Despite the fact there's still quite a long time to go until The Crown releases Season 2 on the Netflix streaming service, we can't help but speculate which royal events the second instalment will fling into the limelight.
Focusing on a fascinating period of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, the show is expected to crank up the heat when it comes to conveying the political events and familial intrigues confronting the monarch in '50s Great Britain. Remind yourselves of what went down in Season 1:
As already depicted in #TheCrown, a number of notable real-life historical events occurred during Elizabeth's early days as Queen. Among many things, not only did we witness her marriage to the young Prince Philip (played by Matt Smith) and the death of her father George VI, but also the abdication of the Duke of Windsor and the crisis of the Great Smog in 1952.
With that being said, where could Season 2 take us in terms of memorable, stand-out events occurring in England at the time? What obstacles, foreign and homegrown crises will our young Queen come up against? Speaking to Vanity Fair in 2016, Claire Foy revealed the following:
"We literally pick up where we left off—in 1956. I think Peter’s taking [us up to] 63 or 64. We get into the 60s, and it is a whole other world happening."
In lieu of this, here's a list of potential suggestions from the time period that The Crown could focus on:
1. 'The Big Freeze'
When? February 24, 1955
Just a few years after the Great Smog drenched London in sky-high pollution levels, Queen Elizabeth II had to deal with another crisis — "The Big Freeze" of 1955. Deep snow and freezing temperatures plunged the country into a stage of chaos after essential supply routes were cut off and more than 70 roads were blocked nationwide.
The Royal Air Force were deployed to deliver food and medical provisions to the worst affected areas around Great Britain, with the entire fiasco unfolding before the young Queen's very eyes.
2. The Suez Canal Crisis Strikes
When? October to July, 1956
Largely seen as Great Britain's last stab at upholding it's widespread empire, the Suez Canal Crisis of the mid-'50s proved to be an unsettling threat to the Queen's sovereignty in the Middle East.
When the Egyptian president, Gamal Adbel Nasser, suddenly nationalized the canal — an important man-made waterway in the region — after failing to receive the necessary funds to build the Aswan Dam from the British and the French, it sparked a political crisis that heavily encroached on British trade interests.
Both Britain and France secretly planned to incite military action and found a ready ally in Israel, a government already incredibly hostile towards its neighbouring Egypt. On October 29, 1956, Israeli brigades invaded Egypt, allowing British and French forces to feign intervention, land their troops in Port Said and occupy the canal zone. Following U.S., USSR and domestic uproar however, Anglo-French presence was removed from the area by UN forces and Israeli troops were forced to withdraw later in March 1957. Years on, the Queen's private secretary would share Elizabeth's anxiety on the matter, saying:
"Suez was ... a matter which ... gave the Queen a great deal of concern. She was personally worried about it ... I think it was the basic dishonesty of the whole thing was a trouble."
As a result of the volatile episode, Britain lost the majority of its influence in the Middle East and it proved to be a fatal blow to the Queen's reputation, whose sovereignty became increasingly smothered under U.S. anti-royal interventions on the world stage.
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3. The Clean Air Act Is Passed
When? July 5, 1956
Turning back to domestic issues on British soil, by the mid-'50s pollution was posing an even bigger problem than the Great Smog of London in 1952. Considering over 4000 people died as a result of the dirty environment in that year alone, it was high time that new measures were put in place to prevent the free burning of coal in urban areas.
In 1956, the Clear Air Art was legislated by the British government as a direct response to the 1952 crisis.
4. The Rise Of Britain As A Nuclear Power
- When? May 15, 1957
In 1957, Britain followed in the footsteps of the Soviet Union and the United States by testing its first hydrogen bomb, a move classified as "Operation Grapple." While highlighting the nation as a military leader in terms of thermonuclear weapons, the detonations between 1956 and 1958 around the Central Pacific Ocean also sparked a number of heavy protests all over England.
In total, nine explosions occurred over this time period.
5. The Queen's First Televised Christmas Message
- When? December 25, 1957
Ever since contemporary Brits can remember, the Palace has broadcast a Christmas Day pre-recorded speech on December 25, echoing uplifting sentiments and much-needed messages of hope for the New Year. However, what many don't know is that this tradition only began in 1957, a year likely to be a focal point in Season 2 of The Crown.
6. The Queen's Many Prime Ministers
When? From 1955 to 1965
Among many things, Season 2 of The Crown will portray a conveyer belt of Prime Minister appearing in front of Her Majesty. If the next instalment stretches out as far as Claire Foy implies (the '60s), fans of the Netflix series will witness the rise and falls of at least three Prime Ministers — Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home — before the election of Harold Wilson, the first Labour candidate to win after Churchill.
However, judging by the timeline, much of the focus will still remain on PM Eden, who ended Season 1 passed out from a drug injection while watching news footage of the Egyptian president.
Eventually, Eden — who was initially wildly popular in the post-war period — will resign in disgrace following the Suez Canal Crisis, with his failures and embarrassing reputation reflecting terribly on the Queen.
7. The Profumo Affair
The Profumo Affair was a political scandal, in which it was revealed that John Profumo — Great Britain's Secretary of State for War — had conducted an illicit affair with Christine Keeler, a 19-year-old model and London call girl.
Despite initially denying any wrongdoing, he was forced to admit the truth weeks later, severely damaging the current government's reputation (under Harold Macmillan at the time) in the process. This is because Keeler was also simultaneously involved with a Soviet naval officer at the time, posing a potential security breach as fears that the young woman could have exchanged state secrets soared.
The affair scandal led to Profumo's resignation from his position in 1963, and from the Queen's royal perspective, put her country in great danger due to the potential leak of classified information.
- When? The early '60s
Turning away from politics for a moment, we could also bear witness to The Beatles cultural revolution in Season 2 of The Crown. Although not exactly a historic event, it's no secret that the royal family were huge fans of the Liverpool band that went on to achieve world domination within the music scene. After their debut performance in 1961 with "Love Me Do," "Beatle Mania" spread through the country like wildfire — and Queen Elizabeth II was by no means exempt.
For starters, Prince Charles — who would be a teenager by Season 2 — reportedly once asked to be sent an autograph by the band. Additionally, The Beatles actually performed in front of the royals in 1963 at the Royal Variety Show and even had a meet-and-greet with the Queen Mother afterwards, who later said:
"They are so fresh and vital. I simply adore them."
The Crown Season 2 comes to Netflix in November 2017.
What other historical events do you think will be covered?