The Crown‘s casting directors have been hard at work, because for season three we have an (almost) entirely new collection of actors.
In place of Claire Foy is Olivia Colman as the Queen; in place of Matt Smith comes Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, while Helena Bonham Carter is our new Princess Margaret.
And, of course, the Netflix drama brings in plenty of new characters we’ve never met before, from Welsh miners to Prime Ministers to wealthy socialites.
Here is everyone you need to meet – and where you’ve seen them before:
Olivia Colman plays Queen Elizabeth II
Who is Queen Elizabeth II? Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. She came to the throne in 1952 and has been there ever since. In the first two seasons of The Crown she was played by Claire Foy.
What else has Olivia Colman been in? Olivia Colman is already acting royalty. She recently won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite (2018), adding it to her collection of awards including four BAFTAs and two Golden Globes. Colman has previously starred as Carol Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Godmother in Fleabag, Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables, DS Ellie Miller in Broadchurch, Angela Burr in The Night Manager, and Sophie Chapman in Peep Show. We could go on but let’s leave it there.
Tobias Menzies plays Prince Philip
Who is Prince Philip? Also known by the title Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. In seasons one and two he was played by Matt Smith.
What else has Tobias Menzies been in? The actor is perhaps best known for playing Frank and Jack Randall in Outlander. He has also played Edmure Tully in Game of Thrones, Dr Harries in Catastrophe, Villiers in James Bond movie Casino Royale, and James Fitzjames in The Terror. Like his The Crown co-star Olivia Colman, he starred in The Night Manager – playing Geoffrey Dromgoole.
Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles
Who is Prince Charles? Charles, Prince of Wales, is Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son and the heir to the British throne. He was educated at Gordonstoun (as we saw in The Crown season 2) and Cambridge, then served in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976. During that time, his ex-girlfriend Camilla Shand married, and finally in 1981 Charles (now 32 years old) found a wife too – young Lady Diana Spencer, with whom he had sons William and Harry. The marriage was rocky and both had extramarital affairs: they divorced in 1996 and Diana was killed in a car crash the following year. Charles has since married his long-term partner Camilla.
What else has Josh O’Connor been in? Rising star Josh O’Connor starred alongside Keeley Hawes in The Durrells, playing her character’s eldest son Lawrence. He won a British Independent Film Award for his portrayal of Johnny Saxby in 2017 movie God’s Own Country, and starred as Marius Pontmercy in Les Misérables. Other credits include Ripper Street, Peaky Blinders, and Florence Foster Jenkins.
Emerald Fennell plays Camilla Shand
Who is Camilla Shand? You might know her better by her married name – Camilla Parker Bowles – or by her current title, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall. After a relationship with the young Prince Charles, Camilla instead married her on-off boyfriend Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. They divorced in 1995, and two years later Prince Charles’s wife Diana died. With Charles now divorced and widowed and Camilla a divorcée, they were able to enter a civil marriage in 2005.
What else has Emerald Fennell been in? Call the Midwife fans will know Emerald Fennell as Nurse Patsy Mount. Since leaving that show, she has served as showrunner for Killing Eve season two, taking over the reins from Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Fennell also made an appearance in the TV series Victoria as Ada Lovelace.
Real-life history behind The Crown season 3
If you’re curious about the stories and events that inspired Netflix’s The Crown, we’ve got all the big questions covered with these in-depth features…
- Was Queen’s art adviser Anthony Blunt really a Soviet Spy?
- Did the Queen visit Winston Churchill before his death?
- Did people really think Prime Minister Harold Wilson was a Soviet agent?
- Did Princess Margaret charm (and kiss) Lyndon B Johnson?
- Inside Margaret’s affair with Roddy Llewellyn and the collapse of her marriage
- “I had nightmares for years”: The real-life story behind The Crown’s Aberfan episode, as told by the survivors
- The story of Philip’s mother – and her extraordinary life
- The real story behind the 1969 Royal Family documentary
Helena Bonham Carter plays Princess Margaret
Who was Princess Margaret? Queen Elizabeth’s little sister, previously played in The Crown by Vanessa Kirby. After her plans to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend were scuppered, Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960 and had two kids. It was not a happy relationship, and ended in divorce in 1978; she never remarried, but was romantically linked with various men. Her health declined from the 1980s and she died in 2002, just weeks before her mother also passed away.
