By Kate Samuelson
November 17, 2017

Season two of Netflix’s Golden Globe-winning big budget royal series The Crown will hit the small screen globally on Friday December 8. Here’s what you need to know about the highly anticipated second season, starring Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Philip.

The Crown season two trailer

Season two of The Crown finds Queen Elizabeth struggling to keep the British monarchy together in the turbulent 1960s. “I’ve been Queen barely 10 years. And in that time, I’ve had three Prime Ministers. Not one has lasted the course,” she says in the trailer, released earlier this month.

The trailer, which has already received nearly one million YouTube views, shows the Queen being warned about her husband, Prince Philip, and his apparent wandering eye: “You married a wild spirt. Trying to tame them is no use,” she is told. Another scene shows Elizabeth II scolding her husband for his “restlessness.” “It has to be a thing from the past,” she adds. “The monarchy is too fragile. You keep telling me yourself. One more scandal, one more national embarrassment and it will all be over.”

Meanwhile, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret (played by Vanessa Kirby), finds a new love interest in the young bohemian photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, also known as Lord Snowdon. “She goes head first into a completely new, exciting, dangerous, volatile, dysfunctional relationship,” Kirby told Vanity Fair when discussing her character last year.

Netflix has revealed that the season kicks off with soldiers in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces fighting an illegal war in Egypt and ends with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s downfall after a devastating scandal.

Cast and characters of The Crown

Main characters Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, Victoria Hamilton (who plays the Queen Mother) and Jeremy Northam (Antony Eden) are all reprising their roles for season two. However, John Lithgow, who stole the show as Winston Churchill in season one, does not look likely to be returning.

There are some new faces joining the cast. Downton Abbey and The Imitation Game actor Matthew Goode is playing Lord Snowdon, who died in January last year. Game of Thrones‘ Anton Lesser will appear as Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Harlots‘ Danny Sapani is also making an appearance (although details about his character are few and far between).

Dexter star Michael C. Hall and South African actress Jodi Balfour are joining the cast as Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Balfour has shared a couple of shots from the new season on Instagram:

What history tells us

The new season of The Crown begins at a similar point in history to where season one left off, with the disintegration of Princess Margaret’s engagement to Peter Townsend in 1955, and covers the near-decade period between 1956 and 1964.

During this period, Britain experienced a quick turnover of Prime Ministers: Anthony Eden, who resigned in 1957 after just two years due to his handling of the Suez Crisis, the much-criticized Harold Macmillan, who ruled from 1957 to 1963, and Alec Douglas-Home who was in power for just one year before he was defeated in a general election in 1964. The Queen also gave birth to princes Andrew (born in 1960) and Edward (born in 1964), so we can expect to see their births.

Also during the period covered by The Crown season two, the Beatles released their first single, Russian pilot Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel beyond the earth’s atmosphere and President Kennedy was assassinated.

The Crown seasons three and four

Season two is Foy’s last as Queen Elizabeth, as actress Olivia Coleman, known for Murder on the Orient Express, The Night Manager and the cult British TV comedy series Peep Show, will be taking over the role for the next two seasons, which follow the Queen through her late 40s to early 60s. Social media users seemed pretty happy with the news:

“I’m so thrilled to be part of The Crown. I was utterly gripped watching it,” Coleman told the BBC shortly after her new role was announced. “I think Claire Foy is an absolute genius – she’s an incredibly hard act to follow. I’m basically going to re-watch every episode and copy her.”

Foy was equally kind about her replacement. “I just love her, I admire her so much and the idea that we sort of will be doing the same job but not actually working together is just enough – I’m honoured by that,” she said.

Replacements for Matt Smith and other significant cast members are yet to be announced. The Crown writer Peter Morgan is planning to tell Queen Elizabeth’s story over six seasons and the third, starring Coleman, is expected to premiere in 2019.

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