While British historians are currently feverishly Googling "What is Suits?" in the wake of the momentous news that actress Meghan Markle will wed Prince Harry in May 2018, American television viewers are thirsty for a more finely aged royal tea, which the debut of The Crown's second season will undoubtedly serve.
The good news is we don't need to hack Netflix to find out what's likely coming down the pike for this version of the royal family (though we probably wouldn't turn down a chance to take a peek at those elusive ratings numbers); all we need to do is hop on over to Google and type "What happened in British history between 1956 and 1964" and voila: CROWN SECRETS. Eat your heart out, wannabe spies!
Here are some of the major events and outrageous scandals the Golden Globe-winning period drama might tackle in Season 2, premiering Friday, Dec. 8.
The Suez Crisis
So, I cheated. On the very first one! This is not a good look and I am very sorry, but the truth is this: we already know the second season kicks off with the Suez Crisis because the timing lines up and it would be impossible to tell the story of Queen Elizabeth II (portrayed in the series by Claire Foy) without tackling what would eventually, unfortunately, become a humiliating stain on Great Britain. Plus, showrunner Peter Morgan already confirmed the starting point of the season during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "Suez feels like a changing point for the country," he said. "Britain was never the same again after Suez."
For those unaware, the Suez Crisis was triggered in July 1956, when Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal, through which much of the oil on its way to Europe passed. Without spoiling too much (#jokes), the U.K.'s response involved an ill-conceived invasion of Egypt by Israel, aided by additional British and French forces. The objective was to restore control of the canal to the West, but the entire situation was condemned by other world leaders, including the United States. So, let's just say things did not work out well and Prime Minister Anthony Eden (Jeremy Northam) eventually resigned in disgrace.
(Also, did you know the British drama The Hour also took place during the Suez Crisis? The Hour was a very good show starring Ben Whishaw you probably should have watched, but since you didn't, was canceled in 2012. Now the only Suez content we have is The Crown.)
All the rumors of Philip's infidelity
The trailer for The Crown's new season indicates that a major focal point of the season will be the rumors of Prince Philip's (Matt Smith) infidelity. How scandalous! Here in America there have never been rumors and especially no confirmed reports of political leaders' infidelity, so this should make for brand new, prime storytelling drama!
All jokes aside, the rumors of Prince Philip's infidelity, specifically involving an affair with British actress and singer Pat Kirkwood, began while Elizabeth was eight months pregnant with Prince Charles. Kirkwood always maintained the rumors were just rumors, but they plagued her all her life. She is quoted as having complained when Philip would not release a statement regarding the rumors. "A lady is not normally expected to defend her honour," she'd said. "It is the gentleman who should do that. I would have had a happier and easier life if Prince Philip, instead of coming uninvited to my dressing room, had gone home to his pregnant wife on the night in question.'"
Yowza! Kirkwood seemed cool. RIP.
Although we're unsure if The Crown will tackle Pat Kirkwood specifically, rest assured that Prince Philip's six-month naval tour of the world while on his way to open the 1956 Olympic Games in Australia will provide ample opportunity to delve into the fickle hearts of royals.
The Profumo Affair
Someone who's never seen The Crown before might mistakenly believe the series is only interested in the really big moments of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, but that's not true. The first season saw an entire episode built around intense killer smog, so no, The Crown does not discriminate when it comes to its storytelling. This season, in that same vein, the show could easily tackle the Profumo Affair, which would definitely be a step up from the smog but still isn't very well known. Some viewers, especially in the U.S., likely have never heard of it.
The scandal is named for John Profumo, the secretary of state for war under Harold Macmillan's Conservative government. In 1961, Profumo had an affair with a model named Christine Keeler, who was also sleeping with a Soviet naval attache by the name of Yevgeny Ivanov. What this means is that what was initially seen as a sex scandal soon became a potential matter of national security. Of course, news of the affairs didn't reach the public until 1963, when Profumo denied the allegations before eventually admitting the truth a few weeks later. Understandably, this didn't reflect well on Profumo, Macmillan or the government. Macmillan resigned in October 1963 citing health reasons. Sure, buddy. Sure.
Princess Margaret's wedding to her hunky new beau
I will leave it up to you to decide if you think Matthew Goode, the man appearing as Princess Margaret's (Vanessa Kirby) second great love and eventual husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, is hunky or not. (For what it's worth, I personally think he's very hunky.) But honestly, that might be beside the point. What is important here is that Margaret's love life continues to be a matter of utmost importance to The Crown, which is absolutely the right call, and not just because I live for drama.
Princess Margaret wed Armstrong-Jones, a photographer, in 1960. At the time this was considered newsworthy because he was the first commoner to marry into the royal family in a very long time. Obviously this does not seem quite so newsworthy following Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton and Harry's upcoming nuptials to a biracial American actress, but just go with it, OK? It was important.
Unfortunately for Margaret but perhaps luckily for the writers of The Crown, the marriage would not last. It deteriorated after years of excessive partying and infidelity, which when combined with rumors of Armstrong-Jones' bisexuality and a bad habit of leaving lists of the things he hated about Margaret for her to find meant the end of their marriage. They divorced in 1978. Hopefully The Crown spends a lot of time on this in its future seasons.
The Kennedy's visit with the Queen
President Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy visited the U.K. in 1961. JFK will be portrayed by Michael C. Hall in The Crown. What many readers of this article might not know is that this was the first and only time Kennedy met Queen Elizabeth II on account the official state visit never happened because of the tragic events that occurred Nov. 22, 1963. However, in that first and only meeting, JFK gifted Elizabeth with a signed photograph of himself, something that some people might find weird but I find delightful. In fact, I will now adopt this custom (and just in time for the holidays).
His wife Jackie (portrayed by Jodi Balfour) will likely get a lot of airtime too — as one of Prince Philip's rumored hookups.
Other things that could potentially show up in the second season of The Crown but likely won't:
A storyline about the first parking meters in the U.K., which were installed 1958; a second episode about smog, which returned to threaten motorists in 1959; the 1960 Winter Olympics, although England did not win any medals; John le Carré publishing his first novel, which introduced George Smiley, in 1961; Beatlemania; the formation of the Rolling Stones; and the debut of Doctor Who.
(Come on, you've already got Matt Smith! It's a perfect tie-in).
The Crown premieres Friday, Dec. 8 on Netflix.