As The Crown moves into the 1960s with a new cast, brilliance and surprises are in excellent supply. Here are the top nine things we learnt from season 3:

  • Artfully mining the humanity within the history, this beautifully crafted drama series has the power to turn a committed Republican into a Monarchist, as it did for its creator-writer, Peter Morgan. Even if the conversion isn’t that radical, it encourages viewers to understand the spirit-crushing constraints that can buffet those who are born into a life of wealth and privilege.
  • The new cast shines. Unsurprisingly, as she’s reliably excellent, Olivia Colman is superb as the Queen. Claire Foy is a hard act to follow and Colman is playing HRH at a tougher time: Elizabeth is now a middle-aged mother of four, sometimes feeling dowdy and occasionally glimpsing, with regret, the kind of life she might’ve led if duty hadn’t called. Tobias Menzies is also terrific as Prince Phillip, embodying a proud, sometimes cold and complex man who struggles with a subservient role but still tries to assert his position as the head of a family. Helena Bonham Carter dazzles as Margaret, evoking a sharp-minded, frustrated, volatile, entitled woman who can shine when required. And Erin Doherty is a revelation as a strong and shrewd Princess Anne.
Royal flush: Olivia Coleman (centre) and Tobias Menzies in season 3 of The Crown.

Royal flush: Olivia Coleman (centre) and Tobias Menzies in season 3 of The Crown.Credit:Netflix

  • For all its opulence, the series’ defining image is one of isolation. The Queen is perpetually surrounded by people and obligations. Yet the series’ dominant visual motif sees her sitting or standing alone in a vast room, framed by massive palace windows: staring out at a trusted advisor who has betrayed her; contemplating her limelight-loving sister; mulling over a decision that she’s made, or one that needs to be made. The image emphasises both the grandeur and the solitary nature of her position.

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