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The success of Netflix’s The Crown lies, in part, in its ornate costumes and elaborate (and accurate!) set design—the palaces, castles, and rolling European landscapes are stunning. We’d expect nothing less from a series that reportedly took a record-breaking $130 million to produce. But equally important, the casting is brilliant. If you’ve watched, then you’ve probably Googled one or two of the lesser-known characters already (because you need to know what Antony Armstrong-Jones looked like in real life). Here, we’ve got all the main players in The Crown and their real-life counterparts.
Queen Elizabeth II (Seasons 3-4)
After two seasons, Claire Foy is handing the role of Queen Elizabeth off to British actress Olivia Colman. Netflix has already released a few images of the new Queen ahead of the third season’s November 2019 premiere and we see a striking resemblance. The queen was born April, 21 1926. At the age of 25 she became queen, and was coronated on June 2, 1953, only 16 years after her father’s coronation. The ceremony, held at Westminster Abbey, was the first of its kind to be televised. To this day, the Queen stands as the longest reigning monarch in history (65 years and counting), and she is known for adapting the British monarchy to fit the ever-changing modern world.
Queen Elizabeth II (Seasons 1-2)
Queen Elizabeth was played by English actor Claire Foy for seasons 1 and 2.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Seasons 3-4)
Outlander star Tobias Menzies will take on the role of Prince Philip from Matt Smith for the next two seasons of the show. The now 98-year-old husband of the Queen was the Prince of Greece and Denmark prior to their marriage. They were children when they met and Philip’s uncle, “Dickie,” played a large role in the matchmaking. Despite Philip’s title, the marriage was considered controversial for many reasons; one being that he was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church, but the more pressing issues were his family’s German relations, and that his “home life” was in shambles. With his mother institutionalized and his father, a known philanderer, absent, Philip became very close with his older sister Cécile. Sadly, she and her children died in a plane crash when Philip was 16. Interestingly enough, Philip and the Queen are second cousins once removed.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Seasons 1-2)
English actor Matt Smith played the uncompromisingly bold Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for seasons 1 and 2.
The Queen Mother (Seasons 3-4)
Marion Bailey was pegged to play the Queen Mother for seasons 3 and 4, which are being filmed back to back. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother, was a supportive matriarch and a popular and active fixture in the royal family. Born in 1900, she was one of ten children. During WWI, the Queen Mother was a teenager, and took a proactive role in running Glamis Castle, her family home in Scotland, as a recovery center for wounded soldiers. As a strong willed woman she turned down Prince Albert’s (the future King George VI) proposals twice before accepting. They married on April 26, 1923. During their 29-year marriage, the couple had two children, the present queen and her younger sister, Princess Margaret. Duty was important to the Queen Mother. During WWII She and her family notably refused to leave London during The Blitz. She was active in her royal duties until her death in 2002 (just weeks after Princess Margaret died) at 101 years old.
The Queen Mother (Seasons 1-2)
The Queen Mother was played by English actress Victoria Hamilton for seasons 1 and 2.
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (Seasons 3-4)
Helena Bonham Carter was cast to play Princess Margaret in the new season of the Netflix series. Early images of Carter portraying the Princess show that she’s more than fit to fill her shoes. Princess Margaret, later the Countess of Snowdon, was born August 21, 1930, and was the younger sister and only sibling of the Queen. Not living under the pressure of “the crown,” Margaret lived a less structured life and enjoyed socializing. At 17, she fell in love with her father’s equerry, Group Captain Peter Townsend—he was 16 years her senior, and divorced his wife to marry her. In 1953 he proposed, but after much back and forth the relationship was considered unfit by the Church of England and Margaret’s sister, the queen. Margaret eventually married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in a televised wedding ceremony that had over 300 million viewers. The couple had two children, Lady Sarah Chatto and David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon. Their marriage ended in 1978, making Margaret one of few royals to get divorced—but she and Snowdon remained friends. In February 2002, at age 71, Margaret died of a stroke.
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (Seasons 1-2)
Princess Margaret was played by English actress Vanessa Kirby in seasons 1 and 2 of The Crown.
Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon (Seasons 3-4)
Ben Daniels will take on the role of Armstrong-Jones to tackle his character’s immense complexities in seasons 3 and 4. Showrunner Peter Morgan has said that the newest season will focus on the breakdown of his and Princess Margaret’s marriage. Snowdon worked as a filmmaker and photographer, shooting society portraits, fashion, and documentary photography. Over 100 of Snowdon’s photographs can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery. Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret became engaged in 1960, however adultery and alcohol were a constant part of the couple’s relationship, which was noticeably strained early on. After 16 years of marriage, they divorced 1978. He married Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg in December of 1978, and the couple had a daughter. This relationship was also tested and the couple divorced in 2000. Lord Snowdon died on January 13, 2017, at the age of 86.
Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon (Season 3)
English actor Matthew William Goode plays Antony Armstrong-Jones, later known as the Earl of Snowdon. (You may recognize Goode from his role as Lady Mary’s last love interest in Downton Abbey.)
Charles, Prince of Wales (Seasons 3-4)
Josh O’Connor will pick up the role of Prince Charles in the upcoming season. The next two seasons are said to focus on Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, his engagement to Princess Diana, and his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969. The first of the Queen’s four children and the heir apparent was born on November 14, 1948. We get a glimpse into his childhood late in season 2 when he began attending Gordonstoun, the school his father attended in northeast Scotland. Known for its rigorous “character-building” methods, Gordonstoun proved difficult for the shy prince. He later attended Trinity College, and after entered the Royal Navy for five years. In 1981, he married Lady Diana Spencer, better known as Princess Diana. Her popularity was unparalleled, but the relationship was strained by adultery, and eventually the couple divorced in 1996. A year later on August 31, 1997, Princess Diana died in a car accident. Their two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, were 15 and 12 respectively. Charles remarried to his longtime companion Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.
Charles, Prince of Wales (Seasons 1-2)
Prince Charles was played by Julian Baring in the early seasons of The Crown.
Anne, Princess Royal
Erin Doherty will take on the role of a young Princess Anne in seasons 3 and 4 of The Crown. Although we didn’t see much from the Princess Royal in past seasons, she was known as one of the hardest working royals and her 1973 wedding to Captain Mark Phillips was a royal affair.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
The new season of The Crown will introduce the relationship between Camilla Parker Bowles (played by Emerald Fennell) and Prince Charles. “I absolutely love Camilla, and am very grateful that my teenage years have well prepared me for playing a chain-smoking serial snogger with a pudding bowl haircut,” Fennel said in a statement.
Diana, Princess of Wales
After not being allowed to marry Camilla, Prince Charles courted the young school teacher, Diana Spencer. The couple would marry in 1981 and have two sons. Season 4 of The Crown will follow their engagement and early years of marriage as Emma Corrin steps in to portray the People’s Princess.
Conservative politician Margaret Thatcher will make her debut in the series in Season 4, and will be played by Gillian Anderson. The “Iron Lady,” as she was called, was Prime Minister from 1979 until 1990 and the first woman to hold the office.
Sir Winston Churchill
American actor John Lithgow played the legendary prime minister Winston Churchill. Churchill became Prime Minister when he was 65 and served for a total of nine years, from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. In 1953, Churchill received the Nobel Price in Literature, but he was best known for his leadership during WWII. During his time in office, his mental and physical health were tested. He suffered prolonged bouts of depression, a heart attack in 1941, and a serious stroke in 1953 that left him no choice but to retire in April of 1955, at 75 years old. The first season of The Crown gives a glimpse into Churchill’s 56-year marriage to Clementine Hozier—the couple had five children. In 1965, at 90 years old, Churchill died from a stroke.
King George VI
English actor Jared Harris made few appearances as King George VI. George VI became King on December 11th, 1936, after his older brother, Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor, abdicated the throne. His struggle with the public side of his new role was told in the 2010 movie The King’s Speech, where he was played by Colin Firth. King George VI’s 16-year reign ended on February 6, 1952 at the age of 56, when he died of lung cancer.
