Everything We Know About 'The Crown' Season 3

the crown season 3
Olivia Colman will reign over 'The Crown' Season 3 | Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix
Olivia Colman will reign over 'The Crown' Season 3 | Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix

The following post contains mild spoilers from The Crown, but also not really. It's freaking HISTORY, you guys.

Two seasons in, Netflix's hit historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown, is still fascinating viewers. The (very expensive!) show, from royal aficionado Peter Morgan (The Queen), is well on its way toward Season 3, but for a show that's purportedly the opposite of fictitious, a surprising amount of questions about what's going to happen next, and how, linger.

There have been rumblings of new royals (the potential introductions of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall), for instance, as well as new time periods (the '60s? the '70s?). Shouldn't it be, uh, obvious what's going to happen? Yes and no. Read on for everything we know so far about the future of The Crown, a guide we'll update as more info is released.

the crown season 3
Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies in 'The Crown' Season 3 | Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix

When is The Crown Season 3 coming out?

Netflix announced that The Crown Season 3 will finally arrive on November 17, almost two years after Season 2 was released in December 2017. While the wait for Season 3 may have been agonizing for fans, know that a fourth season is already in the pipeline, too, and you can expect that, hopefully, sooner than 2021. At a BAFTA masterclass in February 2018, Variety reported series creator Peter Morgan confirmed at least up to a Season 4, which is supposedly set to go into production and run basically back-to-back with the upcoming installment. 

How many episodes will there be in The Crown Season 3? 

It looks like there will be 10 episodes in Season 3, which makes sense, given that was the episode count for Seasons 1 and 2.

What's going to happen in The Crown Season 3?

Picking up not long after Season 2, the next chapter of The Crown will cover Elizabeth's life during "the Wilson era," i.e., the two terms of Prime Minister Harold Wilson (1964-1970; 1974-1976). The monarch was in her 40s during the time period, which notably saw Britain lean toward decolonization, endure a string of economic crises, and, after multiple attempts, enter the European Community. Season 3 will also pave the way for Margaret Thatcher; Diana, Princess of Wales; and the end of Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon's marriage. "This season," the show's history consultant, Robert Lacey, teased for Town & Country, "you see how [the royal break-up] starts, and what a strange character, a brilliant character Snowdon was."

Aside from the politics, Deadline noted that the season will also feature pop culture events of the time such as the British Invasion and the rise of the Beatles, as well as England's triumph at the 1966 World Cup. 

the crown season 3
Helena Bonham Carter in 'The Crown' Season 3 | Des Willie/Netflix

Season 3 will have an entirely different cast

Given its new time period -- plus the fact the characters are now fast-outpacing the actors playing them, age-wise -- The Crown has been on the hunt for new faces. "After two seasons, that's it," Foy told Vulture at the end of 2016. "I'm gone. They're getting rid of all of us." The cast overhaul might partially explain the longer delay between seasons, considering, as one executive producer has put it, the creative team is committed to replacing every actor for every character. Explaining his reasoning to Variety, Morgan noted that simply using makeup and prosthetics to age the cast an extra decade would make them "look ridiculous." Also: "You can't ask someone to act middle-aged," he said. "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."

Olivia Colman is your new queen

"The amazing thing about the show is the fact that it will go on and that it hasn't ended badly," Foy has said of her imminent, bittersweet departure. "It'll go on and have another life." In October 2017, Netflix announced that Olivia Colman -- the Golden Globe- and BAFTA-winning actress known for her tremendous turns in Broadchurch, The Night Manager, and the underrated comedy Flowers -- would take the throne for Seasons 3 and 4. A veteran of the stage and screen, Colman has said her performance will be inspired by Foy's, but the former has proven, especially of late, to be a chameleonic talent with a sense of poise and range that's staggering in her own right. "I think we all felt Olivia had something that corresponded [to what we wanted], that ability to be both plain and dazzling, and to be both knowable and unknowable," Morgan said of Colman, who reportedly accepted the role without hesitation. "We rang her up, and she said yes on the phone." (If you're betting Helen Mirren for the final seasons, you're not alone.)

Tobias Menzies the crown
Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip in 'The Crown' | Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix

Tobias Menzies will play Prince Philip

Many were rumored to be in the running as the Prince Consort, including Paul Bettany and Hugh Laurie, but the role ultimately went to Menzies, whom you might know from Game of ThronesCatastrophe, Outlander, or, most recently, The Terror. (He's already worked alongside Colman, on The Night Manager.) Menzies takes over from Matt Smith, who first shot to fame on the BBC's long-running sci-fi adventure series Doctor Who as the 11th Doctor, another larger-than-life role he'd eventually have to leave behind. "It was hard to give up the Doctor -- you want to play it forever," Smith actor told the UK Times. "Peter [Morgan] is writing Thatcher and Diana for Season 4, and I couldn't play that era's Philip, so I'll just turn into a punter, the way I did with Doctor Who. I'm looking forward to seeing where they take it, to be honest."

Helena Bonham Carter will play Princess Margaret

Many of the original cast members seemed to be at peace with leaving their roles behind, but early on, Vanessa Kirby, who played the queen's only sibling, Princess Margaret, was the most vocal about wanting to stay. "I was so desperate to do further on... because it's going to be so fun when [the Margaret-Snowdon] marriage starts to break down," she told Vanity Fair at the end of 2017. "You see the beginnings of that in [Season 2] Episode 10. I kept saying to [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." That new actress? Variety reported Helena Bonham Carter -- who's earned plaudits as Marla Singer (Fight Club), Bellatrix Lestrange (the Harry Potter franchise), and, oddly enough, Queen Elizabeth (The King's Speech, for which she snagged an Oscar nom) -- is who's taking the job. Fortunately, Kirby seemed happy, confirming the news on Instagram with a pic of the two formidable talents together and a caption that read, simply, "Honoured."