What else has Helena Bonham Carter been in? Well, a LOT of movies. She was Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films, and is also known for Alice in Wonderland, Howards End, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The King’s Speech, Enid, The Wings of the Dove, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd, Fight Club… the list goes on.
Ben Daniels plays Tony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon)
Who was Tony Armstrong-Jones? Previously played by Matthew Goode in seasons one and two, Antony Armstrong-Jones (also known as Lord Snowdon) was a British photographer and filmmaker who married Princess Margaret. Their 16-year marriage was troubled by bitter rows and affairs, and they separated in 1976 – with a divorce granted two years later. Armstrong-Jones went on to marry (again) and divorce (again), and died in 2017 aged 86.
What else has Ben Daniels been in? The Olivier-winning and Tony-nominated stage actor also has quite a few screen credits to his name, including The Exorcist, Rogue One (as General Merrick), House of Cards (as Adam Galloway), The Paradise, and Flesh and Bone.
Erin Doherty plays Princess Anne
Who is Princess Anne? The second child (and only daughter) of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband. As a horse-riding enthusiast and equestrian, she is the first member of the British Royal Family to compete in the Olympics, and she was actually voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1971. Anne married Captain Mark Phillips in 1973, had two kids (Peter and Zara) and divorced in 1992 to marry her mother’s former equerry, Sir Timothy Laurence.
What else has Erin Doherty been in? This acting newcomer played Fabienne in the TV adaptation of Les Misérables (alongside her The Crown co-star Josh O’Connor) and also made a guest appearance in an episode of Call the Midwife.
Jason Watkins plays Harold Wilson
Who is Harold Wilson? Labour politician Harold Wilson stepped into Hugh Gaitskell’s shoes after the Labour leader’s sudden death in 1963, and the following year he won the general election. Wilson was Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970, when he lost out to Tory leader Ted Heath; he remained as Leader of the Opposition, and in 1974 he returned for a second stint as Prime Minister. However, in 1976 he suddenly stepped down for good, with Labour MP James Callaghan taking over as Prime Minister.
What else has Jason Watkins been in? Prolific actor Jason Watkins has recently starred in Hold the Sunset (as Roger), Trollied (as Gavin), A Very English Scandal (as Emlyn Hooson), and W1A (as Simon Harwood). He is also known for starring in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, and for playing Tim Ifield in Line of Duty.
Marion Bailey plays the Queen Mother
Who was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother? The wife of King George VI (Jared Harris’s character), and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. While her husband had died aged 51, Elizabeth lived to 101 and was viewed as the matriarch of the royal family.
What else has Marion Bailey been in? The actress starred alongside Timothy Spall in Mr Turner, playing Sophia Booth. Her film credits include All or Nothing, Vera Drake, Allied, and Meantime, while TV shows include Temple and Britannia.
Jane Lapotaire plays Philip’s mother
Who was Princess Alice of Greece? Prince Philip’s mother (1885-1969) was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who was born at Windsor Castle. She was born deaf, but learned to lip-read and speak many languages; after marrying into the Greek royal family she had four daughters and a son (Philip). In 1930 she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to an institution, and after her recovery she devoted herself to charity work in Greece – including sheltering Jewish refugees in Athens during the Second World War. After this she founded an Orthodox nursing order of nuns, but when things became too dangerous in Greece in 1967 she moved to England and Buckingham Palace.
What else has Jane Lapotaire been in? Tony-winning actress Jane Lapotaire is better-known for her stage career. On the screen, she starred as Marie Curie in a 1977 TV drama, and appeared as Princess Irina in Downton Abbey.
John Lithgow plays Winston Churchill
Who was Winston Churchill? Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, leading the country to victory in the Second World War. He also served as PM from 1951 to 1955, but suffered a series of strokes and increasingly poor health. He died in London in 1965 at the age of 90 and was honoured with an absolutely massive state funeral.
What else has John Lithgow been in? The American actor starred as Dick Solomon in sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, and as Arthur Mitchell in Dexter. Other recent credits include Pet Sematary, Pitch Perfect 3, and Trial & Error. He has six Emmys, two Tonys, two Golden Globes, two Oscar nominations and four Grammys to his name – meaning he’s very close to joining the EGOT club.
