“In days like today you ask yourself, in the time I’ve been on the throne what have I actually achieved?” asks Olivia Colman’s gloomy Queen Elizabeth II as she kicks off a downbeat trailer for The Crown season three. “This country was still great when I came to the throne. All that’s happened on my watch is the place has fallen apart.”
“You cannot flinch,” responds her little sister, Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter). “It’s only fallen apart if we say it has. That’s the thing about the monarchy. We paper over the cracks.”
But it seems cracks are appearing and widening in the royal family itself, as Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) clashes with his mum, Margaret’s marriage breaks down and sibling rivalry rears its head. And the country is “bankrupt”, and “national security is in tatters”, and the miners are striking for better wages.
So what else can we tell from the first full trailer for the freshly-recast Netflix series?
Here’s the breakdown…
Season three will cover 13 years (or more)
The new season of The Crown will take us through the Queen’s reign at a rapid pace.
In the trailer, we see Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) become Prime Minister in 1964, while Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) frets over whether a Labour leader might abolish the monarchy entirely. We also see the Queen celebrating/enduring her Silver Jubilee, which means that the show will cover all the years up to 1977.
That means this season will span at least 13 years of the Queen’s life – more than any of the previous two seasons, which took us from 1947 to 1955 (season one) and 1956 to 1964 (season two). Time is speeding up!
We’ll be seeing a lot of Prince Charles (and he’s not happy)
“Am I listened to in this family? Am I seen for who and what I am? No,” says Prince Charles, played now by The Durrells star Josh O’Connor. But the Queen looks on, stony-faced.
Judging by how much Charles there is in the trailer, it looks like season three will put the spotlight on the heir to the throne. He’s 16 years old in 1964, but over the course of the season he’ll grow up, hit adulthood, be invested as the Prince of Wales at the age of 21, serve in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and have his heart truly and thoroughly broken.
Speaking of which…
Here’s a first look at Camilla:
Our first introduction to Camilla Shand (later Camilla Parker Bowles) is this shot of her lying in the bath, surrounded by candles, and enjoying a cigarette. Intimate!
Emerald Fennell stars as Prince Charles’ love interest in The Crown, and it looks like season three will take us deep inside their (ill-fated) early relationship.
“If I may offer two pieces of advice. Never turn your back on true love. Watch out for your family,” warns Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor (played by Geraldine Chaplin).
“They mean well,” says Charles.
“No they don’t,” Simpson replies.
These ominous words are a hint of things to come, and Charles’ parents might not be too keen on Camilla joining the family.
Helena Bonham Carter might steal the show as Princess Margaret
The Queen’s younger sister Princess Margaret gets a lot of screen time in the trailer for season three, including a scene where she’s hanging out in the bath wearing full make-up and a crown. (Side note: how much time do the royal family and their friends spend in the bath??)
This is a tumultuous time in the life of Princess Margaret, and the drama will explore her marriage to Tony Armstrong-Jones (Ben Miles) which has some ups and a LOT of downs. The Crown creator Peter Morgan doesn’t seem to have shied away from their ugly marriage breakdown, with a brief glimpse of Tony (aka Lord Snowdon) pinning Margaret against the wall with his hand around her neck.
An earlier scene shows them in happier times, teasing each other on an airplane.
“Elder sister, younger sister,” says Tony. “Number one and number two.”
“Who’s number one?”
“You. She knows it too.”
“Yes, I think she does.”
The previous two seasons have explored the relationship between Elizabeth and Margaret, then played by Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby. But it looks like season three will be taking us deeper into their love and rivalry.
The Queen is miserable
The Queen doesn’t seem to be having all that much fun being the Queen.
“We have all made sacrifices and suppressed who we are,” she says in the closing moments of the trailer, perhaps in a lecture to her son Charles. “It is not a choice. It is a duty.”
Meanwhile, everyone else around her seems to resent her. “Frustrations and resentments can build up from a life as a support act,” warns another voice, which may refer to Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) but might also refer to heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and younger sister Princess Margaret.
And another thing…
Where’s Prince Philip?
We don’t see much of Prince Philip in the trailer. Does he have a lesser role in season three? Or did Netflix simply want to highlight some of the other characters and their stories?
There’s a funeral – Winston Churchill’s?
A handful of shots in the trailer reveal a state funeral, with a coffin draped in the Union Jack.
This is most likely the funeral of wartime and postwar Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who died in 1965. We did wonder if it could be the 1972 funeral of the Duke of Windsor, but he had a private funeral – so Churchill looks far more likely.
The Crown season 3 will arrive on Netflix on Sunday 17th November