Just a year after Netflix Royal drama, The Crown, enriched the lives of her majesty’s many subjects, season two will hit the streaming service on December 8th. Season one gave us a gripping insight into the early years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign by spreading its story across the whole of the royal household not just focusing on one of the longest-serving monarchs in British history.
Running across ten hour length episodes, the lusciously warm tones of season one have been carried over into the new season which covers the period of Elizabeth’s reign between 1956 and 1963. It’s a time of uncertainty for the dated and traditional monarchy, as times are changing and everyone seems to be “aving it orf” as affairs are listed high on this delicious menu. Thankfully, yet again, we are delivered a script that doesn’t let it get itself sucked into painting an unrealistic picture of the Royals; instead, we are shown an honest depiction, warts and all, of a family that has just as many issues as the next dysfunctional family.
Laced between the family drama is, of course, the political crisis Britain has faced over this seven-year period, and throwing us straight into the icy depths The Crown opens with the Suez Canal Crisis. Elizabeth (Claire Foy) shows no backbone, not permitted to show a lack of support for the government, she relies heavily on her new Prime Minister after she discovers Philip isn’t quite the loyal stag she thought he was. The seven-year period deals with the pressures of running a government as Elizabeth witnesses three different Prime Ministers come and go due to their incompetence in following in the footsteps of Winston Churchill.
Season 2 focuses a large portion of its time focusing on the ‘difficult’ characters of The Royal Family with a staggering insight into Prince Philip (Matt Smith) and his infidelity playing a major role. The relationship between The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh is a rollercoaster of emotional icebergs to a playful, loving beach perfect life together. Elizabeth is only pushed over the edge with Philip’s increasing absence come the end of the series where he is implemented in the Profumo affair leads her to drop that incredible stiff upper lip and confronting him on his affair with a Ballerina.
Philip’s own childhood and backstory is also unearthed in one episode opening up an extra layer of his character. This episode also ties in seamlessly with a story that concentrates solely on a young school-aged Prince Charles and the virtually non-existent relationship he has with his Father. A number of flashback sequences take us to Philip’s own childhood in a Nazi household being sent to a remote Scottish school. For the most part, until now, Charles has always been that quiet, shy child in the background but he is forced very much into the limelight as Philip takes a tough stance in toughing up his oversensitive son. Designed, it would seem, to tug heavily on the heartstrings; even those with no real love of the Royal Family won’t help but feel a longing sympathy for the boy Charles as he grows ever further away from the loving arms of his father.
After the heartbreaking affair with Peter Townsend was cruelly thwarted in its tracks for Margaret in season one, Elizabeth’s sister gets her own time to shine too. Fragile and broken it’s a wonder how this woman stayed so close to the family fold, Vanessa Kirby explodes with brilliance as her Margaret grows into the “black sheep” of the family, wishing she could leave Royal life behind her. Her bitter disappointments have turned her into a Jekyll and Hyde type character, full of wit and charm one minute to a difficult nightmare the next, making snide remarks to her sister whenever she can. Love is on the horizon finally for Margaret when she meets the very modern and extremely unconventional Photographer, Anthony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode).
As with season one, The Crown’s follow-up season is just as seductively glamorous and sumptuously beautiful, from the pitch-perfect script, the quality production and mostly the superb all-around cast performances where Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby both shine so brightly. Matt Smith makes a career-defining turn as Philip this season, by the far the most outstanding performance from the show bar none. For those coming in to replace the likes of Foy and Smith in season 3 have a tough job ahead of them.