The Crown Season 3: Plot Spoilers, Sneak Peeks and Everything Else You Need to Know

From Princess Margaret's high profile affair to Princess Anne's kidnapping scare, season 3 of The Crown is an eventful one...

Olivia Colman The Crown

by Katie Rosseinsky & Shana Lynch |
Updated on

We've been waiting for this moment for what seems like forever... Season 2 of The Crown was released in December 2017, so the juicy details of the lives of the royals may have slipped your brain since then. But don't worry — we've got everything you need to know about Olivia Colman taking over from Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth right here.

What will happen in season 3 of The Crown?

As we are talking about The Crown, a show anchored (at least partly) in real-life royal scandals and political wranglings, it's a little easier than usual to predict the twists and turns that next season might bring. So, in the interests of killing time before new episodes finally drop, we've raked through the archives for hints on what the new series might hold. Brace yourselves for weddings, funerals and even a kidnapping attempt...


The Crown Season 3 - Plot Lines

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The Aberfan disaster

One of the most tragic episodes of Queen Elizabeth's reign will be explored 'with dignity' in season three, according to director Benjamin Caron. In 1966, a colliery tip collapsed in the small mining village of Aberfan, triggering a landslide that engulfed Pantglas Junior School. 144 people were killed, and 116 were young pupils. Filming has already taken place at Cwmaman, a nearby village (no scenes have been shot in Aberfan itself, producers have confirmed), and The Crown's team were keen to explore the disaster respectfully, and with the full blessing of the town's inhabitants.

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Princess Margaret's controversial US tour

If you were charmed by Princess Margaret's exploits in seasons one and two, expect things to step up a gear, scandal-wise, this time around. Earlier this year, Helena Bonham Carter (who has reportedly been consulting a psychic in preparation for the role) and Ben Daniels (her on-screen husband) were pictured outside Hylands Park in Essex, thought to be a stand-in set for the White House; from that, we can assume that season three will touch upon the couple's controversial 1965 tour of the United States. Though their meeting with President Johnson and his wife Lady Bird seemed to pass without major incident, things didn't go quite as smoothly on the rest of the trip. The couple were criticised for spending as much (if not more) time mingling with America's glitterati as they did on their royal duties; the famously sharp-tongued Princess, meanwhile, managed to offend half of Hollywood, describing Elizabeth Taylor as 'vulgar' and telling future Monegasque royal Grace Kelly that she 'didn't look like a movie star.' It was Margaret and Snowden's flagrant spending, though, that became the real point of contention, with headlines in the British press calling out the 'vulgarity' of their 'conspicuous expenditure.'

...And Princess Margaret's affair with Roddy Llewellyn3 of 10

...And Princess Margaret's affair with Roddy Llewellyn

The scandal doesn't stop there. Though season two gave Margaret a tentatively happy ending, her relationship with Snowden was always a tempestuous one, characterised by infidelities on both sides, and series historian Robert Lacey has already confirmed that the new episodes will chart 'the break-up of this extraordinary marriage.' Though both parties are thought to have had a handful of affairs following their 1960 wedding, it was Margaret's involvement with Roddy Llewellyn, a landscape gardener (shock!) 17 years her junior, that was the catalyst for their eventual split. Following their meeting in 1973 and several years of on-off romance, pictures of the couple's PDA on the island of Mustique were published in the British tabloids. It was only then that Snowden (a little hypocritically) decided to ask for divorce. Whatever showrunner Peter Morgan chooses to spin out of this particular episode, we can only assume that it will involve Helena Bonham Carter flouncing around in some very extravagant kaftans...

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Princess Anne gets married...

The Crown's third season will begin to focus on the younger generation of royals, and on the Queen's two elder children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, in particular. Given the time frame of this series, which will stretch from 1964 to 1976, it's almost certain we'll get to see another royal wedding – that of Princess Anne - recreated for the small screen (after the show's first season opened with the wedding of the then-Princess Elizabeth). The Princess – fresh from competing in the Olympic Games as an equestrian, no less – wed Captain Mark Phillips, a lieutenant in the Queen's Dragoon Guards and therefore a 'commoner,' in November 1973, wearing a high-necked, elaborately sleeved white gown by British couturier Maureen Baker. Phillips would refuse a title from the Queen as a wedding gift, something which The Crown might perhaps explore in more detail.