David, Duke of Windsor
Alex Jennings plays the Queen’s uncle, the Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII). The former king abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry American socialite and divorcee Wallis Simpson. Despite his short reign (326 days), damage was done. It was discovered that during his time as king, and the months after his abdication, the Duke had been in contact with Nazi high command during and after leaving the throne. The Duke of Windsor died on May 28, 1972.
Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
Wallis Simpson, played by English actress Lia Williams, was an American socialite and the wife of the former King Edward VIII. With two living ex-husbands (she was married a total of three times), her relationship with the King caused a constitutional crisis. Edward abdicated the throne because of his church and country’s inability to accept their relationship. The two lived a life of leisure and luxury, and were later ostracized by the royal family due to their ties with the Nazis. Simpson died on April 24, 1986.
Queen Mary of Teck
The matriarch of the Windsor family, Queen Mary of Teck, appeared in the first season of The Crown. The Queen consort passed away in 1953, but served as a mentor to Queen Elizabeth II during her first year as monarch.
Peter Townsend, played by English actor Ben Miles, was the Equerry to King George VI and for Queen Elizabeth from 1944 to 1952. Prior to his life with the royals, Townsend was in the Royal Air Force. He was married with two sons when his relationship with Princess Margaret began. At 44, after his proposal to Princess Margaret fell through, Townsend married a 20-year-old Belgian woman who may or may not have resembled the Princess. The couple had three children. Townsend died in 1995 from stomach cancer at 80.
Clementine Churchill, Baroness Spencer-Churchill
Clementine Spencer-Churchill remained by her husband’s side through his multiple terms as Prime Minister, as depicted throughout season 1 of The Crown by actress Harriet Walter. Clementine, or Clemmie, and Winston were married in 1908 and had a very loving relationship that lasted until Winston passed away in 1965.
Anthony Eden, The Earl of Avon
Anthony Eden, The Earl of Avon, played by English actor Jeremy Northam, became the Prime Minister after Winston Churchill stepped down in April of 1955. He came from a well-known family active in the military. Prior to his brief time as Prime Minister, Eden served in WWI, and three periods as the foreign secretary. Having lost two brothers in the war he was very anti-war. Unlike any other prime minister Eden was known for being well dressed, and he even has a hat named after him. Eden’s popularity quickly dwindled following the Suez Crisis in Egypt, and with accusations of collusion, and ill health he (forcibly) resigned after 18 months, in January of 1957. In his retirement, he went on speaking tours, bred cattle, and was Chancellor of the University of Birmingham until 1973. Six years later he died from liver cancer at age 79.
Harold Macmillan, The Earl of Stockton
Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was played by English actor Anton Lesser. Macmillan came from a publishing family and attended Oxford. After his service in WWI, he became a politician in 1924. He took over after Eden’s resignation in January of 1957, and was able to restore Britain’s relationship with the U.S. Macmillan’s second term was laced with scandal. Although he was able to keep his wife Lady Dorothy Macmillan’s affair with conservative politician Robert Boothby out of the press, what became known as the Profumo Scandal was too much for Macmillan to handle. The press around the affair between a Russian diplomat, Christine Keeler (a 19-year-old showgirl), and minister John Profumo, in addition to Macmillan’s health was detrimental. Against the Queen’s wishes, Macmillan resigned in October of 1963. He spent the rest of his years as the chairman of Macmillan Publishers and died on December 29, 1986.
Lady Dorothy Macmillan
Dorothy, played by Sylvestra Le Touzel, was the wife of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. It was her relationship with another gentleman that drove most of her plot lines in season 2 of The Crown and captured the public’s intrigue. Her long-term affair with Robert Boothby was said to have been known by her political husband and lasted for most of her 46-year marriage.
Michael Adeane, Baron Adeane
The Queen’s private secretary, Michael Adeane, is played by English actor Will Keen. For the first 20 years of the Queen’s reign, Adeane’s job was to inform her on all upcoming matters, personal, political, and everything in-between. Dealing with the press was a large part of his role, and with a sister like Princess Margaret and husband like Prince Philip, this task was not an easy one. Adeane was not the first in his family to serve a monarch. His maternal grandfather was the Private Secretary to Queen Victoria and King George V, and his son served as Prince Charles’ Private Secretary from 1979 to 1985.
