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Characters / The Crown (2016)

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The Royal Family

     Queen Elizabeth II 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Played By: Claire Foy (Seasons 1&2), Verity Russell (child, Season 1), Olivia Colman (Seasons 3&4)

"You don't think I would have preferred to grow up out of the spotlight? Away from court, away from the scrutiny and the visibility? A simpler life, happier life, as a wife, a mother, an ordinary English countrywoman?"

The main character of the series, and the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We are first introduced to Elizabeth as a young wife and mother who is unexpectedly thrust into a position of power and authority on the death of her father, and must learn to navigate her new role and the tensions it creates between her family, her own modest nature, and the changing place and nature of post-war Britain.

  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • As a child, she was known as "Lilibet" by those who loved her. Her family members still use the nickname sometimes.
    • Philip calls her "ma petite choux" (French for "my little cabbage") during their anniversary party in "Beryl", referencing one of Philip's actual nicknames for her (he apparently calls her that and also just "Cabbage").
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Horse riding and husbandry is one of the few topics of conversation with which she is completely comfortable.
  • Always on Duty: She rarely lets her hair down, even with close family members.
  • As the Good Book Says...: She gets caught up in the hype surrounding televangelist Billy Graham, and commits herself to living by Christ's example. She soon learns how difficult it is to reconcile this with some of her responsibilities as queen.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Awesome enough to evoke Manly Tears from the Duke of Windsor.
  • Big Sister Instinct: While the two don't always get along, and as Queen must always put her duty before family, she is extremely protective of Margaret, and after learning of Tony's very open sexual nature, as well as her belief that the Princess is doing so out of envy and anger at Peter, she concernedly warns Margaret if marrying Tony is what she truly wants. In the end however, she does allow Margaret to marry, mostly out of guilt how she had failed her and Peter before.
  • Book Dumb: While by no means unintelligent, her education was extremely limitednote  and she becomes embarrassed that she doesn't have a single school certificate to her name. She hires herself a tutor so that she can properly understand the many matters of state that she has to deal with as Queen.
  • Brainy Brunette: Very smart, insightful, knowledgeable, with brown hair.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Averted. While her friend Lord "Porchey" Porchester may have been in love with her, she states that she has only ever loved Philip.
  • Cool Crown:
    • St Edward's Crown, which she uses for her coronation, as is tradition.
    • Her extensive collection of tiaras, which she wears for formal but non-ceremonial occasions.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: Her foxtrot with President Kwame Nkrumah essentially saves the relationship between the United Kingdom and Ghana.
  • Determinator: Not even muscle spasms from smiling too much will stop her from continuing on a punishing tour of the Commonwealth.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor call her "Shirley Temple" behind her back on account of her curls and precociousness as a child.
  • English Rose: Porcelain-skinned with rich brown hair and blue eyes, possesses a gentle demeanor and iron will, petite with a modest and elegant beauty.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: The Duke of Windsor comments on how her coronation exemplifies this.
  • Friend to All Living Things: She is thrilled at the variety of wildlife she gets to see up close during her and Philip's visit to Kenya. Subverted in that, like most of the British upper class, she has no problem with The Grand Hunt.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple and True Blue Femininity: Most of her outfits are one of these colors.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Slightly envious of Jackie Kennedy and her seemingly natural charm.
  • I Am Very British: Has perhaps the most heightened Received Pronunciation of any character on the show.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Often, and much to her regret.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Would rather be an "ordinary English countrywoman" instead of, well, the Queen.
  • Important Haircut: She tries out an early version of her current hairstyle in Season 2, soundtracked to the same anthem played at her coronation.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Her Lascelles-approved speeches give off this vibe, especially after her speech to the workers at Jaguar, which comes off as paternalistic and classist. All showing she is rather out of touch with her subjects.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: While living in Malta in the early years of her and Philip's marriage, and on their visit to Kenya.
  • Mama Bear: Very protective of Charles and has no wish for him to attend Gordonstoun, as she can predict exactly the effect it will have on him.
  • Married to the Job: Her royal duties often require her to spend long periods of time away from her husband, and sometimes restrict his behavior according to protocol.
  • Modest Royalty: Not particularly interested in fashion; she usually wears a sensible dress and pearls around Buckingham Palace.
  • Nature Lover: Fond of solitary moments in the country or the garden.
  • Not So Different: From Jackie Kennedy; the two bond over their mutual shyness and their attempts to reconcile this with their very public positions.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: After meeting with Lord Altrincham to discuss his recommended modernisations, she seemingly disappears as if by magic from the room they were talking in, after he briefly leaves and re-enters. Altrincham is slightly unnerved when relaying this to a colleague, as there is no obvious alternate exit at all.
  • Oh, Crap!: Visibly has such a moment as she learns of the depth of the Duke of Windsor's affinity for Nazi Germany. This prevents her from allowing him back into public life out of Christian charity, as she had planned.
  • Parents as People: While she of course loves her children without exception, her job does keep her unavailable from them, something that she herself resents. Also, while she, again, no doubt loves Charles, she is somewhat distant from him, as he represents the succession of the Crown, and therefore is a constant reminder, much like how she was for George, of her own mortality.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Wears floor-length gowns bedecked with ribbons for official portraits.
  • Precious Puppy: Several of her corgis are often seen scampering about Buckingham Palace.
  • Princess Classic: Especially when contrasted with Margaret.
  • Quit Your Whining: Finally tells Philip to do thhis after losing her patience with his complaints about his position.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Philip's insulting impression of her father. It's the only time in the series where she really loses her temper.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Much of the drama of the show is her struggle to be precisely this.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Margaret's Red.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Like most modern monarchs, she never dons her crown and robes except for ceremonial occasions.
  • Royal Blood: From a line going back 900 years at least.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: She was a mechanic during World War IInote . As a princess and as Queen, she understands that her role is to act as the living symbol of the United Kingdom and tirelessly goes around her realms to show her peoples the nation at work.
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Despite her lamentably limited education, she proves to have a deeper understanding of Britain's constitution than many of her courtiers and ministers, thanks to her childhood lessons with the vice-provost at Eton.
  • Shrinking Violet: Is naturally shy and hates the spotlight.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She is naturally shy and hates being in the spotlight...however she proves to be an excellent and strong-willed stateswoman and possesses a very hardy commitment to her role and country. She even refuses to cut her tour short when learning that there have been death threats made from Gibraltar.
    I am aware that I am surrounded by people who feel they could do the job better. Strong people with powerful characters, more natural leaders, perhaps better-suited to leading from the front, making a mark. But, for better or worse, the Crown has landed on my head. And I say we go.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: As far as anyone can tell, and she herself proclaims, she has only ever loved Philip, no one else.
  • Slave to PR: Becomes this after a poorly received speech at the Jaguar factory.
  • Stealth Insult: After she hears that Jacqueline Kennedy was gossiping about her at a dinner party and describing her as “a middle-aged woman, so incurious, unintelligent”, she listens to the insults Jackie has slung at her, pauses for a moment, and then says, “Well, we must have her again,” with a delivery so cold it should be the new international standard for absolute zero.
  • Stepford Smiler: Especially during the Commonwealth tour, when excessive smiling results in facial spasms.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: She will do her duty with as little fuss as possible. It takes an incredible amount of stress for her facade to even start showing cracks and, even then, they are so subtle that few even notice she's under strain.
  • Strangely Arousing: Philip can't put his finger on why she is especially attractive after she lectures Bobbety and Winston.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Having erred on the side of caution for much of Series 1, her aforementioned assertion that she will not miss out Gibraltar from her Commonwealth tour, despite death threats, marks a turning point in her own confidence and authority.
  • Verbal Tic: "Oh!", to express mild surprise.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Female version; Philip sarcastically suggests that she only puts up with her duties as Queen to make her father love her as much as Margaret. This clearly strikes a nerve.
  • Windbag Politician: Lord Altrincham's opinion of her after her speech at the Jaguar factory.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Her youth and inexperience could have made her much more impulsive and selfish than she allows herself to be.
  • Wrench Wench: Takes great pride in her wartime service as a mechanic and driver, and jumps at the chance to show off her skills in the event of car trouble.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The day her father dies, she writes him a letter asking permission for her and Philip to return to Malta, where they lived early in their marriage. Later in the series, she refers to Malta as her "island of happy memories."
  • Young and in Charge: Elizabeth is 25 when she takes the throne.

    Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Played By: Matt Smith (Seasons 1&2), Finn Elliot (child, Season 2). Tobias Menzies (Seasons 3&4)

"What kind of marriage is this? What kind of family? You've taken my career from me, you've taken my home. You've taken my name."

Elizabeth's husband and consort. After his wife's elevation to the throne, he finds himself in a position of subservience he was unprepared for and must try and find a place for himself in his family's new life.

  • Adaptational Personality Change: Whilst the real Philip is infamous for being hotheaded and perpetually sticking his foot in his mouth, he is also undyingly loyal to Elizabeth and the institution of the British Crown. It's accepted that he'll occasionally grumble about certain things, but the Duke of Edinburgh was never as antagonistic as the show portrays him to be.
  • ...But I Play One on TV: He finds it a little ridiculous that, as a career sailor, he was made an Honorary Marshal of the Royal Air Force and decides to take flying lessons so that he can legitimately wear pilot's wings on his uniform.
  • Chest of Medals: He has an impressive collection of medals that he often wears (as seen in his page photo). While most of these are of the ceremonial kind, he did earn his World War II campaign medals the hard way.
  • Competition Freak: The Duke prefers sports and competition to dinners and speeches, and will treat any contest as Serious Business, be it the Royal Navy rowing competition or some tug of war with the natives.
    Row, you bastards!
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has a snide remark for almost every situation.
  • The Drunken Sailor: Feels free to become this while traveling on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
  • Freudian Excuse: The second season explores how his harsh experiences at Gordonstoun compounded with the death of his siblings and his complicated feelings towards his parents played a role into his hot-heated obsession with personal ego.
  • Friend to All Children: For all his faults, Philip is consistently shown to be a doting father to his children who despises having to spend time apart from his family. He is also shown playing with two boys who work at Sagana Lodge on his and Elizabeth's return from Treetops. This begins to be subverted as Charles is not turning out the way Philip hoped, and his disappointment is obvious.
  • Generation Xerox: His father was distant and cold towards him and, despite his best efforts, he finds himself being distant and cold towards Charles.
  • Has a Type: Cites Jayne Mansfield and Rita Hayworth, both of whom had curly shoulder-length hair, as celebrity crushes.
  • Hypocrite: All of his suggestions about the coronation, which cause much of a flap among the stuffy old establishment types who are organising it, are centred around modernising the monarchy. However he noticeably chafes at the prospect of having to kneel in submission before his own wife, a very old-fashioned attitude indeed.
  • Idle Rich: As a royal consort, he has no official duties of his own beyond looking presentable next to his wife. He deals with the boredom by frequently partying and getting drunk with friends and by taking up flying as a hobby.
  • Impoverished Patrician: He grew up under very humble circumstances for someone born into royaltynote  and only really became settled when his uncle, Louis Mountbatten, took him in as a surrogate son. What status he had at the beginning of the series (as a naval officer and decorated war veteran), he earned entirely though his own merits rather than family connections.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: This is more or less his story arc in Season 2, where his often secretive, flippant and uncaring attitude is contrasted with his noble motives, inner strength and love for his family.
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Philip dearly loves Charles but is frequently frustrated by his son's sensitive nature. He decides to enroll Charles in Gordonstoun, a notoriously tough boarding schoolnote , in an attempt to prepare Charles for the harsh realities of the real world.
  • Kubrick Stare: He is very tall and has to look down a lot, so he usually delivers his poignant remarks and strides around in this way.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: His reaction to Elizabeth's "tidy and sensible" haircut.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: He and Elizabeth both want their children to take his surname of Mountbatten. Her advisors, the government, and the Queen Mother insist otherwise. A case of Truth in Television as Philip complained that he was "the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children." A 1960 Privy Council declaration created the surname "Mountbatten-Windsor" for male-line descendants of the Queen who do not have royal titles, or when royals who do not typically use surnames require one, such as for a marriage registry.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Since he spends most of his time partying with his friends away from the palace, his possible infidelity nags at the back of Elizabeth's mind. Rumors did swirl at the time that Philip was having an affair (if not several), and do play a part during the second season, enough for Elizabeth to issue an official denial.
  • Narcissist: Admits that being one of these led to an unfortunate interview with a reporter.
  • Only Sane Man: As one of the few characters who haven't spent their entire lives dealing with the British Royal Court, he is able to see some of the absurdities inherent in the system. Unfortunately for him, no one listens to what he has to say.
  • Parental Favoritism: He gets on much better with outgoing tomboy Anne rather than shy, sensitive Charles.
  • Pride: Several of the conflicts between himself and Elizabeth stem from his pride chafing at his inferior role in their relationship since she became Queen.
  • Rich Boredom: Because he has nothing to do as a royal consort, he begins going out and partying all day long. When that gets to be boring, he starts taking flying lessons and decides to become the fastest-qualified pilot in Britain simply because he has time to spare.
  • Seadog Beard: Allows this to grow over the course of his solo Commonwealth tour.
  • Stuck in Their Shadow: His wife's shadow, to be exact, and he hates it.

     Princess Margaret 

Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
Played By: Vanessa Kirby (Seasons 1&2), Beau Gadsdon (child, Season 1), Helena Bonham-Carter (Seasons 3&4)

"You think that I am free? To be constantly in your shadow. Constantly the overlooked one."

Elizabeth's younger sister. More vivacious, modern and charismatic than Elizabeth, she resents living in her sister's shadow, but her own arrogance and wilful sense of independence creates just as many problems for Elizabeth.