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...And gets kidnapped

Truly, the '70s were a wild ride for the Queen's only daughter. In March 1974, just four months after her wedding, Princess Anne was heading back to the Palace by car after a charity film premiere. A white Ford Escort blocked her Rolls-Royce on the Mall, forcing the royal car to stop. Out came Ian Ball, a would-be kidnapper armed with two handguns; believing Ball to be a disgruntled driver, Anne's protection officer Inspector James Beaton (pictured above after the accident in hospital being visited by Princess Anne herself) went to meet him – and was shot in his right shoulder. Ball then approached the Princess in the back seat, ordering her to get out of the car or be shot. Demonstrating an admirably cool head, Anne went on to have what she'd later describe as 'a very irritating conversation' with her assailant, refusing to leave the vehicle and even responding to one of his demands with the immortal line 'not bloody likely.' A group of police and passers-by (including a former boxer and a Daily Mail journalist) apprehended Ball, while Anne was able to slide out of the opposite back door, tricking her attacker into following her – then jumping back in. Ball was eventually charged with attempted murder and kidnapping, and told the court that he had wanted 'to draw attention to the lack of facilities for treating mental illness under the National Health Service.' This frightening episode prompted a new, more comprehensive approach to royal security.

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Prince Charles becomes the Prince of Wales

One doesn't just become the Prince of Wales: tradition dictates that an investiture, a formal ceremony in which the Prince is dressed up in all his regalia and sworn into his new role, is required. For Prince Charles, the ceremony took place at Caernarfon Castle in July 1969; this being the '60s, royal advisors were keen to shake things up a little, to prove that the monarchy was moving with the times, after all. Enter Antony Armstrong-Jones, now known as Lord Snowden.The photographer (and royal by marriage) was charged with updating the ceremony, curating a more contemporary look and feel. His designs included a simple slate dias, a Perspex canopy (allowing TV cameras to fully capture proceedings) and the stylized, minimal red chairs for the guests, which have since become collectors' items. He even created a new coronet for the Prince, the previous one having been taken (illegally) by the Duke of Windsor when he went into exile following his abdication. Naturally, Snowden's modernising impulses caused a stir with some palace staff: one rumour has him chastising the Garter King of Arms (ie. the man in charge of royal heraldry) with the line, 'Garter, be more elastic!' Though the ceremony eventually went off without a hitch, it also stirred up hostility among nationalist groups: the night before the investiture, two Movement for the Defence of Wales activists were killed when they tried to plant a bomb outside government buildings in protest.

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Britain wins the World Cup

In 1966, football really did come home when England beat West Germany by four goals to two at Wembley stadium. Both the Queen and Prince Philip were in attendance at the now-legendary match, and eventually presented captain Bobby Moore with the Jules Rimet trophy. Given that production for The Crown's third outing began this summer, when Britain was in the thick of Three Lions mania following a mildly good, definitely not awful showing by Gareth Southgate's team in Russia, it seems pretty likely that next season will include a nod to England's greatest sporting success...

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Charles meets Camilla

While Peter Morgan has confirmed that The Crown won't began to deal with Princess Diana until season four (when Margaret Thatcher will likely be introduced, too), we do know that Charles' relationship with the then-Camilla Shand will be a prominent plotline. There's certainly plenty to unpick: 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. This would persist, on and off, through their respective marriages (to Andrew Parker Bowles, a former boyfriend of Princess Anne, in 1973, and to Diana in 1981.) But who should play Camilla? We have plenty of suggestions...

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A state of emergency is declared

The '70s were a turbulent decade for Britain, characterised by economic decline, the miners' strike and a subsequent power crisis, prompting Prime Minister Edward Heath to call for a three day week to conserve fuel.

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The Duke of Windsor passes away

In seasons one and two, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (the former King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson) strutted around a pair of pug-obsessed panto villains, always just seconds away from deploying a barbed one-liner or particularly snobby nickname (in the second season, they became genuinely sinister, when their reportedly links to Nazi Germany are exposed). But in their old age, the couple gradually reconciled with the royal family. When the Duke passed away in 1972, Wallis was even invited to stay at Buckingham Palace ahead of the funeral, an episode that will surely make it into the script.

Who is in the cast of The Crown season 3?

We already know that season 3 has an entirely new cast than seasons one and two (probably why we had to wait so long for the new season), but who exactly is playing the royal family and their friends this season?