Samuel West plays Anthony Blunt
Who was Sir Anthony Blunt? A leading British art historian and Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures. In 1964, he was discovered to have been a Soviet agent and part of the Cambridge Spy Ring who had passed information to the Russians during the war; but he secured immunity from prosecution and his secret was kept quiet. The truth was only publicly revealed in 1979, to huge outcry. He died in 1983.
What else has Samuel West been in? The actor recently starred as Geoffrey Ponting in On Chesil Beach, and Sir Anthony Eden in Darkest Hour. On TV, you may have seen him in The Frankenstein Chronicles, Mr Selfridge, or Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
Clancy Brown plays Lyndon B Johnson
Who was Lyndon B Johnson? President of the United States from 1963 to 1969. As Vice President, he assumed the presidency after the assassination of John F Kennedy – but followed this up by winning the election in his own right two years later. LBJ was a Democrat who wanted to make his own mark as a leader; he pushed forward civil rights and healthcare, and escalated America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
After Lyndon B Johnson came Republican President Richard Nixon, followed by Gerald Ford, though neither appear in season 3 of The Crown. LBJ himself died unexpectedly in 1973.
What else has Clancy Brown been in? The American actor has appeared in movies including The Shawshank Redemption, Thor: Ragnarok, Highlander, and Starship Troopers. He is a prolific voice actor, and SpongeBob SquarePants fans might recognise his voice as that of Mr Krabs. In fact, Clancy Brown’s CV is outrageously long, with more than 280 screen credits to his name so far.
Charles Dance plays Lord Mountbatten
Who was Lord Mountbatten? A Royal Navy officer and statesman, who was Prince Philip’s uncle and was also distantly related to Queen Elizabeth II. He was a Commander in the Second World War, and became the last Viceroy of India in 1947 (and the first Governor-General of India after independence). After returning to the UK he continued his military career – becoming First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet, then Chief of the Defence Staff. He was killed in an IRA bombing in 1979.
What else has Charles Dance been in? With an acting career dating back to the early 1970s, Charles Dance has been in a LOT of movies and TV shows. He starred as Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones, and is also known for roles in The Jewel in the Crown, The Golden Child, Alien 3, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and The Imitation Game. Recently, he’s played Frederick Fairlie in The Woman in White, Commander Picton in The Little Drummer Girl, and Martin Benson in The Widow.
John Hollingworth plays Porchey
Who is Porchey? Lord Porchester (nicknamed Porchey) was a horse enthusiast who became racing manager to Queen Elizabeth II from 1969, though their friendship went back many years. He later became the Earl of Carnarvon, with a family estate at Highclere Castle – now the filming location for Downton Abbey.
What else has John Hollingworth been in? He stars as Professor Sam Bradman in Doc Martin, and played Captain Henshawe in Poldark as well as Mr Abbott in Gentleman Jack. John Hollingworth has also appeared in The Hour, Da Vinci’s Demons, and Dark Angel.
Derek Jacobi plays the Duke of Windsor
Who was the Duke of Windsor? The Queen’s uncle, and the former King Edward VIII – a role he held for less than a year until he abdicated in 1936 to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. The question of whether they were Nazi sympathisers was explored in season two of The Crown (when the Duke was played by Alex Jennings). In 1972, the Duke of Windsor died in Paris of throat cancer.
What else has Derek Jacobi been in? His acting career spans six decades and includes a huge amount of theatre. Aside from his Tony Award and his Olivier Awards for his stage performances, Derek Jacobi has also been a prolific film and TV actor. His roles have included Gracchus in Gladiator, Alan in Last Tango in Halifax, a version of The Master in Doctor Who, and the Metatron in Good Omens.
Geraldine Chaplin plays Wallis Simpson
Who was Wallis Simpson? King Edward VIII abdicated his throne in 1936 in order to marry Wallis Simpson, a American socialite and divorcée. The couple were made the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and lived a life of leisure in the Bahamas and Europe and the United States. Wallis died in 1986 at the age of 89.
What else has Geraldine Chaplin been in? Geraldine Chaplin grew up in a family of actors: her father was Charlie Chaplin and her mother was Oona O’Neill. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for playing Tonya in Doctor Zhivago (1965) and played her own grandmother Hannah Chaplin in the 1992 biopic Chaplin. The actress is also known for her Spanish cinema work, but her recent English-language work has included Electric Dreams (as Irma) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (as Iris).