Netflix debuted the second season of their historical drama “The Crown” at the end of 2017 and if you haven’t watched season one yet – go do that now and catch up with the rest of the world. Before you embark on season two, which promised to be darker and deeper than the previous season, here is what you need to know about the development of our favorite Queen of England, her family and friends.
Season two takes place in the mid-late 1950s as the United Kingdom regains their footing after World War II and the departure of Winston Churchill from the Prime Minister’s seat. The season dives into impactful domestic and foreign policy issues, like the Suez Canal tension, the shifting realities from a declining empire to a unstable Commonwealth, the departure of Anthony Eden from the Prime Minister’s office, the introduction of a new PM (who leaves office in this season as well) and the visit from President John F. Kennedy and Jackie O., the later assassination and so forth. As historical events unfold, audiences get vibrant insights into the emotions and logic of the young Queen of England as she attempts to navigate peacefully.
Elizabeth and Philip
The show dives into the cracks between the power couple, mostly hinging on implied infidelity and prolonged absences. Philip continues to struggle to accept the concept of deference and starts off the season with a five-month “tour” of countries around the world. Before his trip, Elizabeth finds a portrait of a then-famous ballerina and the “beauty of women” found on the tour is frequently mentioned in letters by Philip’s press secretary/best friend. While there are no scenes explicitly depicting any affairs, the show’s creators hint several times throughout the season, including a prostitution bust to which Philip is laterally connected. There are poignant moments throughout the tour where Philip and/or Elizabeth are seen missing the other and the season concludes with a show of commitment from Philip as a husband. Unlike the impactful conclusion of season one – showing Elizabeth and Philip going in separate directions – season two ends with a united monarch couple, ready to face the world.
The Queen’s only sister emerges as one of the stars of season two, diving into her emotional state. Despite the glitz and glamour that surrounds the princess, season two shows her vulnerabilities, sadness and loneliness. In the aftermath of season one’s breakup with Peter Townsend, Margaret holds a resentment towards her sister and faces the question of whether she will ever marry. Then enters Tony Armstrong, a photographer who lives an adventurous, scandalous life. The pair couldn’t possibly lead more different lives, which seems to be the appeal. Played by Matthew Goode, Tony Armstrong comes off as defiant and one who is not at all intimidated by the glory and power of the Royal Family. The season concludes with Margaret’s happy ending – a wedding to the non-boring photographer. Audiences can note that it is Prince Philip who walks Margaret down the aisle, in place of her father.
Charles and former King David
The show takes the time to devote chunks of time or even full episodes into the backstory of those close to the Crown – while season one focused on Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family, season two brings out the dark, tense past of those who stand on the sides. Prince Charles is sent off to tough boarding school, despite suffering from shyness and timidness.
Through Prince Philip’s insistence, the young prince was shipped off to the former’s alma mater and endured immense unhappiness. The storyline traces back to Prince Philip’s time at the same school, which he claims made him the man he was today. Philip attended the school during the time the majority of his family died in a plane crash and his family were the opposite of warm and understanding in the aftermath. While Prince Philip eventually flourished in the athletic, tough-love school of thought, Prince Charles flounders in a few scenes that are difficult to watch without pangs of sympathy for the young boy. As Nazi ties and Philip’s family were frequently mentioned during these flashback episodes, an episode was devoted to King David, who abdicated the throne for love previous to King George’s reign. His ties and devotion to Nazi Germany were revealed through a series of documents and uncovered communications. The episode, while damning any chance of David’s return to England, showed the difficult past and Queen Elizabeth’s determination to let the light shine on the ugly to move forward.
Overall, season two of the Crown succeeded in generating Google searches and magazine articles about the Royal family’s history, most notably Prince Philip’s fidelity or lack thereof, Princess Margaret’s marriage (she later divorced Armstrong) and the happenings behind the walls of Buckingham Palace. Now, whispers about the upcoming season three are circling, including rumored new casting for the “older” versions of Margaret, Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) and so on.