The Crown Season 3 cast

Olivia Colman1 of 11

Olivia Colman

Starring as: The QueenKnown for: The Favourite, Fleabag, Broadchurch

Tobias Menzies2 of 11

Tobias Menzies

Starring as: Prince PhilipKnown for: The Night Manager, Game of Thrones, Rome, Outlander

Helena Bonham Carter3 of 11

Helena Bonham Carter

Starring as: Princess MargaretKnown for: A Room with a View, Fight Club, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland

Erin Doherty4 of 11

Erin Doherty

Starring as: Princess AnneKnown for: Les Misérables

Ben Daniels5 of 11

Ben Daniels

Starring as: Lord SnowdonKnown for: The Exorcist, The Exception, House of Cards

Marion Bailey6 of 11

Marion Bailey

Starring as: The Queen MotherKnown for: The Bill, Britannia, Vera Drake

Josh O'Connor7 of 11

Josh O'Connor

Starring as: Prince CharlesKnown for: God's Own Country, The Durrells, Only You

Emerald Fennell8 of 11

Emerald Fennell

Starring as: Camilla ShandKnown for: Call the Midwife, Vita and Virginia

Jason Watkins9 of 11

Jason Watkins

Starring as: Harold WilsonKnown for: Line of Duty, Hold the Sunset, Nativity!

Emma Corrin10 of 11

BONUS: Emma Corrin

Starring as: Princess Diana in season 4Known for: Pennyworth

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BONUS: Gillian Anderson

Starring as: Margaret Thatcher in season 4Known for: Sex Education, The X-Files, The Fall

Have any trailers been released?

Ask and you shall receive — there have been three trailers released for The Crown season 3. Watch below...

Wait, what happened last season?

Given that we've been waiting almost two years, you'd be forgiven for forgetting a few bits and bobs about what happened during season one and two. To make it even more difficult for you, each ten-part season of the Emmy-winning show deals with a different decade in this second Elizabethan era, playing with our abiding fascination with what goes on behind palace doors as it goes.

Don't worry, though, here's everything you need to know about The Crown...


The Crown: Your Cheat Sheet For Netflix's Must-Watch Royal Drama - Grazia

The Crown: Your Cheat Sheet For Netflix's Must-Watch Royal Drama - Grazia1 of 7

So, what is The Crown about?

Written by Peter Morgan, the man behind The Queen and The Audience, The Crown explores the political crises and personal intrigues of Elizabeth's reign, from her fledgling marriage to Prince Philip to Princess Margaret's own relationship woes, eventually moving on to deal with more recent history (three words: Charles, Camillia, Diana). Set in the 1950s, season one opens with the tragic death of King George VI, and follows the 26-year-old Elizabeth as she learns how to wear the 'crown' of the title, adapting to her new role as head of the world's most famous monarchy. Elsewhere, Princess Margaret makes an unsuitable match when she falls in love with the divorced Peter Townsend, which begins to drive a rift between her and her sister, while Prince Philip struggles to adjust to his newly subordinate position, deferring to his wife's authority as Queen.

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What happens in season two?

The second season of The Crown (and the last for Claire Foy, Matt Smith and the first iteration of the show's ensemble cast) sees cracks begin to deepen in the royal marriage: with Prince Philip dispatched on a tour of the Commonwealth, whispers about his alleged indiscretions begin to reach the Queen. Margaret, meanwhile, finds a new suitor in the form of society photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones. John and Jackie Kennedy even make a transatlantic cameo in episode eight, which imagines what really went on during their 1961 visit to the Palace. Later in the season, we get an insight into Philip's troubled upbringing, and a glimpse at Charles' fraught experiences of boarding school at Gordonstoun in Scotland.

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And what will happen in season three?

Given that The Crown is anchored in historical fact, we can certainly hazard a guess as to what the '70s-set season three has in store. Producer Suzanne Macie has already confirmed that we'll be introduced to Camilla Parker Bowles (now the Duchess of Cornwall) next season: the Prince met Camilla (née Shand) who will be played by Emerald Fennell at a polo match in 1971, and dated her until 1973, when he departed with the Royal Navy and Camilla announced her engagement to Andrew Parker Bowles. In an interview with Town & Country, the series' history consultant Robert Lacey revealed that we'll see 'the break-up of this extraordinary marriage between Margaret (who will be portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter) and Snowdon,' adding that 'this season, you see how it starts, and what a strange charater, a brilliant character Snowdon was.' Outside of palace walls, the '70s was certainly a turbulent decade, marked by widespread strikes and an economic slump, a backdrop which will doubtless seep into Peter Morgan's storylines. And as for a certain People's Princess? Morgan has previously hinted that Diana won't make an appearance next season: 'if she were to be introduced, it'd probably have to wait until the fourth,' he told Vanity Fair. The future Princess of Wales did, however, meet Charles for the first time in 1977, when she was just 16 and he was dating her older sister, making a cameo not entirely improbable…

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How much did it cost to make The Crown?