  • Affectionate Nickname: Margot, as she was known within the Royal Family.
  • Age-Gap Romance: With Peter Townsend, he was 16 years her senior.
  • The Beautiful Elite: When she was born in 1930, her grandfather was King-Emperor of the largest Empire the world has ever known, or will likely ever know again, so in terms of elite, she's about as elite as it gets — and doesn't she know it. Cecil Beaton gushingly explains to her this is why her annual birthday portrait is so important to the British public; — her image can invoke the fantasies of the drab reality many of the people face. As in real life, Princess Margaret was quite famed for her ethereal beauty, as well as her haughty superiority at times.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: The counterculture of the 1960s agrees with her, except for the side of her that still loves to be a princess. The Queen chides her that she's "the least egalitarian person she's ever met."
  • Cheerful Child: A flashback shows her playfully sticking her tongue out at Elizabeth during an etiquette lesson.
  • Completely Missing the Point: She shreds Elizabeth over showing a lack of personality as monarch. She doesn’t seem to realize that, as monarch, this is exactly what Elizabeth is supposed to be doing and that the suppression of her own personality and desires in favor of her royal duty is actually quite hard on her.
  • Cool Aunt: A downplayed example. She is rather concerned about the choice of name for her 2nd nephew and in one episode of Season 2 is seen holding and cuddling her niece Anne.
  • Daddy's Girl: As their father says "Elizabeth is my pride, but Margaret is my joy."
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Played with; she is at her best when reading her own words, not those provided to her by courtiers.
  • English Rose: Beautiful, elegant, fashionable, slim, and spirited...she fits the image of the English Rose. An image that is foisted on her by her position, her mother, and the palace photographer. She tries to rebel against that image with sexier portraits of all things.
  • The Fashionista: She can be seen parading around in the haute couture and outdoor fashions of the 1950s.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Much as she accuses Elizabeth of jealousy towards her, it's pretty clear that she's even more jealous about Elizabeth's position in the spotlight and how constantly overshadowed she is.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: She enjoys the perks of being a princess, but loathes the responsibilities and restraints it entails.
  • Honorable Marriage Proposal: Receives one of these from her friend Billy Wallace, as they know he will be accepted by her family. This falls apart quickly after one of her other suitors challenges him over flirting with other women.
  • Heroic BSoD: She falls into deep despair the evening she finds out about Wallace’s behaviour, detailed above, and trashes her bedroom in a mascara-smeared, drunken rage, which is scored by the deeply melancholic Angel Eyes by Ella Fitzgerald.
  • Hypocrite: She claims to be a free modern woman, breaking away from the stale traditions of the royal family — but Elizabeth calmly points out that she's not giving up her titles or her privileges, and she never will, because she values all the trappings of royalty too much.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Couldn't care less that her renovations are bothering the other residents of Kensington Palace, and assumes their complaints are out of jealousy.
    • While Margaret does have some valid reasons to feel jealous with regards to being overshadowed by Elizabeth and hard-done-by with regards to how she and her romantic partners have been treated, she often tends to default to the position that anything Elizabeth does is part of some overarching malicious scheme to spite her rather than consider the possibility that the inconveniences Elizabeth imposes might not be personal. For example, when Elizabeth reveals that her pregnancy means that Margaret's engagement announcement will have to be delayed for a few monthsnote , Margaret's response is an outburst of outraged whining and petty insults with a curt, tossed-off "Congratulations, by the way," briefly thrown in.
  • I Will Wait for You: Her and Peter willingly undergo this for two years so that they will be allowed to marry. In an unusual variation, they still don’t get to be together when it’s over as Margaret can't reconcile giving up her place in the Royal Family to do so.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: She gets a few of these
    • Margaret is justified at being upset over how her role as princess interferes with her personal life and restricts her freedom. This is particularly noticeable in her doomed relationship with Peter Townsend. Most of her Jerkass moments come from her tendency to lash out with personal insults and pettiness when dealing with it instead of trying to approach the issue with maturity or showing any understanding of the other side’s arguments.
    Elizabeth: As your sister, I would have been perfectly happy for you to marry Peter. It was the Crown that forbade it. Not to mention the fact that he was a little old. Not really from the right -
    Margaret: No, no, don't you dare say background.
    Elizabeth: Well I just think it might have all come back to haunt you.
    Margaret: What, did Philip's Nazi sisters come back to haunt him? Or his lunatic mother? Or his womanising, bankrupt father?
    • She is absolutely right about the dangerous work faced by British coal miners.
    • She understandably feels betrayed after her two year separation from Peter is over and she finds out they still won’t be allowed to marry. She did keep up her end of the bargain, after all.
    • She might have a point about the eagerness of the press to paint her as the wicked sister to Elizabeth's 'good queen' persona.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can be abrasive, rude and snarky, but she does love her family very much, and at times does thoroughly respect her sister's position as head of the family. Also she publicly expresses her sympathy to the plight of the British coal miners, however this is frowned upon by both the monarchy and government due to their staunch stance on remaining politically neutral.
  • Lady Drunk: She drinks an awful lot and blames it on her being unhappy. It's a habit that gets worse as the time goes by.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Almost constantly seen with a cigarette in her hand, as per real life.
  • Mutual Envy: Elizabeth and Margaret often wish they could trade roles.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Much like in real life, Margaret is a notable aversion to this trope. She treats her staff with terrible rudeness. It's implied that it's partly because of her unhappiness, but she continues to be abrasive even after she gets married.
  • Non-Idle Rich: At least by the end of Season 2, she shows hints of her becoming the famous patron of the arts history would remember her for.
  • Not a Morning Person: Typically rises around 11:30 — mostly due to being out partying til 4am.
  • Parental Favoritism: Knows all too well, and almost explicitly states, that she was on the receiving end of this from the King.
  • Photos Lie: Has this opinion of the fantastical portraits taken by court photographer Cecil Beaton, whom she despises.
  • The Piano Player: Plays and sings "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" with her father the night before he dies.
  • Proud Beauty: She is very well aware of how beautiful she is and is annoyed when people tell her that her last birthday portrait made her look like her mother did at that age.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • She delivers a positively withering one of these to Billy Wallace, after she discovers his cheating ways during their engagement:
    Margaret: "You pathetic, weak, contemptible fool. I never even wanted to marry you. You were only ever an act of charity. Or desperation. And now you insult me? You? People like you don't get to insult people like me. You get to be eternally grateful. You've quite the way with women. Take a look at this face. A picture of disappointment and disgust. This is the look that every woman you ever know will come to share. This is what the next forty years of your life will look like."
    • She has a tendency to deliver rather waspish put-downs towards Elizabeth as well, particularly around the whole Peter Townsend mess. Deconstructed, however, since in this case it's really out of Margaret's own sense of inferiority and jealousy, and no matter how cruel towards Elizabeth she is that feeling will never go away.
  • Rebellious Princess: Unlike the rest of the royal family, who strive to present an image of political neutrality and moral sobriety, Margaret freely gives her opinions and thrives on her party girl lifestyle.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Elizabeth's Blue.
  • Rich Bitch: Margaret often behaves like a spoiled snob, and is capable of cutting remarks and hauteur, as per real life.
  • Ridiculously Photogenic: As Wallis says after the photo taken by Tony appears in the papers: "Ooh-la-la!"
  • Silent Snarker: Philip sometimes joins her in this.
  • Speak Truth To Power: No one, bar herself (and Prince Philip) ever back-chat, argue, or volley insults at the Queen; — she only gets away with it because she's her sister.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Very proud of the definite article “The” before her title, a distinction only a child of a King or Queen is entitled to have, which elevates her from those she considers “low-ranking” princesses like her neighbour Princess Marina.
  • Uptown Girl: To Antony Armstrong-Jones, who is something of a "backstreet guy."
  • You're Just Jealous: Accuses Elizabeth of this after every hindrance of her and Peter's relationship. She's not entirely wrong.
    • Also her reaction to complaints about her constant, noisy renovations from minor royals living in Kensington Palace.

     King George VI 

His Majesty King George VI
Played By: Jared Harris

"I no longer am Albert Windsor. That person was murdered by his elder brother... when he abdicated."

King of the United Kingdom from 1936-1952, and Elizabeth's father. A shy, modest and gentle man with a lingering stutter, he is forced to confront his own mortality upon being diagnosed with cancer, and his unexpectedly sudden death will propel Elizabeth into the role of the monarch that she is not fully prepared for.

