It has been more than 20 months since The Crown season 2 dropped on Netflix (a.k.a. 613 days to those of us who have been marking the days off on the calendar). And while there’s been plenty of actual royal family news in that time—the birth of Prince Louis, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding, Princess Eugenie’s marriage to Jack Brooksbank, and the birth of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor to name a few—the royal event we’ve all most been looking forward to is the return of The Crown. Finally, season 3 has got a premiere date.
Since making its premiere on November 4, 2016, the Netflix series—which won the 2017 Golden Globe for Best Drama and a handful of Emmys (including one for Claire Foy as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)—has become an indisputable hit. The streaming series, created by two-time Oscar nominee Peter Morgan, follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the ups and downs of the royal family.
Now that you’ve surely binge-watched the first two seasons, we’re looking ahead to season 3. Here’s everything we know about The Crown’s next season so far.
1. The Crown season 3 will premiere on November 17, 2019.
After close to two years of waiting, Netflix surprised everyone on Monday, August 12th by dropping a very dramatic teaser for The Crown’s third season, which gave us a premiere date—November 17th—as well as a quick glimpse of our new Queen.
2. Olivia Colman will play queen elizabeth II.
From the very beginning, creator Peter Morgan made it clear that each season of The Crown would cover roughly a decade of history, and that the cast would change for season three and again in season five (to more accurately represent the characters 20 and 40 years later). In October 2017, it was announced that Olivia Colman—who nabbed a Best Actress Oscar earlier this year for her work in The Favourite—would take over the role of Queen Elizabeth II.
Though she might be best known to American audiences for her roles in Broadchurch and The Night Manager (the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe in 2017), Colman is no stranger to playing a member of the royal family. In addition to her award-winning role as Queen Anne in The Favourite, she played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon—wife of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret—in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012).
3. Tobias Menzies IS taking over as prince philip.
Between Outlander, The Terror, and Game of Thrones, Tobias Menzies has been keeping himself busy these days. In late March 2017 it was announced that he’d be taking over Matt Smith’s role as Prince Philip for the next two seasons of The Crown—and Smith couldn't have been happier. Shortly after the announcement was made, Smith described his replacement as "the perfect casting," telling the Observer: "He’s a wonderful actor. I worked with him on The History Boys, and he’s a totally fantastic actor. I’m very excited to see what he does with Prince Philip."
4. Menzies had little interest in the royal family before being cast in the crown.
Menzies was excited about his casting in The Crown, saying that, "I'm thrilled to be joining the new cast of The Crown and to be working with Olivia Colman again. I look forward to becoming her 'liege man of life and limb.'" Yet in February 2019, Menzies admitted that he wasn't all that familiar with the history of the royal family. "I wasn't massively interested in the royals before I took the part," Menzies told RadioTimes.com. "I wasn’t someone who read about them or involved myself with them, but I’ve been very intrigued by [Prince Philip's] life. He’s a pretty interesting bloke. He’s a complex person, with complex stories. I have a lot of regard for him."
5. Menzies accidentally let the season 3 release date slip just a couple of weeks before Netflix announced it.
We're not saying that Netflix hadn't always planned to reveal season 3's release date in August, but we do know that in late July, while appearing on Jo Good's BBC Radio show, Menzies let a key detail about the new season slip. While talking about his role in The Crown, Menzies noted that, "We shot season three and that starts in November." Oops!
6. Paul Bettany came very close to having Menzies's role.
If you remember hearing rumblings that Paul Bettany would be playing the Duke of Edinburgh, no, you're not imagining things. For a while it seemed like the London-born actor was a shoo-in for the part, but it turned out that scheduling was not in Bettany's favor. When asked about the rumors that he was close to signing a deal to play Philip, Bettany said that, "We discussed it. We just couldn’t come to terms on dates really. [That] is all that happened."
7. Helena Bonham Carter will play Princess Margaret.
After months of speculation—and one big hint via Instagram—in May 2018, Netflix finally confirmed the previously "all but confirmed" rumor that Helena Bonham Carter would play Princess Margaret in The Crown's next season. "I’m not sure which I’m more terrified about—doing justice to the real Princess Margaret or following in the shoes of Vanessa Kirby’s Princess Margaret,” Bonham Carter said of the role. “The only thing I can guarantee is that I’ll be shorter [than Vanessa]."
Like Colman, Bonham Carter also has some experience playing a royal: She played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a.k.a. the Queen Mother, in the Oscar-winning The King's Speech.