Painstakingly recreating palaces certainly doesn't come cheap. Along with its potentially controversial take on The Firm, the show has made headlines because of its huge budget. Netflix's priciest production to date, the first season reportedly boasted a budget of around £100 million. To put that in period drama context, each episode of the Beeb's recent War and Peace adaptation cost around £2 million, while an installment of Downton was a relative bargain, costing half that. If whispers are to be believed, a sizeable chunk of that budget went on the show's jaw-dropping costumes. For season one, designer Michele Clapton (who has also been celebrated for her sterling work on Game of Thrones) and her team created thousands of historically accurate costumes from scratch, including the famous Norman Hartnell coronation gown and various pieces from Princess Margaret's extensive designer wardrobe.

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How accurate is The Crown?

If you're anything like us, watching one episode of the show inevitably leads to spending another hour Googling the various characters, storylines and scandals which you've just seen unfold on screen, all in pursuit of one question: just how historically accurate is The Crown? In the vast majority of cases, the answer is 'really quite truthful, actually.' In the case of the Windsors, it seems the truth is far more intriguing than fiction. While writer Peter Morgan might sometimes play fast and loose with the facts in favour of a particularly dramatic scenario or heated conversation, all of the storylines we've seen so far have had their grounding in history. The show even employs a historical consultant, Robert Lacey, to ensure things don't get too far-fetched.

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What does the Queen really think about The Crown?

If certain quarters are to be believed, the team behind the show can count one Very Important Personage amongst their legions of admirers: the Queen is reported to be a fan. Mind-blowing as it might be to imagine Her Majesty in possession of a Netflix login, the Queen was apparently persuaded to give the show a go by her youngest son, Prince Edward. 'Happily, she really liked it, although obviously there were some depictions of events that she found too heavily dramatized,' a source claimed to the Express. Prince Philip, meanwhile, looks upon the show less favourably, according to an anecdote relayed by his on-screen counterpart Matt Smith (Smith will be replaced by Tobias Menzies for the show's third season). When a friend of Smith's ventured to ask the Duke whether he'd watched the show, his response was to exclaim 'Don't. Be. Ridiculous,' according to a profile piece in The Observer.

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The Crown: Your Cheat Sheet For Netflix's Must-Watch Royal Drama - Grazia

For seasons one and two, the show assembled an impressive (and now award-winning) cast. Claire Foy, a veteran of period dramas like the BBC's Little Dorrit and Wolf Hall won a well-deserved Golden Globe for her performance as Elizabeth, supported by former Doctor Who Matt Smith as Prince Philip and Vanessa Kirby as the younger Margaret. The supporting line-up included John Lithgow as a taciturn Winston Churchill, Mad Men star Jared Harris as Elizabeth's father King George VI (aka, the monarch so memorably played by Colin Firth in The King's Speech) and Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother. However for season three, the cast has experienced a major switch-up to fit the respective ages of the characters in the time period that will be depicted (The 1970's) The Queen will be played by Olivia Coleman, Princess Margaret will be portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter and Tobias Menzies will replace Matt Smith as Prince Phillip. Ben Daniels will join the cast as Lord Snowdon (Princess Margaret's husband) as will Emerald Fennell to play Camilla Parker-Bowles to Josh O'Connor's Prince Charles. Erin Doherty has been cast as Princess Anne, who will take on a greater role in the series as it progresses into the 1970's during which time her attempted kidnapping took place, and Marion Bailey will play the Queen Mother.

Right, is there anything else I need to know?

To make sure you're completely, royally ready for the premiere of season 3, watch our video on absolutely everything you need to know for season 3 of The Crown...

And have a quick flick through this gallery full of facts and figures about the upcoming season...


The Crown S3 slider - Grazia

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

Olivia Colman is our new Queen

The first of these new cast members to be announced was Olivia Colman, who'll be stepping into the Queen's sturdy patent courts as The Crown moves through the Seventies and beyond. This is arguably the biggest role yet for one of Britain's best-loved (and most versatile) actresses, who already has one Golden Globe to her name (earned for her supporting role in The Night Manager). She'll be joined by Helena Bonham-Carter, who'll embody Princess Margaret in her most turbulent years, while Tobias Menzies will be Matt Smith's replacement as Prince Philip. Newly announced as an addition to the cast is Ben Smith, who will play Anthony Armstrong-Jones opposite Helena's Princess Margaret.

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CREDIT: Netflix

We'll be waiting until 2019 for new episodes

Let the waiting game begin: the long process of re-casting means that production for the third season is set to begin in July, with a release date slated for 2019.