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Shown to be a genuinely gentle and compassionate man who loved his family and carried on with his job despite the toll it took on him. The fact that he both took over when his brother abdicated despite being very reluctant to do so and then subsequently reigned during the Second World War certainly helped with this.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Downplayed. Everyone in his family always called him "Bertie." However, this is because his birth name was Albert.
  • Blood from the Mouth: He opens the series coughing up blood. He and his courtiers try and convince themselves that it's merely because of the cold weather and nothing more serious.
  • The Chains of Commanding: His plans for a relatively normal life are scrapped after his brother's abdication, and the mounting stress of the kingship becomes a contributing factor to his early death.
  • Decoy Protagonist: He is pretty much the central character in the first episode, but dies halfway through episode two. The series averts the usual "sudden twist" aspect of the trope by making it clear pretty much from the first scene of the series with the Incurable Cough of Death that he's not going to be around long (plus, well, anyone with a basic grasp of modern British history will have this figured out from the start), and the episode is all about his grappling with his mortality.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Only a selected few know about his "structural alterations", a malignant tumor, and then only Churchill calls it by its real name, cancer. His Majesty is not told the true nature of the illness until some months before it becomes fatal.
  • Doting Grandparent: Is shown cuddling baby Anne in a home movie and playing with Charles at Sandringham.
  • Freak Out: When a valet has trouble adjusting his collar.
  • The Good King: Is shown to be a kind and benevolent ruler, who always wanted what was best for his people, despite the toll it took on his health, and in turn is thoroughly adored by the British population.
  • Good Parents: A genial father to his daughters.
  • The Hero: Explicitly according to Tommy Lascelles, and implicitly according to the rest of Britain.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Dies of lung cancer and begins the series coughing up blood.
  • Must Have Nicotine: He was a heavy smoker and the habit was exacerbated by the stresses of being King. He was smoking up to 40 cigarettes a day towards the end of his life, resulting in the removal of one cancerous lung and an early death. He keeps smoking even after losing a lung.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Turns his daily red box upside down before opening it so he can be sure to see the most sensitive papers, which Cabinet officials place at the bottom. Elizabeth does the same with her red boxes.
  • Papa Wolf: Protective of his daughters, particularly Elizabeth. Openly makes it clear to Philip, as George knows due to his increasingly failing health that the very young Elizabeth will be Queen much sooner than she realizes, that his job will be to always and without exception protect, love and support her, both as his wife and as his Monarch.
    She is the job!
  • Posthumous Character: He dies in the second episode but his presence and influence is felt throughout the rest of the first season through flashbacks, and once in the second season in a WWII flashback.
  • The Quiet One: He was a painfully shy person by nature and had a terrible stutter that needed significant therapy to keep under control and would avoid speaking if at all possible.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: He's introduced getting dressed in his finery while swapping bawdy limericks with his equerry.
    There was an old Countess of Bray. And you might think it odd when I say, that despite her high station, rank and education, she always spelled "Cunt" with a K!
  • Spare to the Throne: As the second son of George V, Albert was not expected to inherit the throne and never wanted the crown, but the abdication of his brother Edward changed Albert's life dramatically.
  • Speech Impediment: Has a noticeable stammer.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: He was never intended to be Monarch and most definitely didn't aspire to the thronenote . Nevertheless, he did his duty and won the love and respect of his peoples without ever letting the public see just how much he was suffering under the stress.
  • That Man Is Dead: Eden goes to the King asking him to encourage Churchill to retire, not as the sovereign George VI, but as Churchill's friend Albert Windsor. While the King hints that Churchill's friend Albert Windsor would indeed encourage Churchill to retire, Albert Windsor died when he became George VI, and he cannot involve himself directly in politics. He then gently tells the ambitious Eden that his ambition is misplaced as he will become Prime Minister eventually.

     Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
Played By: Victoria Hamilton (Seasons 1&2), Marion Bailey (Seasons 3&4)

"We taught you how to be a lady, a princess. What do you want? A degree? No one wants a bluestocking or college lecturer as sovereign. They want a Queen."

The Queen Mother. A source of strength and support to the late King, on his death she finds herself without a role and with her traditional views of Britain and the monarchy increasingly under challenge.

  • A Day in the Limelight: In "Pride and Joy", where she takes a solo trip to her native Scotland and spends time with local friends.
  • Death Wail: When the King is discovered to have passed away during the night, she races to his bedroom wracked with sobs. Princess Margaret, overhearing her mother's agonised cries from the hallway, realises the worst has happened.
  • Drama Queen: She often does get rather dramatic and shrill — particularly where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor are concerned.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor dismissively call her "Cookie" because they believed she looked more like a servant rather than the someone of noble blood.
  • The Gadfly: Between her Upper-Class Twit voice and rather rail-roading opinions she expresses to Elizabeth and Margaret (often triggering anxieties), she can come across as vaguely manipulative.
  • Granny Classic: A regal example. She seems to dote on her grandchildren and is rather concerned that Philip is being too hard on Charles.
  • Happily Married: She is absolutely shattered by the death of King George VI, and vows never to forgive the Duke of Windsor for driving her beloved Bertie into an early grave.
  • Historical Downgrade: Her real life counterpart was a British national hero for her role in providing moral support to the nation during the blitz, causing her to be named "the most dangerous woman in Europe" by Hitler. So far this hasn't quite been referenced, and she is depicted as a sweet, if slightly shrill, matriarch. This does reflect wider public opinion of her in her later years, however, as after the King's death and her subsequent stepping into the background, she tended to be regarded by the general public more as everyone's favourite slightly dotty grandmother with a fondness for a tipple.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: It was said that Margaret's birthday portrait looked like how her Mother looked in her youth. Margaret is not happy about this.
  • My Beloved Smother: She never gets the notice that her daughters are grown and able to make their own decisions, trying to advise and control Elizabeth (who is a ruling monarch on top of being in her 30s and a wife and mother) and Margaret (over 21 and still trying to steer her to a "suitable" match).
  • Never My Fault: When confronted about how she and her husband didn't provide Elizabeth with a formal education (beyond lessons about court etiquette and the British Constitution), she shifts the blame to their advisors for not suggesting that the young princess be sent to school.
  • Nice to the Waiter: For the most part she is unfailingly polite to most everyone, (with notable exceptions being the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and at times Philip and his family) and even after his retirement, depended on Tommy Lascelles as both a confidant and friend. "Pride and Joy" sees her revelling in the fact that a man doesn't recognize her, allowing her the chance to befriend him on a more natural level, without her status as Queen complicating matters.
  • One Steve Limit: Also called Queen Elizabeth. A fact that amuses Queen Mary, also a "Queen", and confuses her nurse.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Tried to invoke this on Elizabeth and Philip, which failed as she eventually married him anyway. She is much more successful and subtle in preventing Margaret's intention to marry Peter Townsend.
  • Ruling Couple
  • Stepford Smiler: She is rather concerned with putting forth a fairy-tale like image of the royal family and cares for more frivolous pleasures. True to rumours, as the Queen Mother was stated to be almost emphatically unwilling to confront anything she found unpleasant.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: "Dear Mrs. Kennedy" shows her furiously banging on the top of the tv despite Elizabeth's protestations that it will only make it worse when the signal gets messed up.
  • Thrifty Scot: The owner of the Castle of Mey invokes this when he realizes he was doing business with the queen mother.
  • Upper-Class Twit: She doesn't possess a lot of common sense and shifts blame to her advisors when Elizabeth confronted her about her meagre education.
  • You Are Fat: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor make references to her being fat constantly, in spite of the fact that, as played by Victoria Hamilton, she is not as round as the Queen Mother turned out to be. This is partly out of spitefulness more than accuracy, however; the Windsors and the Queen Mother famously detested each other quite viciously, and things tended to get personal quite quickly.

     Queen Mary 

Her Majesty Queen Mary

Played By: Eileen Atkins

"The crown must win. Must always win."

Elizabeth and Margaret's grandmother, and George VI's mother. She is ailing by the time the season starts, but nevertheless possesses great reserves of strength and support.

