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What Did The Crown's Major Players Look Like In Real Life?

© Netflix

If you follow up each episode of The Crown with a feverish Google session, rating the resemblance each member of the show's cast bears to each real life royal, then you're definitely not alone. After two seasons of the show, we've learned that the truth is often stranger than fiction, and much of the joy of Netflix's regal costume drama lies in its semi-realism: the fact that the majority of its plot points - from Princess Margaret's scandalous portrait session to Prince Philip's rumoured dalliances to the Duke of Windsor's unpalatable politics - are all rooted in history. In our humble (and nerdish) opinion, the buzz of fact checking some of the show's more outlandish storylines and hunting down grainy black-and-white portraits of the show's real-life characters to compare against the cast is second only to that of enjoying a brand new episode.

As the show moves into the Sixties and Seventies, the forthcoming third season will inaugurate a brand new cast, with Claire Foy, Vanessa Kirby, Matt Smith et al making way for the likes of Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter and Tobias Menzies, playing our favourite royals in their forties and fifties. Though the prospect of returning to a show with entirely different stars will be a strange one for dedicated viewers, the first photos of the new cast, released last month, have just about won us over. We'll also see the younger generation of royals emerge as major players: Josh O'Connor has been confirmed to play a young Prince Charles, though announcements are yet to be made for key characters like Camilla Parker-Bowles and Lady Diana Spencer, the future Princess of Wales (side note: we are still holding out for a Fergie cameo in future episodes).

As the show’s third season begins production – and as Netflix continues to tease us with new stills and plot hints – close down your multiple tabs and consider this your definitive visual cheat sheet to the major players of mid-century history and politics, from season one to season three. Kudos to The Crown’s casting director, Nina Gold: these resemblances are striking….

The Crown: The Cast List