Ministers. All of them ambitious men; clever men; brilliant men. Not one has lasted the course," Claire Foy, as Queen Elizabeth says. "They've either been too old, too ill, or too weak. A confederacy of elected quitters."
The Queen then goes on to appoint her close family friend Alec Douglas-Home as prime minister, an act which doesn't go over so well with her subjects.
In the show, protestors are seen outside the palace gates, carrying signs which read:"Our head of state should embody our values" and "Scrap the monarchy." But given that the season ends in 1964, and so did Douglas-Home's brief administration, he likely won't play a large role in the story; rather, Morgan says season three focuses on the Wilson era, named after the Queen's first Labor Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.
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