  • Cool Old Lady: She suffers no fools, but also is quite charming. She expresses to Elizabeth the importance of her position as the Crown, and not as simply Elizabeth, explaining that God intended the monarchy's most important position is to present itself as stability and security to the country and act as an archetype and example of which their subjects can strive to live their lives. That said she isn't above sharing a sly joke with her young nurse, at the same time giving her a quick lesson on the succession of the Crown.
  • Food Porn: She inquires about the food her nephew Prince Ernst August of Hanover enjoyed at Lord Mountbatten's table, and positively salivates to hear him describe it.
    Queen Mary: The food is normally quite good at Broadlands.
    Ernst August: Outstanding!
    Queen Mary: Especially the duck, from memory, with oranges.
    Ernst August: Rum-soaked raisins...
    Queen Mary: Oh! A Prussian recipe.
    Ernst August: (in German) Spaetzle, too. Crispy, with cheese and breadcrumbs.
    Queen Mary: (in German) Delicious!
  • Grande Dame: Multiple authors have not called her "the formidable Queen Mary" for nothing.
  • Gratuitous German: Engages in some of this with "meine liebe Ernst."
  • Hates Small Talk: Makes Elizabeth promise not to ask about her health, which at that point is quite fragile.
    Forget death by lung disease. It's death by bad conversation.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Typically seen with a glass of amber liquid in stressful moments.
  • Meaningful Look: To Elizabeth, when bowing to her for the first time. It's as if she's channeling the determination Elizabeth needs directly into her with her eyes.
  • Mentor Archetype: In a way. Before dying, she gives Elizabeth valuable advice which is to shape her reign. She emphasises impartiality at all times, even advising against smiling, lest it reveal the monarch’s opinion and impresses upon her granddaughter, as the quote above indicates, that the Crown must trump all else.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Does not have many scenes that don't include a cigarette.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Prince Ernst August looks genuinely terrified to admit to her that he drank champagne the day after her son's funeral.
  • Never Say That Again: Strongly advises son David not to speak his wife's name (the scandalous Wallis Simpson) in her presence.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: She outlived three sons before she died.
  • Parental Favoritism: For George VI, and she doesn't particularly care if his older brother knows it.
  • Role Reprisal: Atkins had previously played Queen Mary in the 2002 ITV telefilm Bertie and Elizabeth, which was set from 1920 (the first meeting of the title characters) to 1952 (the death of George VI).
  • Stealth Insult: When Edward visits her before George VI's funeral, she calls George the perfect son, cementing Edward's status as The Unfavorite right in front of him.
  • Widow's Weeds: Although she's mourning her son, not her husband, when she goes to bow to the new Queen for the first time in full widow regalia.

     Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor 

His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor
Played By: Alex Jennings

"I will always be half King, my tragedy is that I have no kingdom. You have it. And you must protect it."

The former King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry his twice-divorced lover Wallis Simpson. This act caused a crisis which threatened the monarchy, forced his reluctant younger brother to take the throne and had effects which continue to ripple through British society. Reduced to glorified exiles as a result, he is bitter towards the Windsors for insults and mistreatment both real and perceived, an enmity which several in the family and British establishment alike are more than willing to return.

  • Abdicate the Throne: Edward was infamously driven to it to marry his twice-divorced lover. The memory of the crisis still haunts the House of Windsor.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He's all charm and obsequiousness to his niece and relatives in person, but shares bitchy gossip and snide nicknames about them with his wife in private. In a variation, said niece and relatives are well aware that he does this, which is one reason why they dislike him so much.
  • Black Sheep: After the abdication crisis, where he puts his own person before the crown, he is effectively banished and becomes persona non grata for most of the family.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative: But his attempts to use his niece's position to his advantage never seem to work out.
  • Evil Uncle: Downplayed, but it's still clear that most of his family still blame him for the abdication and indirectly causing George VI's early death.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: He can be particularly vicious about Elizabeth behind her back, but it's implied to be because she now holds the position — and the power — that he gave up. In a particularly sad irony, Elizabeth is often shown to be one of the few members of his extended family who is willing to show kindness and forgiveness towards him (at least, until she learns the full extent of his connections with the Nazis).
  • Guilty Pleasures
    Having had a naval background, I don't much care for fussy things or smells. But I do like a good hand-milled soap.
  • Hidden Depths: Is shown crying while playing the bagpipes after Elizabeth's coronation, hinting at some regret at the abdication if not the circumstances it occurred under.
  • Hypocrite: On several occasions, scenes of Edward's family members experiencing some kind of grief or loss, or offering Edward some hospitality (even if grudgingly), are contrasted with a voiceover of one of Edward's bitchy letters to Wallis in which he denounces them as awful, selfish, cold and unfeeling. In general, he's all charm (or smarm) and obsequiousness to their faces, but vicious, waspish and spiteful behind their backs.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: When Queen Mary calls Bertie the perfect son, his expression practically shouts this.
  • It's All About Me: Or all about "me and Wallis" at least; he's incapable of letting go of his bitterness and resentment for how his extended family treat him over a decision that was entirely within his own power and which caused them no small amount of upheaval and grief as well.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He's not entirely wrong to feel resentment at his treatment at the hands of the Royal Family and the British establishment at times, nor that their treatment of him and his wife can be a bit unnecessarily cruel. However, it just never seems to register that they also have a point and it's largely due to his own selfish actions that he gets treated the way he does. He also gives genuinely good advice to Elizabeth on a couple of occasions, although it's usually out of self-serving reasons that he'll benefit from in some way.
  • Jerkass Realization:
    • An understated example: he seems genuinely regretful when he realizes Elizabeth doesn't hate him for the same reasons as her family and that she wanted nothing to do with her royal position. While still treating her and the family with disdain, he gives Elizabeth a genuine apology and is much more helpful in private conversation afterwards.
    • He's also left visibly shaken when, after being confronted with the true depths he went to with regards to his fondness for the Nazis, Elizabeth coldly asks how he can possibly forgive himself.
  • Kick the Dog: He gets some real villain moments:
    • He declares he wants his mother to die when she becomes very ill because, if she recovers, a second trip would be unbearable.
    • He and Wallis laugh over Elizabeth's bad press.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: For all his snideness about his family and the institution, the weight of his decision to abdicate the throne clearly weighs on him. He's also left looking very shaken when Elizabeth confronts him about his connections to and dealings with the Nazis.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Does so, about King George VI, much to the anger of Tommy Lascelles.
  • The Nicknamer: He has unflattering nicknames for his entire family, and flattering ones for Wallis.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In-Universe, you can tell he's picked up some americanisms from his wife over the last sixteen years. He pronounces “past” and “bath” with a flat a, for example.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: When he gets riled up and his charm begins to slip, he has a tendency to lash out at the people around him until he goes too far and completely undercuts himself:
    • In "Coronation Day", he's infuriated when it's made clear that his wife won't be invited to the coronation in a transparent attempt to prevent him from attending as well. He makes some points about the hypocrisy and cruelty of the situation in a way that those he's attacking can't really argue with... until he makes the mistake of referring to the late King George VI as "weak." Tommy Lascelles immediately smacks that down, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has tried to be a mediating and neutral figure throughout the meeting, makes it clear that that was a step too far.
      Tommy Lascelles: Nothing weak about the late King, sir. I'm sure I speak for everyone present when I call him a hero.
      Archbishop of Canterbury: [Firmly] Here here.
    • In "Vergangenheit", he delivers a bitter retort when Elizabeth refuses his request for royal engagements, and implicitly refuses to allow him to rehabilitate his public image, and denounces the "inhumanity" of her and her family towards him and his wife. It quickly becomes apparent that this was a very bad choice of words on his part, coming as it does on the heels of Elizabeth learning precisely how chummy with the Nazis he and Wallis got, and she proceeds to give it back to him with both barrels, making it abundantly clear that forgiveness is not forthcoming and if he knows what's good for him he'll not be showing his face in her presence any time soon. The look on his face makes it clear he knows just how deeply he's trodden in it this time, and he quickly scurries away.
  • Pet the Dog: Actually gives Elizabeth good advice when she asks him for it. He also quickly gives her an apology for indirectly forcing her into her current role when she spells out why she's owed it. He also genuinely loves Wallis.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Would like to be one of these after growing bored with the 24-Hour Party People at Villa Windsor. A Moral Event Horizon makes this impossible. Though it's played with, since he quails a bit at the thought of anything which might actually require him to do some proper work; he'd like something fairly glamourous, easy and showy, but which doesn't require him to actually do much.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Complains of the "pusillanimity" of the Royal Family in denying an invitation to Elizabeth's coronation to his wife.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man
    "No matter the fashion, a well-cut suit in a beautiful fabric will take you anywhere."note 
  • The Starscream: He schemed a plot with the Nazis that would give the Germans a free reign in Europa in exchange for reinstating him as the King of England, usurping his brother.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Elizabeth was willing to forgive him even after she learns of some of his Nazi sympathies, but when the full extent of his collusion with Adolf Hitler — tantamount to treason — is revealed to her, she banishes Edward for good.
  • Treachery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Series two episode "Vergangenheit" tackles the Duke’s relationship with the Nazis, after the unearthing of the so-called Marburg Files. In its telling, the Duke is nothing short of a treacherous Nazi sympathizer, whose loathing for his former kingdom extended so far as to encourage the Germans to bomb it into suing for peace.
  • The Un-Favourite: Compared to Bertie, after the abdication.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In-Universe. Tends to exaggerate his family's more unsavoury traits in his letters to Wallis.
  • Voiceover Letter: Sends one or two of these to Wallis whenever he visits London.

