The start of the second season of The Crown is merely a few days away from us and by now we have watched the trailers multiple times to get us ready for it.
The undeniable star of the show is, of course, Claire Foy and her performance of the longest reigning monarch in British history. However, The Crown is not all about the Queen; it is also about her family members. As we have seen in season one, Prince Philip (Matt Smith) is struggling, particularly in his wife’s shadow, and in order to settle more he was sent away to Australia to initially open the Olympic Games, which was then extended to a royal tour through the Commonwealth countries. Though the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) was left heartbroken at the end of the ten episodes, as she was forbidden to marry Peter Townsend.
It is right there where the second season picks up, as Vanessa Kirby and Matt Smith have revealed in an interview with Variety.
“The family explodes out of the palace: Philip’s out on tour and Margaret suddenly gets into a reality of London that she’s never experienced before. It’s not a fairy tale love story. She’s actually meeting somebody when she’s still extremely wounded and so is he, as we later discover,” Kirby says.
“Matthew Goode [who will play Antony Armstrong-Jones or Lord Snowden] is incredible. He encapsulated everything Margaret was trying to discover in season one, which was anti-establishment, anti-royal [and] made her feel — at least temporarily — more complete.”
Kirby also explains that the challenging part of portraying Princess Margaret is because the princess is “part of this old establishment” and “so essentially royal,” while she also wants to be a modern and normal woman.
“It’s more about how Margaret is wrestling with remaining part of her family and not having a choice of the way she wants to live her life — the man and the children she would have had. She’s attempting to define herself in contrary to it. That’s why she finds someone very distinctly unroyal, that’s not approved by the establishment, that’s not aristocratic. She finds her salvation in [Snowdon], who is the antithesis of her life and past.”
Snowdon will play an important part in the life of Margaret, as we have seen in history and which we will witness on the show. The actress explains that he is giving her a “sense of place in the world” and adds: “Her autonomy to meet someone who was her wingman and someone she could confide in and love and walk down the aisle with [was] something she’d always been waiting to do.”
Though Margaret will not be the only one struggling this upcoming season as Prince Philip will continue to do so, as Matt Smith explains and it is that complexity of the character that Smith enjoys playing.
“I’m always really compelled by the deep conflict in Philip,” Smith says, citing “his duty to himself as a man” first. “He’s a very male character, whatever that means nowadays, and his duty to his wife and the strange conflict it generates in him: the desire to be the head of the family and being usurped. They’re weirdly similar in that way, Philip and Margaret, they wanted their own wings but they were constantly being clipped.”
“When Philip says, ‘You’ve taken my name, you’ve taken my home,’ that’s what every woman says. It was quite amazing to see a series where a man says that,” Kirby additionally points out.
Matt Smith also points out once more that the royal family is viewed differently by the public as opposed to what they are actually like behind closed doors, something The Crown acknowledges.
“They’re often most interesting when they’re being domestic. That’s what’s good about the show: you come to understand they’re normal human beings — their blood isn’t blue, contrary to popular opinion,” Smith explains.
In the next season, we will also get to know the characters more through flashbacks, particularly Prince Philip, whose backstory we haven’t discovered yet in the show.
“We glimpse the difficulty and the pain and tragedy he [Prince Philip] went through and we see why he is the way he is now. We see the sardonic, dry wit and where it comes from; it’s borne out of pain,” the actor explains and goes into this in more detail in an earlier interview.
The characters don’t just struggle individually though; Philip and Elizabeth especially continue to struggle in their marriage. It is the particular difference between being man and wife versus being Queen and royal subject that is still sparking this struggle.
“There’s a scene in season two where Philip and Elizabeth have an argument about where Charles should go to school. He says, ‘You can’t keep falling back on what the royal family needs, what about what I need?’ And I like the fact that Philip’s needy! He’s a needy man but he’s also a really male man. He needs her attention,” Smith says.
What exactly happens when Elizabeth doesn’t give her husband the attention that he needs will obviously add to their marriage problems and we will be exploring that on December 8 when the second season of The Crown will be released on Netflix.