The British History To Know Before Watching The Crown Season 2

It’s time to plaster on your most agreeable smile, as the return of The Crown is hours away. The beautiful Netflix drama, which follows the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s (Claire Foy) rule, will premiere its second season on Friday, December 8. As with the period piece’s freshman year, The Crown 2.0 will give us a lush look at Elizabeth’s younger years, albeit through a made-for-TV lens. After all, someone as willfully private as the real-life Elizabeth isn’t going to spill her marital problems and familial tensions to us plebs.

Still, we can expect to see many based-on-true-events moments in the upcoming season of the British series. The trailer alone promises we’ll see John F. Kennedy (Michael C. Hall) and Jacqueline Kennedy (Jodi Balfour) visit Buckingham Palace, and Elizabeth’s husband Philip (Matt Smith) venture out into the world. On top of all that, there’s clearly mounting political tension overcoming England.

These points are bound to have viewers asking, “Wait, did this really happen… or is it all for TV?” To help keep you from taking your eyes off the screen to answer your biggest truth-or-fiction questions, we laid out the real historical facts hiding beneath the theatrics of The Crown. And, wow, is there a lot of drama in there.

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Philip’s Overseas Adventure

While watching the trailer, you can hear Elizabeth demanding an end to her husband Philip’s “restlessness.” Before that, we see the royal consort on a ship in the middle of a lush paradise, pensively looking into the ocean on a ship, and staring admiringly at a group of women of color, who are apparently dancing for him on a beach. A lot of the time, Philip has a beard. As anyone who has watched The Crown knows, none of this sounds like the straight-laced, vaguely gray London we’ve come to expect from the drama.

And, that’s because it’s not. Between 1956 and 1957, the then-Duke traveled the world aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia on a vast international tour. During that time, he opened the Olympics in Australia and visited Antarctica, becoming the first royal family member to cross the Antarctic Circle, as the Telegraph explains. During that four-month international tour, he also traveled to Gambia and Malaya.

During this time, multiple British newspapers claim, there were rumors of a “rift” in the royal marriage. The speculation wasn’t helped by the fact Philip’s secretary Mike Parker was divorced by his wife during the lengthy voyage.
Queen Elizabeth’s Trip To Ghana

Prince Philip isn’t the only person in his marriage who took to traveling. Queen Elizabeth toured former British colony Ghana in 1961. She arrived just four years after the nation won independence from Britain and famously danced with new leader Kwame Nkrumah.

Eagle-eyed viewers will spot the flag of Ghana during one point in the the trailer, which is followed by Elizabeth meeting a dashing unknown man who resembles to the real-life Nkrumah. Considering all of these details, and the photo evidence supplied directly from Netflix, it’s far to say viewers will witness the famed moment during season 2.
JFK & Jackie

1961 was a big year for Queen Elizabeth. She hosted then-president John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy in London. It has been highly publicized that fans will see that infamous meeting in The Crown season 2. However, it’s less highly publicized how dramatic the true-life event apparently was.

The First Lady requested the attendance of her sister Princess Lee Radziwill (very much a by-marriage relation to Real Housewives Of New York’s Carole Radziwill) and her brother-in-law Prince Stanislas Radziwill of Poland. Both were divorcees at the time, and the royal family was forced to relent on their usual rules about inviting the divorced to State dinners. The loophole was the evening was a simple banquet, rather than an official government dinner.

To gain revenge on the First Lady for her non-traditional demands, Elizabeth supposedly kept Princess Margaret and Princess Marina off the guest list, Kennedy friend Gore Vidal explained, according to Jackie O. biography America’s Queen by Sarah Bradford. The edgier, headline-making royals were the First Lady’s only specific requests other than her own family members.
Princess Margaret & “Tony”

A large portion of the season 2 trailer is dedicated to Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) and her latest romance. While the royal hoped to marry Peter Townsend (Ben Miles), the engagement was rejected by Elizabeth, as we see in season 1. So, this time around she finds herself in the arms of Antony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode), a photographer.

History tells us Margaret will actually make it down the aisle this time, although the relationship is far from charmed. The couple had a famously contentious marriage and would end up giving the world its first royal divorce since 1540. As usual, infidelity speculation plagued the failed relationship, as both Armstrong-Jones, who became Lord Snowdon after his wedding, and Princess Margaret were rumored to be unfaithful.
The Suez Canal Crisis

We know this international crisis will be one of the biggest challenges of The Crown season 2, as the Netflix drama’s season 1 finale, “Gloriana,” dedicated one of its very last scenes to the mounting tension in Egypt, where the Suez is located. The 1950s Cold War catastrophe threatened diplomatic relationships between Great Britain, the United States Of America, France, and Israel.