8. Princess Diana will not appear in season 3.
As The Crown moves forward, time will, too. Though fans worried that, based on the current time jumps between seasons, it would take another few years to see Princess Diana be introduced, Morgan told People Magazine that Princess Diana would make her first appearance toward the end of season three and that she will be heavily featured in the two seasons that follow. However, casting director Nina Gold later dispelled that notion.
"Diana’s not in this season," Gold told Vanity Fair. "When we do get to her, that is going to be pretty interesting." Charles and Diana did not meet until 1977, when the Prince began dating Diana's older sister, Sarah. According to Variety, season three will only cover the years 1964 to 1976.
9. Camilla Parker Bowles will be featured.
As it’s difficult to fully cover the relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana without including Camilla Parker Bowles as part of the story, the current Duchess of Cornwall will make her first appearance in season three, and will be played by Call the Midwife star Emerald Fennell.
10. The actress who plays Camilla had a key behind-the-scenes role on Killing Eve's second season.
Much like Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is a noted actor and writer, Emerald Fennell has logged plenty of hours behind the camera, too. In fact, when Waller-Bridge—who developed Killing Eve for television—stepped back from the series during its second season to concentrate on season 2 of Fleabag, it was Fennell who stepped into her shoes as writer and showrunner. (She was nominated for two Emmys this year for her work on the show, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
11. Buckingham Palace will be getting an upgrade.
Though it's hard to imagine a more lavish set design, Left Bank—the series's production company—requested more studio space for its sets at Elstree Studios in late 2017, and received approval to do just that in April. According to Variety, Left Bank specifically "sought planning permission for a new Buckingham Palace main gates and exterior, including the iconic balcony on which the royals stand at key moments. The Downing Street plans show a new Number 10 and the road leading up to the building itself. The sketches for the new work, seen by Variety, show an aerial view of Downing Street with a Rolls Royce pulling up outside Number 10."
12. Princess Margaret's marriage to Lord Snowdon will be a part of the story.
Princess Margaret’s roller-coaster relationship with Antony Armstrong-Jones played a major part of The Crown’s second season, and the dissolution of their marriage will play out in season three.
“We’re now writing season three," Robert Lacey, the series’s history consultant and the author of The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1, told Town & Country in December. “And in season three, without giving anything away—it’s on the record, it’s history—we’ll see the breakup of this extraordinary marriage between Margaret and Snowdon. This season, you see how it starts, and what a strange character, a brilliant character Snowdon was.”
13. Jason Watkins will play prime minister Harold Wilson.
At the same time Netflix confirmed Bonham Carter's casting, the network announced that BAFTA-winning actor Jason Watkins had been cast as Harold Wilson, who was prime minister between 1964 and 1970 and again between 1974 and 1976. "I am delighted to become part of this exceptional show,” Watkins said. “And so thrilled to be working once again with Peter Morgan. Harold Wilson is a significant and fascinating character in our history. So looking forward to bringing him to life, through a decade that transformed us culturally and politically."
14. Gillian Anderson will play Margaret Thatcher.
Ok, so this might be a fourth season tidbit—but it's still very worth talking about. In January 2019 it was rumored that The Crown had cast its Iron Lady: it was strongly suggested that former The X-Files star Gillian Anderson had signed on to play former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown's fourth season. Finally, Netflix has confirmed it.
15. Season 4's Princess Diana has been cast.
Ok, so we're cheating with another season 4 piece of news—but it's a big one. On April 9, 2019, Netflix confirmed via a press release that producers have found their Princess Diana in newcomer Emma Corrin. The actress, who made her television debut earlier this year in an episode of Grantchester and will appear in the film Misbehaviour with Keira Knightley later this year, will make her debut in the series' next season.
"Emma is a brilliant talent who immediately captivated us when she came in for the part of Diana Spencer," creator Morgan said in a statement. "As well as having the innocence and beauty of a young Diana, she also has, in abundance, the range and complexity to portray an extraordinary woman who went from anonymous teenager to becoming the most iconic woman of her generation."
Corrin, understandably, was equally thrilled to be able to announce the news. "I have been glued to the show since the first episode and to think I’m now joining this incredibly talented acting family is just surreal," she said. "Princess Diana was an icon, and her effect on the world remains profound and inspiring. To be given the chance to explore her through Peter Morgan’s writing is the most exceptional opportunity, and I will strive to do her justice!"
16. We may not have to wait as long to see season 4.
Even before a season 3 release date had been announced, Peter Morgan confirmed that they were shooting seasons 3 and 4 "back-to-back." Meaning we may not have to wait as long for season 4 to arrive.