Martin Charteris, Baron Charteris of Amisfield
Martin Charteris, played by Harry Hadden-Paton, was educated at Eton and worked as the private secretary to Queen Elizabeth when she was merely a Princess. After the death of her father, Charteris moved to her Buckingham Palace team and worked as her assistant private secretary alongside Sir Michael Adeane. Charteris remained remarkably close to and trusted by the Queen throughout his time at the palace, and even in retirement.
After serving three British monarchs—George V, Edward VIII, and George VI—Alan “Tommy” Lascelles (played by Pip Torrens) was a pillar of support for the newly minted Queen and served as her private secretary until his retirement a year later.
Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl of Burma (Seasons 1-2)
Louis Mountbatten was a naval officer and the former Viceroy of India. Played by Greg Wise in the first two seasons of the Netflix show, Mountbatten is the uncle of Prince Philip and had a close relationship with Prince Charles until his assassination in 1979 by the Provisional IRA. In 2018, Prince William offered a touching sentiment to his late great-uncle, naming his third child and newborn son, Louis.
Lieutenant-Commander Mike Parker
Mike Parker, played by Daniel Ings, is featured throughout the first two seasons of The Crown. As equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as his close friend, Parker joined Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth on their royal tours and visits. However, when his wife Eileen divorced him citing “adultery,” he was forced to resign.
Eileen Parker, played by Chloe Pirrie, was not prepared for the attention that would come with divorcing the Duke’s private equerry. In 1958, she was granted a divorce based on evidence of adultery during the Duke’s royal tour.
Artist and photographer Cecil Beaton, was portrayed in season 2 by actor Mark Tandy. He is the creative behind Princess Margaret’s iconic birthday portrait. Beaton’s work is still renowned today.
In season 2, The Crown shines a light upon journalist Lord Altrincham, who was played by John Heffernan. The writer caused controversy in the early ’60s for his critical essays of the Queen. In a private meeting, Lord Altrincham offered advice to the palace that was eventually incorporated by the royals as they adjusted to a rapidly modernizing era.
President John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy, played by Michael C. Hall, was portrayed as a bit of a bully who was insecure about his wife’s spotlight on their European tour. The episode “Dear Mrs. Kennedy” in season 2 takes a peek at the iconic couple’s closed door relationship and follows the duo up to the President’s assassination.
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy
The ever-glamorous Jackie Kennedy visited Buckingham Palace in 1961 and was portrayed by Jodi Balfour in season 2. The meeting of the First Lady and the Queen was highly covered by the press, but the two did not appear to be steadfast friends. Jackie is said to have criticized the Queen’s style, as well as the palace.
Reverend Billy Graham
Billy Graham, a reverend from North Carolina, rose to prominence in the ’60s after he began broadcasting his sermons across the country and eventually internationally. Paul Sparks portrays the figure who, while touring the United Kingdom, was invited to an informal meeting with the Queen, who had become a fan of his work.
Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark
In season 2 of The Crown, fans get a peak at the tragic upbringing of Prince Philip in the episode “Paterfamilias,” as well as his especially close relationship with his older sister, Princess Cecilie. Cecilie, who was played by Leonie Benesch, was killed when her plane crashed while traveling to London from Germany with her children, husband, and mother-in-law.
The former girlfriend of Antony Armstrong-Jones, actress Jacqui Chan, is played by Alice Hewkin in season 2 of The Crown. Born in Trinidad, Chan rose to fame in the London play “The World of Suzie Wong.” She and Armstrong-Jones were involved up until he met Princess Margaret and the actress was even in attendance at their royal wedding in 1960.
Trooper, the Pug
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived out their familial exile in France where they were known as extravagant hosts and entertainers. Although the couple had no children together, they had a large brood of dogs, specifically pugs. Trooper was one of the couple’s many beloved pugs and one that The Crown showcased in the episode “Vergangenheit.”