     Wallis, Duchess of Windsor 

Her Grace Wallis, Duchess of Windsor
Played By: Lia Williams

The wife of the Duke of Windsor, whose relationship with him led to the abdication crisis.

  • 24-Hour Party People: Loves to entertain and is happy to fill her home with friends night after night.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Edward addresses her as his "dear darling Peaches" in his letters.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
  • Foreshadowing: The problems her marriage to Edward cause aren't a thousand miles away from the obstacles Margaret and Peter are to encounter to their engagement.
  • Happily Married: Despite the chaos it brought to the British monarchy, her and Edward do seem to genuinely love each other.
  • Kick the Dog: She and Edward have no problem laughing over Elizabeth's bad press during the Townsend Affair, seeing it as a vindication for their own relationship.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Persuades Edward to pump the Royal Family for a larger allowance during his visit for the King's funeral. The Queen Mother sees this coming from a mile away and cuts them off completely.
  • The Nicknamer: She and Edward often refer to members of the Royal Family and British Establishment by various embarrassing nicknames.
  • Really Gets Around: Members of the Royal household believe she was sleeping with Von Ribbentrop while he was the German Ambassador to London, while carrying on her affair with Edward.
  • The Resenter: Openly disdainful that despite her marriage to Edward, she has no true royal title.
  • Slut-Shaming: The Queen Mother describes her as "that Jezebel divorcée."
  • Unholy Matrimony: Virtually everyone else in the Royal Family views Wallis and Edward's marriage this way.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: British-born Lia Williams plays Wallis with a mix of English and mid-Atlantic accents. This is quite similar to how Wallis spoke in real life, though.

     Lord Mountbatten 

The Right Honourable Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Played By: Greg Wise (Seasons 1&2), Charles Dance (Seasons 3&4)

"Having Mountbatten as the name of the Royal house, having your first-born son, Charles, as the first Mountbatten king... Well, that would be some achievement, wouldn't it?"

The 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and the uncle of Prince Philip. He is both a family friend and an advisor to Philip, but his advice frequently causes tension with both the Windsors and the British establishment.

  • Affectionate Nickname: Known as "Dickie" by his family and friends (even though "Richard" is not among his several given names).
  • Agent Peacock: A highly decorated naval commander, he was Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia during the war, with such impeccable and refined tastes that the biggest room in his home is not his ball room, but his closet, which is solely for all his uniforms.
  • Ambition Is Evil: When he raises a toast to the Royal House now being called Mountbatten, warning bells go off for Queen Mary, the Queen Mother and Sir Tommy Lascelles, the House of Windsor's staunchest defenders.
  • Cool Old Guy: From the Edwardian generation, his lordship is still a quite jolly, personable, and unstuffy war hero.
  • Cool Uncle: To Philip, followed by Charles.
  • Mentor Archetype:
    • After being bounced around various relatives, Lord Louis Mountbatten takes the young Philip into his home and under his wing. His wish for the Royal House to be known as Mountbatten make him more of an Evil Mentor in the minds of Windsor loyalists.
    • He does the same with Charles, to the point they refer to each other as Honorary Grandfather and Honorary Grandson respectively.
  • Nephewism: Is very much a father figure to Philip. Whether this is out of affection or his own ambitions is never made clear. He later forms a close relationship with Charles and becomes a warmer alternative for the prince, in contrast to the harsh Philip.
  • Never Live It Down: His enemies are fond of snidely pointing out how he "gave away India" (namely, that he was the Viceroy who oversaw the partitioning and transitioning of India from a British colony to the independent nations of India and Pakistan).
  • Sexless Marriage: Of a sort; he and his wife have sex often, but rarely, perhaps never, with each other.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: While many of the men in the show know how to rock a suit, Lord Mountbatten is particularly well-dressed, and even passes on some of his passion for Savile Row to his nephew Charles.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Both he and his wife, Edwina, while fond enough of each other, carried on in what could be called an open marriage.
    Edwina: I'm all in favour of foreign affairs.

     Antony Armstrong-Jones 

The Right Honourable Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon

Played By: Matthew Goode (Season 2), Ben Daniels (Seasons 3&4)

A British photographer and film-maker, who marries Princess Margaret. Their relationship would prove to be turbulent for themselves, the Royal Family, and British society.

  • Bi the Way: Has relations not just with multiple women, but with a few men as well, something that the real Earl of Snowdon never outright confirmed, nor did he ever deny.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Male version; his unconventional irreverence is Margaret's main draw to "Tony."
  • Mistaken for Gay: Margaret believes he is "simply queer" after their first meeting. It's not that simple.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Played by the classically handsome Matthew Goode, and often shown to be in the nude.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Is constantly smoking, something he and Margaret have in common.
  • Rebel Relaxation: He's very laid back, even literally. At one point he's seen waiting resting on the floor of a large empty room of the Palace.
  • Really Gets Around: Crossed with Anything That Moves: exotic-looking dancers? Check. Young British couples? Check. Actresses? Check. Princess Margaret? He's had them all.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Suffers from a terrible case of this towards his mother, who is shown to be very cold and uncaring to him and to favor his step-brother. Tony sees himself (rightfully so) as The Unfavorite, the son born from an unsuccessful marriage with no title, and tries very hard to win his mother's favor. It's even implied that he married Margaret because he thought it would please his mother and help him to prove himself in her eyes. His mother actually ponders it, on their way to the wedding no less.
    Tony: I suppose I always thought that eventually you'd find it in you to admit that you're proud of me. Perhaps even that you love me.
    Anne Messel: Darling, I do hope you haven't done all this for me.
    (no answer)

     Prince Charles 

His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall

Played By: Billy Jenkins (Season 1&2), Julian Baring (Season 2), Josh O'Connor (Seasons 3&4)

The oldest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and heir to the throne.