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CREDIT: Netflix

The cast will be entirely new

Tearing through a decade or so in just ten episodes, The Crown's characters are ageing at such a rate that the actors playing them just can't keep up. So, in the interests of verisimilitude (prosthetics and CGI trickery can, after all, only go so far) season three will inaugurate a fresh line-up of stars. While we're sad to wave goodbye to Claire Foy, Matt Smith and co, the promise of an entirely new cast is certainly one that'll keep us talking until the next season airs.

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CREDIT: Netflix

It’ll start off in the mid-Sixties

Season two closed in 1964, concluding with the birth of Elizabeth and Philip's youngest child, Prince Edward. The show's third round should pick up shortly after, with a storyline that will carry us through Harold Wilson's turbulent tenure as Prime Minister, which saw the UK gripped by economic crises and industrial strikes.

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

Diana won't make an appearance this time around...

After teasing us with hints to the contrary, the show's producers have finally confirmed that we won't be introduced to Lady Diana Spencer in season three (despite the fact that the future Princess of Wales first met her husband-to-be aged just 16, when he was dating her older sister, Sarah) Whichever actress lands the coveted role will go on to take centre stage in season four, as the show starts to document her tumultuous marriage to Prince Charles; there are also rumours that the star could stay on into the fifth season. Let the casting speculation commence…

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CREDIT: Netflix

Seasons three and four will be shot back to back

Peter Morgan, the show's creator, recently revealed that the next two seasons will be shot consecutively. 'We're doing them back-to-back. I'm writing them all at the moment,' he recently told the audience at a BAFTA Masterclass event. 'Now we're just embarking on the process of casting.'

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

... But we will meet Camilla

There were three people in this marriage, after all: season three will also mark Camilla Parker-Bowles' Crown debut (appearing, presumably, alongside a re-cast twenty-something Prince of Wales). Charles and Camilla (née Shand) met and fell in love in the early Seventies, when they were part of the same posh countryside set. At the time, neither party was prepared to fully commit: Charles to a woman who didn't quite fit the mould required by the palace, Camilla to a life of royal rules and regulations.

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

Princess Margaret’s marriage will break down

We could trawl through the history books to pick out potential plot points for season three, one storyline which we can count upon is the disintegration of Princess Margaret's marriage to photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones. 'We'll see the break-up of this extraordinary marriage between Margaret and [Lord] Snowdon, historical consultant Robert Lacey told Town & Country last year. The couple were married for the best part of two decades, eventually separating in 1976 and formally divorcing two years later, with multiple infidelities on both sides.

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CREDIT: Netflix

The sets will be bigger and better than ever

Last year, the show's producers applied for permission to carry out new building work at the show's Elstree base, which has now received a green light from the relevant authorities. This means Buckingham Palace will get new gates and a balcony that's primed for royal waves (does this mean a wedding tableau?), while Downing Street will also be extended.

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Josh O'Connor will play Prince Charles

It's been confirmed that Josh O'Connor, one of this year's nominees for the prestigious EE BAFTA Rising Star award, is set to play a young Prince Charles for seasons three and four (you might recognise from God's Own Country or ITV's The Durrells). In the announcement he said: 'I am thrilled to be joining The Firm for the next instalment of The Crown. Seasons 3 and 4 will follow some of the most turbulent events in the Prince of Wales's life and our national story and I'm excited to be bringing to life the man in the midst of it all. I'm very aware it's a formidably talented family to be joining, but reliably informed I have the ears for the part and will fit right in.'

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CREDIT: Reginald Davis / Rex Features

Princess Anne could have some major storylines

He might be the heir to the throne, but it's not all about Prince Charles in season three: writer Peter Morgan has hinted that the Queen's only daughter, Princess Anne, could have some pivotal plotlines, involving her romance with first husband Captain Mark Phillips and the 1974 kidnap attempt outside Buckingham Palace. She'll be played by Erin Doherty, whose sole TV credit to date came in an episode of Call The Midwife last year.

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The Queen Mother will be played by Marion Bailey

Best known for her roles in Mr Turner and _Vera Drak_e actress Marion Bailey will be taking over from Victoria Hamilton to take on the role of Queen Mother. Here enthusiasm at joining The Crown cast echoed many of the other new additions. She said: 'It's a brilliant show and we have a tough act to follow but what a gift to be playing the fascinating and greatly loved Queen Mother.'

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

READ MORE: The Crown: Sorting The Facts From The Fiction

READ MORE: Unpicking The Costumes On Netflix's The Crown With Michele Clapton

READ MORE: Netflix Thought Nobody Wanted To See The Queen Having Sex On The Crown, According To Vanessa Kirby

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