Note: The Crown spoilers below. Read at your own risk.
The Queen would rather ride horse. Princess Margaret would rather be queen. Prince Philip just wants to fly, or go to the moon. And Prince Charles would like to act. The winter of their discontent is alive and fuming on the new season of “The Crown,” Netflix’s sweeping drama about Queen Elizabeth and the many stages of her life.
In the 10 new episodes, which Netflix dropped on Sunday, a malaise seems to fallen over the Royal Family in 60s/70s era London. No one wants to be doing what they are doing, apparently. The Queen, played by recent Oscar winner Olivia Colman (for a monarch in “The Favourite” fittingly), opens the new season by seeing a blown up image of herself on a stamp, next to a younger photo. Now middle aged, with four children, unhappy husband and impetuous sister (played by the sublime Helena Bonham Carter), the Queen grapples with the dusk of the British empire: finances in ruin, social unrest, the death of Winston Churchill and waning influence across the globe.
Princess Margaret continues her descent into boozed-soused madness throughout season 3, but there are bright spots. In one of the more memorable episodes, she’s sent to The White House to charm President Johnson into giving the UK a financial bail out, and seals the deal over drinking games, dirty limericks, dancing and throwing shade at JFK (“I met him once,” Margaret says. “I was distinctly underwhelmed.”) Though the details are now being challenged by historians, it’s too fun to care if it’s actually true.
Finally, the new episodes also lay seeds for what will be a major storyline for coming seasons: lovelorn Prince Charles (an excellent Josh O’Connor), whose romance with Camilla is quashed by the Royal Family (and we all know where that led …)