Though The Crown’s third season won’t premiere on Netflix until 2019, we’re already starting to piece together a picture of what to expect from Olivia Colman’s on-screen reign. Details of plot and cast are finally coming together: shortly after Colman was confirmed for the role of Queen Elizabeth, an official announcement revealed that, in a casting master-stroke, Helena Bonham Carter would be our next Princess Margaret. Since then, the role of Prince Philip has been passed on to Tobias Menzies, and that of Margaret's husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, to Ben Daniels. We're still waiting, however, to learn concrete details of the show's younger generation. At this stage, we know that season three will introduce a twenty-something Prince Charles (rumoured to be played by this year's BAFTA Rising Star nominee Josh O'Connor) and Camilla Parker-Bowles as major players, as the drama's focus expands to encompass a new generation of royals.
The apocryphal story of Camilla’s first encounter with the Prince of Wales has the pair meeting at a polo match in 1971, with the future Duchess of Cornwall reminding Charles that their ancestors had history: Alice Keppel, her great-grandmother, was a famous mistress of King Edward VI. Whether or not you believe this to be Camilla’s exact opening line, she and the Prince soon struck up a relationship, despite her not being considered the ‘right’ sort of woman by Palace elders, one which would persist, on and off, through their respective marriages (to Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, and Diana in 1981.)
It’s not hard to see why playing the People’s Princess might be an appealing proposition for any young actress, but the role of Camilla is a trickier one. The Charles-Camilla-Diana dynamic, after all, will cast a shadow over at least two future seasons of The Crown: for this royal love triangle to work, each of its three points must be compelling enough to avoid falling into a black hole of ‘80s tabloid headlines (a fate that Ryan Murphy’s Feud: Charles and Diana will either side-step or lean into when it tackles the same territory). Whether the show’s producers chose to pick an established name, a rising star or a relative newcomer, we have plenty of suggestions…
So, who will be The Crown's Camilla Parker-Bowles?
BAFTA Rising Star nominee Florence Pugh is a formidable and captivating presence on screen – just watch her in Lady Macbeth for proof. Next up are roles in Fighting with My Family, a WWE dramedy co-starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, John Le Carré adaptation The Little Drummer Girl and a BBC take on King Lear, so she's nothing if not versatile.
Maybe it's just us, but couldn't British actress Lucy Boynton pass as a younger, Hollywood-ified Camilla in this snap from the premiere of Murder on the Orient Express? Passing resemblances aside, the 24-year-old already has one Netflix role to her name (in the short-lived psychological drama Gypsy), along with a string of films (including the brilliant but overlooked musical Sing Street and the forthcoming Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody).
Holliday Grainger is one of those stars who are reliably great in all that they do, whether that's bringing a much-needed human element to the screen version of posh boy drama The Riot Club or as an upbeat foil to the grizzled lead detective in the BBC's Strike series. A role in Netflix juggernaut like The Crown would give her profile a deserved boost across the Atlantic, too. Fun fact: she hails from Manchester, just like Claire Foy.
The Game of Thrones star has already been touted as a top choice for The Crown's Princess of Wales, but she'd be a strong contender when it comes to picking Diana's arch rival, too. What's important is our familiarity with 21-year-old Sophie: we've spent seven seasons rooting for her as Sansa Stark, so for better or worse, we'd probably be better disposed to her Camilla than, say, a total unknown in the same role.
A disclaimer: after watching three-time (yes, that's three-time) Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird, we're firmly of the opinion that she should be cast in everything forthwith, The Crown included. Like the show's departing Queen, Claire Foy, the 23-year-old can seemingly convey an infinitesimal number of emotions with just a glance, and while she'd be equally qualified to play a young Lady Di, she'd certainly make the role of Camilla a compelling one.
Honestly, we're surprised that Juno Temple hasn't already joined the cast of The Crown, given that she has a habit of popping up in each and every British period drama made from 2007 onwards. It only seems right, then, that she should get a look in for season three. Given that she's done the whole jolly hockey sticks thing in St Trinian's and Wild Child, it's not such a stretch to see her as a young, polo-mad Camilla…