Since making its premiere on November 4, 2016, The Crown—which won the 2017 Golden Globe for Best Drama—has become an indisputable hit for Netflix. The 10-part series, created by two-time Oscar nominee Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), follows the ascension and early reign of Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy, who won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for her portrayal of the legendary royal) and the challenges it creates in her personal life, particularly in her marriage to Prince Philip (played by former Doctor Who star Matt Smith). Fans binge-watched the show as quickly as it was dropped, and have spent the better part of this year clamoring for details on the second season, which will return on December 8, 2017. Here’s what we know.
1. PRODUCTION ON SEASON TWO BEGAN BEFORE SEASON ONE EVEN PREMIERED.
In November 2016, while speaking on a panel for the nonprofit organization Visionary Women, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos confirmed that production on The Crown's second season was already underway. "We're in production now on the second season," Sarandos said. "This is going to take Queen Elizabeth from age 29 to, presumably, the current day. We'll see it lay out over decades. We've seen a lot of things about Queen Elizabeth, but we've already learned more about her than we ever had by watching the first 10 hours."
In an interview with Vanity Fair, published on November 18, 2016, Foy revealed that they were already a month into shooting. “We literally pick up where we left off—in 1956," she said. “I think Peter’s taking [us up to] '63 or '64. We get into the '60s, and it is a whole other world happening. It’s really exciting, especially because we’ve had such a positive response and everyone’s been really encouraging. It just makes everybody, especially the crew, work even harder. When we first started shooting, and it hadn’t come out. We were like, ‘Oh god, what if they hate it?’ And then we’ll [still have to film a second season] knowing that everyone hated it."
2. SEASON TWO WILL FOCUS ON THE SUEZ CRISIS.
Season two will focus largely on the Suez Crisis of 1956. “Initially, I thought this would only be three seasons,” Morgan told The Hollywood Reporter. “It would be one season of her as the Young Queen, one season of her as the Middle-Aged Queen, one season of her as an Old Queen. It's only in the writing of it that I said, ‘Oh, my God I need more time.’ The truth of the matter is, I could've written three or even four seasons of her as the Young Queen. I did get to the point where I thought, ‘Actually no, let's leave it on the knife's edge of Suez because Suez feels like a changing point for the country. Britain was never the same again after Suez.’ Therefore, I was going to deal with that at the beginning of season two. Which we do.”
3. PRINCES PHILIP AND CHARLES WILL HAVE BIGGER ROLES.
Though Elizabeth's family was a major part of The Crown's first season, season two will devote more screen time to both Prince Philip and a young Prince Charles.
"We start to focus on Charles as a young boy and his education, and on Philip and his back story,” Morgan told People in December. Earlier this month, while discussing the show at a Royal Television Society event in London, Morgan gave a few more details on season two: "Its soul is about Prince Philip's complexity. "I find him extraordinarily interesting—his childhood, again, you couldn't make it up. The soul of season two is about his complexity."
4. PRINCESS MARGARET IS GOING TO BE "NAUGHTY."
Though audiences got to see a bit about Princess Margaret's lust for life, and complicated romantic entanglements, in the first season, we'll get an even wilder version of her in season two. "She’s naughty," Foy told W Magazine. "Very minxy. She gets even naughtier even though she gets married. The naughtiness just continues." (Margaret's husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones—a.k.a. Lord Snowdon—will be played by Downton Abbey star Matthew Goode.)
In discussing Vanessa Kirby, the actress who plays Margaret, Morgan told Vanity Fair that, “Vanessa explodes this season. We always knew she was a great actress, but she explodes. It’s a very identifiable tragedy, to have someone in the family with more apparent charisma and yet no use for it ... I love writing her.”
5. NETFLIX WOULD LIKE TO SEE A TOTAL OF SIX SEASONS.
Though it’s the most expensive television series ever made, Sarandos seems rather pleased with the results of The Crown—and the audience's reaction to it. Even if season two does bring viewers up to the present day, the series won’t stop there. In fact, from the get-go, Netflix saw the series as a long-term investment. "The idea is to do this over six decades, in six seasons presumably, and make the whole show over eight to 10 years," Sarandos said.
6. FUTURE SEASONS COULD SEE SOME MAJOR CAST CHANGES.
Though Foy and Smith are both back for season two of The Crown, it will reportedly be their last. Because of the chronological nature of the narrative, seasons three and beyond would focus on the Queen in the later years of her reign, which would require an older actress. According to Digital Spy, if all six seasons of the series shake out as planned, the cast will change for season three then again in season five, for the final two seasons. Producer Andrew Eaton said that he and the rest of the team have had some “conversations” about who might play the royal couple next, but right now they are firmly focused on Foy.
"We saw a number of actresses in the beginning [to play the young Elizabeth] who were all brilliant, but Claire ... there was something about her," Eaton said.
"If you're going to take this character—and she's doing all of the first two seasons, so it's 20 hours with the same character—it's got to be someone that you can identify with and feels vulnerable and sympathetic and she has that quality as a person.”
7. JOHN AND JACKIE KENNEDY WILL PLAY A PART IN SEASON TWO.
As season two ventures into the 1960s, we do know that John and Jackie Kennedy will be a part of the narrative. On February 9, 2017, Variety confirmed that Michael C. Hall will play JFK, while Quarry's Jodi Balfour will play his wife, Jackie.
"I absolutely fell in love with Jodi Balfour," Foy told Entertainment Weekly in July. "She’s just brilliant, and Michael C. Hall is just incredible. You really see how amazing it is to put Philip and Elizabeth—their marriage and their world—suddenly into the 1960s. You see how the royal family has to start changing and move with the times and realize that things and people are different, and you start to see the evolution of the modern monarchy."
8. A THIRD SEASON HAS YET TO BE CONFIRMED, BUT MORGAN'S ALREADY THINKING ABOUT IT.
If audience response to the first season told us anything, season two of The Crown is bound to be a hit. Still, Netflix has yet to confirm that a third season will be coming. "We're talking [to Netflix] all the the time but we just want to see how the second series goes," Morgan said in early August. "We're pretty swamped at the moment. I've started thinking about a third season—you have to be responsible, you can't say you'll do it and then suddenly go, 'Actually I found out it's really dull.' I have done some preparatory work, I'd be happy to do it, but at the moment I'm swamped."
The Crown is streaming now on Netflix.