Picture it: Prince William and Kate snuggled up on one sofa, Prince Harry on the other.
They’re in the middle of a Netflix binge, glued to The Crown, the streaming service’s award winning original series about the British Royal family.
It’s a scene the Queen likes to imagine, anyway. That’s the TV version of Elizabeth II, of course — actress Claire Foy, who’s back for a second series playing the monarch, alongside Matt Smith as her husband Prince Philip.
“We used to have a fascination of the idea of there being a Royal Gogglebox, and that you could record them watching us back...” reveals the 33-year-old star, with a loud laugh.
In person, Foy and Smith seem to have a chemistry between them, that has possibly contributed to making their on-screen characters so believable.
Add to that their perfectly poshed-up accents, the juicy drama behind the historical events and don’t forget the millions of pounds spent on the show by Netflix.
It has, as one may say, paid off. Series one — which focused on a young Queen Elizabeth II learning how to rule — was the runaway success of 2017.
The second instalment is set in the decade beginning in the mid-1950s and is expected to offer just as sumptuous viewing.
Although this time around, Smith says, we learn more about the other individuals in the show. There is a huge focus on Prince Philip and how he is forced to confront his own insecurities with his role, as his 10th wedding anniversary looms.
But Smith isn’t worried about portraying Philip in a potentially negative light. “I think what’s good about this show is that Peter Morgan is tough on the characters, and they can be really ugly,” he says.
“We spend time with them at their weakest. I think that is where we learn the most about them, and actually where we come to like them the most.”
But Smith, best known for his role as Doctor Who, experienced some consternation over the Duke of Edinburgh’s transformation in
When sent away on board the Royal Yacht Britannia for a five-month world tour, a beard-growing competition takes place — and the facial hair the prince ends up sporting is quite something.
The new series, which starts at the height of the Suez Crisis, and ends with the resignation of Harold Macmillan amid the Profumo scandal, is set against a period of huge social change.
And Foy was determined to continue to push herself in the role.
“The thing I’ve found most challenging second time round was not getting complacent and not presuming I knew everything about her, and I was just trying to keep my mind alive,” she explains. “I think that’s the exercise when you play a character again. You have to keep it living and breathing and not just go, ‘Oh, you know, I’ve done this before so I know everything’, because you really don’t.”
They will both be replaced by new actors as the royal couple move into the next stage of their lives.
It’s obvious that Foy and Smith will miss working together, but will they miss their characters?
“I think it’s more difficult [to let go of a character] when you are playing a part and they’re closer to you, and so much of yourself is in it that you can’t really see where one thing ends and the other begins,” says Foy.
“But with these two, they’re so different. And that’s what I loved and thrived on, was being in scenes with Matt and watching Matt. We totally believed ourselves sometimes.”
The Crown season two premieres on Netflix on Friday.
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