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Philip gives out what would now be considered emotional abuse, because of his disappointment at Charles's disposition.
    • Elizabeth is also very distant with her son, implied to be because she can not see anything in Charles other than her own mortality as her heir and successor.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: The harsh and disciplined Gordonstoun, Philip's own alma mater, is hell for the empathetic and sensitive Charles, who described it as "Colditz in Kilts."
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Philip is driven to frustration by Charles' sensitive nature and dislike of physical activitynote . Philip's attempts at trying to connect with Charles are shown to fail as Philip can't help but start berating his son to become tougher.
  • Military Salute: Adorably does this when presenting Philip with his new rank insignia.
  • Modest Royalty: He was the first ever British royal heir to be sent to public schoolnote  rather than be educated by a private tutor. Unfortunately, his classmates all being well aware of his status leads to horrible bullying.note 
  • Nice to the Waiter: Even after a fight with his father has been distressing him, he is still well-mannered, even cheerful with some members of the Royal staff.
  • Parental Substitute: Due to a combination of emotionally distant parents and being sent away to boarding schools, Charles turns to others for emotional support including Lord Mountbattennote  and Donald Green, the detective assigned to guard him at Gordonstoun.
    • The end of "Paterfamilias" seems to imply he has a closer relationship to the childrens' governess than with either of his parents.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Charles and Philip.
  • Shopping Montage: Before Charles receives the news that he will be going to Gordonstoun, Lord Mountbatten takes him on a visit to "the finest house in Savile Row" to buy some very snappy clothes for Eton.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: At age 8, Elizabeth is distressed to see how formal he is with his father, even away from the cameras.

     Princess Anne 

Her Royal Highness Princess Anne

Played By: Amelia and Grace Gilmour (Seasons 1&2), Lyla Barrett-Rye (Season 2), Erin Doherty (Seasons 3&4)

The second child (and only daughter) of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

  • Daddy's Girl: The end of "Paterfamilias" shows her to be really excited at seeing her father home and he is much more affectionate with her than with Charles.
  • Parental Favoritism: Philip is shown to be more affectionate to her than with Charles.
  • Spare to the Throne: She spends most of Seasons 1 and 2 as the spare to Charles. By the end of Season 2, and the births of her younger brothers Andrew and Edward, she's been bumped down to fourth in line.
  • Tomboy Princess: Philip complains that "our daughter's a boy and our son is, God bless him, a girl."

     Prince Andrew 

His Royal Highness Prince Andrew

The third child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip and, due to being male, the second in line to the throne.

  • Dead Guy Junior: His parents briefly considered naming him "George", but he wasn't because there were too many Georges and nobody could live up to Elizabeth's Papa anyway. They end up naming him for Philip's father.
  • Spanner in the Works: His very conception forces Margaret to delay her wedding announcement, as royal protocol is that no other family news can precede the birth.
  • Spare to the Throne: Due to British male primogeniture laws of the time (overturned to become absolute primogeniture in the 21st century), he displaces Anne to become second in line to the throne at the moment of his birth.

     Prince Edward 

His Royal Highness Prince Edward

The Queen and Prince Philip's youngest child, and third in line to the throne.

  • Last Episode, New Character: The Season 2 finale covers Elizabeth's especially troubled pregnancy with him.
  • Spare to the Throne: Like his brother Andrew before him, he displaces Anne to become third in line to the throne at the moment of his birth.

     Princess Cecilie 

Her Royal Highness Princess Cecilie, The Hereditary Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine
Played By: Leonie Benesch

Prince Philip's third of his four sisters, and a member of the Greek royal family. A German princess by marriage to her cousin.

  • Affectionate Nickname: Although her given name was Cecilie, she was known to her family as Cécile.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: To a modern audience's sensibilities, Nazis are beyond the pale, but from the way she is presented as a supportive, caring character, it's difficult not to feel sorry for her, as her death is nothing short of horrific in every way possible.
  • Call-Back: She and her sisters are referenced in the very first episode, when Churchill loudly mentions Prince Philip's "Nazi sisters" at the royal wedding, though Cecilie only appears right at the end of Series 2.
  • Cool Big Sis: For Prince Philip, who looks to her for emotional support and a touch of levity in place of his ice-cold father and mentally-ill mother. He reminds Charles that Cecilie was his favourite sister.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Utterly terrified of flying at the best of times, Cecilie dies along with her husband Georg Donatus, their two young sons and Georg's mother when the aircraft in which they were travelling crashes in flames after hitting a factory chimney near Ostend, Belgium, killing all on board. Cecilie was eight months pregnant with her fourth child at the time of the crash, and the remains of the baby were found in the wreckage; a Belgian official enquiry concluded that Cecilie had given birth mid-flight. The crash-site is hauntingly depicted in episode 9 of Series 2, as Philip imagines himself picking his way through the wreckage.
  • Parental Favoritism: Prince Philip's father, Prince Andrew, acknowledges her as his favourite child after her death, and appears to blame Philip's acting up at school as the cause.
  • Posthumous Character: She appears throughout episode "Paterfamilias", which features flashbacks of Prince Philip's time at Gordonstoun, and the events surrounding her death.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: A rare example of a card-carrying Nazi depicted as a normal, seemingly nice young woman who dies in tragic circumstances.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Cecilie, her sisters, and her husband were prominent Nazis, which is acknowledged multiple times within the series, though she is presented as a perky, quite jolly young woman and displays none of the associated overtly villainous behaviour, apart from some over-zealous remarks about Hitler's mandate that his followers bear multiple children to bolster his available soldiers.

     Princess Marina 

Her Royal Highness Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent
Played By: Clare Holman

Prince Philip's cousin, the widow of the Queen's late uncle George. A member of the Greek royal family who married in, like Philip.

  • Coattail-Riding Relative: Absolutely viewed as such by Princess Margaret:
    Margaret: “Marina? She'd do well to remember her place. As a low-ranking member of your husband's refugee family, she's lucky to be here at all.”
    • Consider that Marina is both also a princess in her native Greece and Margaret's aunt.
  • Feuding Families: The Kents are utterly furious with the constant noise coming from the renovations Princess Margaret organises for her apartments at Kensington Palace — so much so that the slightly frazzled Marina is compelled to complain to the Queen herself about it.
  • Speak Truth To Power: She's Prince Philip's cousin and the Queen's aunt, and so has no compunction about animatedly complaining about Princess Margaret's unreasonably loud building work to the Queen herself, fearing no reproach, when most people would find it unthinkable to even bring the matter up.

Friends & Acquaintances of The Royal Family

     Lord Porchester 

The Honourable Henry "Porchey" Herbert, Lord Porchester
Played By: Joseph Kloska

A childhood friend of Elizabeth and her racing manager. Know as "Porchey", the two have a close friendship, something which creates tension between Elizabeth and Philip.

  • All Love Is Unrequited: The series implies, albeit gently, that he harbours feelings for the Queen — something that invokes the green-eyed monster in Philip after the two of them spend time together.
  • Birds of a Feather: He and the Queen share a passionate interest in horse breeding, racing, and husbandry.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Always known simply as "Porchey" to all friends and acquaintances. Confusingly, as the Queen points out, his father is also similarly monikered.
  • Nice Guy: Sweet, jolly and laid back — after Philip's drunken behaviour increases, the Queen seeks comfort in his presence.
  • Really Gets Around: Not necessarily him personally, though Philip points out that his father is a known womaniser, and that therefore every aristocratic family in England has a touch of Porchey in it.

