Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith and Claire Foy will be back for their final run out as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip – they will be replaced in season three as the show moves forward in time to tell the story of the Queen’s later reign.
Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret), Victoria Hamilton (the Queen Mother) and Jeremy Northam (Anthony Eden) are also expected to return.
Michael C Hall as US president John F Kennedy
Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret
New arrivals include period piece veteran Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey, Brideshead Revisited) as Lord Snowdon, and Dexter’s Michael C Hall, who will play John F Kennedy. Jodi Balfour (Quarry) is also signed on to play Jackie Onassis.
Matthew Goode in Downton Abbey
Sadly, it seems unlikely that John Lithgow’s Winston Churchill will be back, following his resignation at the end of season one. He has not been on set this year.
John Lithgow as Winston Churchill
Gone too is King George VI actor Jared Harris, who has confirmed to RadioTimes.com that he will not be returning to the show, not even in right royal flashbacks.
What is going to happen?
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Foy teased that series 2 will “pretty much pick up where we left off”, and span seven to eight years, taking us up to around 1964.
The new series will examine British political controversies through the eyes of the Queen, including the Suez Crisis in 1956, which cost Prime Minister Anthony Eden his job. Season two will also explore the Queen’s relationship with his successor Harold MacMillan.
Showrunner Peter Morgan has confirmed that the focus will be shifting slightly away from the Queen this time round, as other royals take centre stage. This series will hone in on Prince Philip, delving into his past, his continuing relationship with his wife (and monarch), and his son.
“We start to focus on Charles as a young boy and his education, and on Philip and his back story,” Morgan told People magazine.
In the period covered by season two, Philip embarked on a world tour between 1956 and 1957, including taking the newly commissioned Yacht Britannia to the Antarctic Circle. Photographing the local wildlife, he eventually published a book with shots from his expedition, called Birds from Britannia.
The Queen, and their children, remained at home.
Princess Margaret’s tempestuous love life will continue to play out in both public and private, with her relationship with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones (later to be Lord Snowdon) forming a key part in the story of Elizabeth and her sister.