Spoiler Alert: The Royal Scandals Shaping The Crown's Third Season
By Katie Rosseinsky Posted on 3 Oct 2018
Blame the recent casting shake-up, but we’ll be waiting a while before The Crown‘s third season lands on Netflix’s home screen - until 2019, according to the streaming service, who are yet to share a more definite release date for installment number three of their wildly successful royal drama.
But 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 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.
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 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…
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.
… 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 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.
NOW READ: Everything We Know So Far About The Crown Season Three
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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