Monday saw the release of the first full-length trailer for Season 3 of Netflix's The Crown. The acclaimed series returns from a two year hiatus so they could
avoid losing the Emmy to Game of Thrones again turn over the cast for the next two-season stretch of the show. Emmy-winner Claire Foy has exited the role of Queen Elizabeth II, making way for Oscar-winner Olivia Colman as the queen. Joining Colman are Tobias Menzies (Game of Thrones) as Prince Phillip, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, and Josh O'Connor (God's Own Country) as Prince Charles.
Trailers are always so tantalizing when it comes to gleaning information in advance of a season's premiere. In this case, it gives us our first first real look at Colman as a stoic Elizabeth, presiding over England during a time of great economic and social unrest. Season 2 of The Crown left off in 1964, and a close read of the trailer appears to place most of the major events of the season in the 1970s.
So after combing through those two and a half minutes of Crown promo, what did we learn?
One of the trailer's most striking recurring images is an unmistakable funeral procession. Judging from the years we seem to be covering, as well as an appearance by Geraldine Chaplin as Wallis Simpson, this would appear to the funeral of the Duke of WIndsor, whose abdication of the throne to marry Simpson was a huge scandal. We see Simpson, long a pariah of her royal in-laws, give young Prince Charles some free advice: "Never turn your back on true love. And watch out for your family." "They mean well," Charles says. "No, they don't," is Simpson's reply.
And just who does the trailer show us when Simpson intones the words "true love" to Charles?
While you'll have to wait another year for The Crown to handle the story of Charles and Diana (as well as introduce Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher), Season 3 will introduce the other woman in Charles' life. Emerald Fennell will play Camilla, who met Charles in the early 1970s, when she and future husband Andrew Parker Bowles were split up, and he was courting Charles's sister, Princess Anne (Erin Doherty).
The late '60s through the '70s were a notoriously difficult period of history for Britain, which was dealing with labor strikes, coal mining accidents, and The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Colman's Elizabeth voices over that England "was still great when I came to the throne. All that's happened on my watch is that it's fallen apart."
And while we won't get to Maggie Thatcher this season, we will get the PM reign of Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins), a Labour reformer and socialist whose election was a rebuke to the conservative government that preceded him. It will make him a threat to the crown, or at least the politicians who Elizabeth favors. At one point in the trailer, Phillip frets to Elizabeth, "If that man wins, he'll want us out." Wilson won his first term in 1964, which is where Season 2 left off, so it's safe to say we're going to hit the ground running when it comes to the game of politics.
Perhaps the single most exciting thing about Season 3 is the chance to see Helena Bonham Carter cut it up as Princess Margaret. The trailer hands even more of the voice-over duties to her than it does to Elizabeth. And what a cunning presence to leave us with. Margaret gives Elizabeth sage advice about the role of the monarchy to paper over the cracks in England's stoic facade. But she's also heard snarking about how she's the #1 sister, and Elizabeth knows it. How far The Crown plans to dive into Margaret's many reported affairs (we're not aware of anyone having been cast as Mick Jagger or David Niven), but judging from the trailer, the fallout of her infidelities will be a source of drama within her marriage,.
The trailer begins with talk of the queen's Silver Jubilee, the 25th anniversary of her coronation. The perfect time for some reflection on just what her reign has meant for England and for her personally. That Jubilee was in 1977, which probably places it towards the end of the season's events.
While Netflix is keeping its cards close to the vest, clearly the major themes of The Crown Season 3 will be Elizabeth trying to manage through hard political times, Princess Margaret wilding out, and young Prince Charles coming of age (and perhaps chafing against his role within the monarchy).
The full season drops on Netflix November 17th, 2019. Will you be watching? Join the conversation in our forums.
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.