Are there any new "characters" I should know about?

Yes, the big newbie teased for Season 3 is Camilla (née Camilla Rosemary Shand), who goes on to become Prince Charles' second wife and the Duchess of Cornwall. Fittingly, she'll make her debut alongside a more mature Prince Charles and Princess Anne. The first of the trio to join the ensemble cast was Josh O'Connor (Florence Foster Jenkins), who'll be portraying Princes Charles for the next two seasons. O'Connor replaces Julian Baring in the role, and of his casting, he told THR, "I am thrilled to be joining The Firm for the next installment of The Crown … Seasons 3 and 4 will follow some of the most turbulent events in the Prince of Wales' life and our national story, and I'm excited to be bringing to life the man in the midst of it all. I'm very aware it's a formidably talented family to be joining but reliably informed I have the ears for the part and will fit right in."

Opposite O'Connor will be Emerald Fennell of Call the Midwife as Camilla Parker Bowels, and interestingly enough, her former Call the Midwife co-star Erin Doherty will play Princess Anne. On playing Camilla, Fennell said, "I'm absolutely over the moon, and completely terrified, to be joining so many hugely talented people on The Crown … I absolutely love Camilla, and am very grateful that my teenage years have well prepared me for playing a chain-smoking serial snogger with a pudding bowl hair cut."

As for other castings, Marion Bailey is replacing Victoria Hamilton in the portrayal of Queen Mother, and Gillian Anderson is taking on the Iron Lady, the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, for the next two seasons. 

Another interesting, highly anticipated casting announcement came in April 2019 when THR reported newcomer Emma Corrin will play Charles' first wife, Princess Diana of Wales -- a casting that is apparently so spot-on the actress told THR she was offered the part immediately during her audition. Don't get too excited to see her story unfold quite yet, though, because Corrin won't be stepping into the cast officially until Season 4. It was always planned for Princess Di to arrive further into the series, as she reportedly didn't meet Charles until about 1977, which expands beyond the timeline of Season 3. Of her casting, though, Peter Morgan said in a statement to THR, "Emma is a brilliant talent who immediately captivated us when she came in for the part of Diana Spencer. As well as having the innocence and beauty of a young Diana, she also has, in abundance, the range and complexity to portray an extraordinary woman who went from anonymous teenager to becoming the most iconic woman of her generation.”  

the crown season 2
'The Crown' Season 2 | Netflix

The Crown is fixing its pay disparity issues

In March 2018, The Crown found itself embroiled in controversy. At an INTV panel discussion about the series, executive producer Suzanne Mackie let slip that Smith was paid more for his two seasons of work than Foy. The reasoning: Because of Doctor Who, Smith was more internationally renowned and his perceived star power translated to a higher salary. It was a backward (and not totally true, considering Foy's impressive résumé!) reasoning, to be sure, but the fallout from the news led to petitions, awkward apologies, and, ultimately, the beginnings of a fix. "Going forward," Mackie promised, "no one gets paid more than the Queen." As for Foy, many are calling for her to be properly reimbursed for her work as the lead of the series. "I certainly won't be naïve about those things" going forward, she said later at CinemaCon. "It's really opened my eyes about what I am allowed to have an opinion about, and what I’m allowed to stand up for myself about."

Wait, so what's happening to the old cast?

Hypothetically, you don't have to count them out for flashbacks, though, truthfully, that seems unlikely. The old guard should be out of the picture. Also, busy! Foy was in 2018's The Girl in the Spider's Web (the big-screen adaptation of the Millennium series' fourth novel) and First Man (the Neil Armstrong biopic where she appeared opposite Ryan Gosling as Janet Armstrong). Smith was also in Mary Harron's biopic Charlie Says (in which he played the infamous killer Charles Manson), due out later this year. And Kirby will appeared in Gareth Jones and Mission: Impossible -- Fallout, though she wants you to know she pushed very hard for a Margaret spinoff. ("We need to do a spinoff," she told Morgan, according to Vanity Fair. "You actually could do 10 hours on Margaret because she’s so fascinating," she told the mag. "There's so much to her, and she's such an interesting character.") Which, yes! Give it to her!

the crown season 3
Olivia Colman in 'The Crown' Season 3 | Netflix

How many more seasons will there be?

At least two more (Seasons 3 and 4) for sure, but Netflix has plans for something close to six. (Maybe more if needed? Variety reports that the show's production base is good for 10 years.) "This [series] is going to take Queen Elizabeth from age 29 to, presumably, the current day. We'll see it [play out] over decades," Netflix content boss Ted Sarandos said in 2016. "The idea is to do this over six decades, in six seasons presumably, and make the whole show over eight to 10 years." 

Wait, does that mean actress-turned-royal Meghan Markle will play herself?

Haha, no. 

What! Why not?

Multiple reasons. Up to this point, the palace has had no involvement with the show, and that probably won't change anytime soon. ("They don't comment on what we do, there's no co-operation, and as a result, I don't owe them anything," Morgan told the UK Times. "When people ask if [the queen's] watched it, I say I have no idea and I don't want to know. I mean, she's ninetysomething years old and barely knows what the internet is, so I live in hope that she hasn't seen it, never watches it, and doesn't give it the slightest thought.") Though Mackie has joked the Suits alumna could play herself, Markle's busy! She also officially retired -- her last professional appearance as an actress came during the Season 7 finale of Suits -- to focus on royal duties and humanitarian work full-time.

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