As anyone who watches The Crown knows, there’s a relatively significant time-jump between each season of 10 years.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much make-up can do to age-up actors, meaning for the third and fourth seasons Claire Foy, Matt Smith, and the cast must be replaced.
Olivia Colman has already been confirmed to play Queen Elizabeth II, while Helen Bonham Carter is widely expected to replace Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret.
Paul Bettany was believed to be ‘in talks’ with Netflix about playing Prince Phillip, taking over from former the Doctor Who actor Smith.
Those talks have since fallen flat, as the actor — who will next appear in Marvel blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War — was reportedly unable to commit to the eight months a year filming required by the project.
Along with Prince Phillip, still to be cast are the Queen Mother (previously played by Victoria Hamilton) and Margaret's husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode).
Season three will also see the introduction of two major new characters: Princess Diana — who will then be featured heavily in the fourth and as-yet-unconfirmed fifth seasons — along with Camilla Parker Bowles.
"You start meeting Camilla Parker Bowles in season three,” producer Suzanne Mackie said recently. "We have to be honest, season three and four are being mapped out and the closer the history comes — I now can say, 'God, I know exactly what I was feeling when that happened, I remember that and I remember this.' That's so exciting!"
The Sunday Times reported that Diana, alongside Margaret Thatcher, will be the focus of season four, while season three will focus on era marked by the terms of Prime Minister Howard Wilson (1964-1970 and 1974-1976).
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Showrunner Peter Morgan has confirmed that the new season will start shortly after where the second ended, as happened before; our last glimpse was of the birth of Elizabeth and Philip's fourth child, Prince Edward, in 1964.
Netflix had previously confirmed that The Crown has been renewed for season three and four, though content chief Ted Sarandos has stated the plan is for the show to run a total of six seasons, reaching up to the present day.
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