The series starts with the Queen inspecting a new postage stamp, paving the way for an older monarch, and for Olivia Colman to take over from Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth. As in previous series, there’s also a new prime minister, with Harold Wilson arriving at Buckingham Palace for his first audience with the Queen (see page 86). There are also rumours of a spy in influential circles as The Crown addresses rumours Wilson was working with the KGB ,and the discovery that it was the Queen’s art adviser Sir Anthony Blunt who was working for the Russians (see page92).The Queen also farewells her favourite PM.
CROWNING MOMENT: Elizabeth’s off-the-cuff description of herself as an “old bat” while inspecting a new stamp,as her advisers gush over her likeness.
Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon head to the US (see page 32)where he is launching a book of his photography, only for the trip to become an official visit in a bid to financially bail out the British government. The tense state of Margaret’s marriage to Snowdon is laid bareas the couple argue, while the British newspapers hit out when the trip appears to be all playand little work.
CROWNING MOMENT: Princess Margaret’s dirty limericks during a state dinnerwith President Johnson.
The Welsh mining town of Aberfan is hit by disaster as slurry from the local coal mine slides down the side of a mountain and onto a school (see page 76), killing 144 people, most of them schoolchildren. While Prince Philip and Lord Snowdon visited the site immediately afterwards, the Queen was absent for eight days, with the government using it as an excuse to distract from their own challenges.
CROWNING MOMENT: Prince Philip challenging the monarchy’s tradition of keeping a stiff upper lip after visiting the disaster site.
Faced with extreme pressure, the royal family decide to make a fly-on-the-wall documentary, after Philip jokes in a TV interview that they will have to sell their royal possessions and “may have to move into smaller premises” or “give up polo” to stay afloat. This episode also sees the introduction of Philip’s mother, Princess Alice, who comes to stay at Buckingham Palace following a coup in Greece.
CROWNING MOMENT: Princess Alice turns out to be one of the most fascinating characters in the royal family (see page 56).
Lord Mountbatten plots to remove PM Harold Wilson from his post, and the Queen imagines what life might have been like as she travels with friend Lord Porchesterto pursue improvements in her racehorse management, leaving the Queen Mother to act as regent.
CROWNING MOMENT: A lighter side to the Queen is revealed as she gets to indulge in her true love.
Prince Charles is sent to Wales to learn the language before his formal investiture as the Prince of Wales, amid renewed Welsh nationalism. He’s met with angry protests and a language tutor who is a staunch believer that the royal family doesn’t belong in Wales. When Charles gives his speech and makes a correlation between the monarchy’s lack of interest in Wales and his family’s lack of interest in him, the tense relationship between Charles and his mother becomes apparent.
CROWNING MOMENT: A tense exchange between the Queen and Prince Charles lays bare a frosty relationship.
Amid the Apollo 11 moon landing, Philip faces a midlife crisis over the purpose of his life. Meanwhile, the Dean of Windsor Robin Woods has been sent to shake up the royal parish and finds that it’s Philip, not Her Majesty, who is most in need of spiritual guidance. Meanwhile, the royal palace –and Philip – is gripped by space fever as the astronauts visit Buckingham Palace.
CROWNING MOMENT: Philip’s cantankerous perspective is changed as he and Robin Woods become friends, exposing a much deeper, more sensitive side to the Duke of Edinburgh.
Charles and Camilla’s relationship heats up as he beginsto confess his feelings for her. The Queen has a new prime minister, Edward Health, and the Duke of Windsor returns to the royal fold with a visit from Queen Elizabeth as his health deteriorates.
CROWNING MOMENT: Prince Charles and Andrew Parker Bowles’ rivalry is played out on the polo field, as the commentator exclaims: “And Andrew Parker Bowles scores!”
Charles and Camilla’s relationship comes under scrutiny from the royal family, as they conspire to break up the couple.Meanwhile, a government stalemate with mineworkers leads to nationwide power cuts, and the Queen’s relationship with her prime minister reaches a new low point.
CROWNING MOMENT: “You don’t love a girl like Camilla Shand, she’s a bit of fun,” says Prince Philip as he and the Queen discuss Charles’ feelings for Camilla.
CRI DE COEUR
As her marriage disintegrates amid rumours her husband is carrying on an indiscreet affair, Princess Margaret finds comfort in
the arms of another …and eventually finds herself in the midst of a tabloid scandal as her affair is splashed over the papers.
The Queen, meanwhile, marks her 25th anniversary as monarch while questioning how well she’scarried out her role.
CROWNING MOMENT: “And do you have nimble, as well as pretty fingers?” asks a very forward Princess Margaret, as she propositions Roddy Llewellyn while they’re shopping for swimming trunks, shortly after meeting in Scotland.
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