Gillian Anderson Will Star as Margaret Thatcher in 'The Crown'

Ruby Buddemeyer, Kayleigh Roberts
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Marie Claire

When The Crown returns for season three, a lot will be different. The Netflix drama about the lives of the British royal family will move forward with new characters and a new decade. Here's what we know so far about the show's third season.

Release Date

Nearly a full year after the second season of the hit series, Netflix announced that season three of The Crown will be available for streaming on November 17.


The biggest news surrounding The Crown's third season is definitely the cast. Fans have known for a long time that the plan was to recast the roles as the characters aged.

"After two seasons, that's it, I'm gone," Claire Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth in the first two seasons, told Vulture in 2016. "They're getting rid of all of us. I don't [know] how they're planning on doing it, but they're such an incredible bunch of directors and producers that it's gonna be different and exciting." Now, the time has come to recast. Here are the actors taking over the main roles on The Crown:

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth:

Broadchurch star Olivia Colman is set to replace Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth in season three. Netflix took to Twitter in July to release the first photo of Colman in character.

Photo credit: Netflix

Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret:

Helena Bonham Carter will replace Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. "I'm not sure which I'm more terrified about—doing justice to the real Princess Margaret or following in the shoes of Vanessa Kirby's Princess Margaret," Bonham Carter said when she announced her role. Just days after the first photo of Colman as Queen Elizabeth was released,Netflix dropped a glimpse of Bonham Carter in character.

Photo credit: Netflix

Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip:

Early reports had Paul Bettany in discussions for the role, but he has since bowed out, and been replaced by Tobias Menzies. Menzies is famous for his roles on Outlander and Game of Thrones, and his casting as Prince Philip is sure to have fans excited. Netflix confirmed his casting in March 2018.

But Menzies won't get any tips from Matt Smith, who played Prince Philip in the first two seasons. "I wouldn’t give them any advice just like I didn’t give Peter Capaldi advice [when he took over as Doctor Who]," Smith told Newsweek. "They’ll find someone brilliant who’ll approach it with their own thought processes and personality."

Photo credit: Netflix

Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles:

Netflix announced in late July that Josh O'Connor will be playing Prince Charles in season three. "Seasons three and four will follow some of the most turbulent events in the Prince of Wales' life and our national story and I'm excited...I'm reliably informed I have the ears for the part and will fit right in," O'Connor said of the news.

Photo credit: Netflix

Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother:

Marion Bailey is set to play Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. "We have a tough act to follow but what a gift to be playing the fascinating and greatly loved Queen Mother," she announced on Twitter.

Photo credit: Netflix

Erin Doherty as Princess Anne:

Alongside the casting announcements of Prince Charles and the Queen Mother, Netflix confirmed in July that Erin Doherty will play the role of Princess Anne. "To be a part of the crown feels both ridiculously special and surreal. There is such a rare dynamic within Princess Anne that I am incredibly grateful to be able to explore," she explained.

Photo credit: Netflix

Emerald Fennell as Camilla Shand

On October 23, Netflix revealed that Emerald Fennell (Call the Midwife) will appear in The Crown's third season as Camilla Shand, the future Duchess of Cornwall. Fennell approached the announcement with a sense of humor, and a dig on a hairstyle:

Photo credit: Netflix

Emma Corrin as Lady Diana Spencer

Emma Corrin will also be making an appearance in this season of the royal drama as a young Lady Diana Spencer. Netflix announced that the dramatic Prince Charles/Princess Diana/Camilla saga will take shape within the fourth season of The Crown.

Photo credit: Twitter

Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher

Following in the footsteps of Meryl Streep, Gillian Anderson is set to take on the role of the formidable Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The 50-year-old actress’ has previously appeared in huge hits like The X-Files and The Fall or, more recently, Sex Education. The Iron Lady didn't rise to power as Britain's first female PM until 1979 but, according to the Sunday Times, will appear in the third and fourth season of The Crown.

Photo credit: Getty Images


Season two left off with the birth of Prince Edward in 1964. The Crown's third season will cover at least the years 1964 to 1976, according to Variety. The Sunday Times reports that the third season will take place in "the Wilson era"—meaning Harold Wilson's time as prime minister, from 1964 to 1970 and then again from 1974 to 1976. Season three will also cover Princess Margaret's divorce from the Earl of Snowdon.

"We’re now writing season three," The Crown's history consultant Robert Lacey told Town & Country in Decemeber 2017. "And in season three, without giving anything away—it’s on the record, it’s history—we’ll see the breakup of this extraordinary marriage between Margaret and Snowdon. [In the second season], you see how it starts, and what a strange character, a brilliant character Snowden was."

As for Charles and Diana, don't expect to meet the late Princess of Wales early in the season—she'll reportedly make her debut at the end of season three and play a big part in season four. Since Charles and Diana didn't meet until 1977, if reports about Diana debuting at the end of the season are true, the show will extend past the Wilson Era.


As of July, the third season is officially in production and is expected to premiere in 2019. Seasons three and four will be filmed back-to-back, which will hopefully make for a shorter wait for season four. "We're doing them back-to-back. I’m writing them all at the moment," showrunner Peter Morgan shared during a BAFTA Masterclass in February.

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