     Billy Wallace 

Mr William Euan Wallace
Played By: Nick Hendrix

A friend of Princess Margaret and part of her active social circle. He proposes marriage to her, but the engagement does not last.

  • Dirty Coward: Upon hearing of his drunken boasts that he's sleeping around, despite being engaged to Margaret, a group of her male friends forces him into taking part in a duel with pistols. Despite his manly boasting, he's depicted kicking and screaming his way to the duel site. Furthermore, when Margaret gets sick of his smug boasting and moves towards him to deliver "The Reason You Suck" Speech, he quickly flinches back from her in fear.
  • On the Rebound: Margaret only really agrees to his proposal because she's still smarting from being forced to break it off with Peter.
  • Really Gets Around: Once his engagement to Margaret is announced, he finds himself on the end of increased female attention — and takes full advantage.
  • Ten Paces and Turn: In defence of her honour, he is forced by a zealous group of Margaret's male friends into taking part in an ancient Duel to the Death.
  • Unreliable Narrator: When Margaret discovers him lying drunk in bed with a pistol wound to the leg after his disastrous duel, he boasts that he manfully accepted the challenge — however, his blusterful narration is overlaid with imagery of him screaming and crying like a baby, begging for his life.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Despite a rather rushed engagement to Princess Margaret in 1956, he drunkenly boasts to her of his womanising to her very face.

     The Vyners 

Commander Clair and Lady Doris Vyner
Played By: David Yelland & Caroline Goodall

Friends of the Queen Mother, who invite her to stay with them in the aftermath of her husband's death.

  • Arcadian Interlude: Her trip to Scotland is viewed as such by the Queen Mother. The Vyners welcoming house is incredibly isolated — as the Queen remarks, it's "at the ends of the Earth" — and is situated in Dunnet on the far north east coast. To the Queen Mother, her native Scotland is absolute sanctuary from the chaos of London.
  • I Am Very British: The Vyners have very little, if any, trace of a Scottish accent, and provide a perfect example of the near onimpresent use of RP amongst the British aristocracy, from Lands End to John o’Groats — it is an accent of social class, as opposed to region.
  • Sacred Hospitality: They offer the Queen Mother a much-needed bolthole in her native Scotland.

     Camilla Shand 

Miss Camilla Shand

Played By: Emerald Fennell

A friend of Prince Charles. The two fall in love, but their relationship proves to have very drastic effects in the future.

  • Birds of a Feather: Both share a passion for horses, particularly the regal sport of polo.
  • First Love: Famously Prince Charles' first and only true love, Series 3 depicts the start of their relationship.
  • Preppy Name: Full name: Camilla Rosemary Shand, combining two stereotypically upper-class christian names with a surname that doesn't just sound inherently Sloaney, but also has ancient aristocratic connections.

     Lady Diana Spencer 

Lady Diana Frances Spencer

Played By: Emma Corrin

The future wife of the Prince of Wales and a member of the venerable Spencer family. She came to prominence in February 1981, following her engagement to the Prince.

  • The Beautiful Elite: Undoubtedly beautiful, and the daughter of an English Earl, cementing her elite-status from birth.
  • Blue Blood: Bluer even than Royal Family's, with a line stretching back to the early 1200s, her family are considered one the preeminent aristocratic families in England.
  • Nature Adores a Virgin: In 1981, Prince Charles was required to marry a blue-blooded virgin — 19 year old Diana fits the bill perfectly.
  • Young Future Famous People: Series 4 will depict the beginnings of her relationship with Charles when she was a relative unknown, but fast-forward to the time of her death and she was dubbed "the most famous woman in the world".

Her Majesty's Government

     Sir Winston Churchill 

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill
Played By: John Lithgow

"The party needs me. The country needs me. She needs me!"

Elizabeth's first Prime Minister. The man who led Britain during the Second World War, Churchill is a dominant, commanding figure with a legendary reputation and great respect from the public who, when Elizabeth becomes queen, has recently been elected to his second term as Prime Minister. However, it quickly becomes apparent both that his best days are long behind him and that he stubbornly refuses to accept this fact.

  • Born in the Wrong Century: Well, born in the right century, he just lived far past it: Winston is truly one of the last Victorians, banging on about the Empire and uninterested in domestic affairs, hopelessly out of touch with the changing world and changing Britain of the 1950s.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Subverted. Churchill is a Living Legend with weird habits like taking his dog to cabinet meetings or having his daily briefings read to him while he's in the tub. But while he used to be a brilliant leader despite his quirks, due to old age, he no longer is.
  • The Cameo: A single appearance in Series 2 during a few WWII brief flashbacks.
  • Cigar Chomper: He's often seen smoking a cigar.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: While most officials at No. 10 and in the Royal household wear contemporary suits, his uniform, even for an average workday, is a morning coat and bow tie.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Assassins" is set during his 80th birthday and chronicles his private life and struggles during the painting of his portrait.
  • Drink Order: Averted. Elizabeth offers tea "or something stronger" at their first private audience, but he adheres to the Victorian tradition of the Sovereign never offering refreshment to the Prime Minister.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Crybaby," per the Duke of Windsor. Winston goes on to prove him right, at least a little, by tearing up while reminiscing about his friendship with the late King.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When he arrives at Elizabeth's wedding, after making sure that he is the last of the guests to arrive, he delays until the choir starts singing "I Vow to Thee My Country", and strides into the abbey, every bit the great statesmen he presents himself as, even though at the time, he was still the Leader of the Opposition. He even gives a loud aside to his wife disapproving of Lord Mountbatten's presiding over Indian independence and remarking that Philip's sisters married prominent Nazis, establishing him as a staunch Imperialist clinging to the glory of the good old days. Though the former part of his establishing moment is arguably subverted when he finally returns to power a few years after, in which is it made clear that despite the appearances of the great statesman he is ultimately no longer up to the job.
  • Fake Brit: John Lithgow is American.
  • Glory Days: His arc on the series is essentially this; while he still commands respect due to leading Britain during the Second World War, it is made abundantly clear that his wartime reputation is the only reason he manages to keep his job; he is not up to the job of leading a modern Britain, is increasingly frail and failing, is barely interested in anything except foreign affairs, and refuses to accept that both his time as an effective leader and Britain's time as a dominant global power has passed.
  • Grumpy Old Man: As cranky as they come.
  • Happily Married: To Clementine; he is always at his most candid with her.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Always greets Elizabeth this way.
  • Ironic Echo: A subtle example, but one which demonstrates Character Development. At his first audience with the Queen, he is shocked and flustered when she politely offers him a seat and a beverage, insisting that according to tradition the Sovereign never offers the Prime Minister such comforts. This immediately establishes both his tradition-bound nature and his authority over the young, inexperienced Queen. At his last audience with the Queen, however, he is sitting in an armchair with a cup of tea beside him, having come to accept that he's too old to go on and it's time to retire (and by extension, heralding some modernising changes).
  • Living Legend: Which is why Elizabeth is a little daunted to have him as her first Prime Minister.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: A hilarious inversion during Elizabeth's wedding, when Clementine and a choir boy shush him after he complains about Philip's sisters' choice of husbands.
    Winston: You know why his three sisters aren't here...
    Clemmie: Shhh.
    Winston: They're all married to Nazis!
    Clemmie: Oh, do shut up.
    Choir boy: Shhh!
  • Only Friend: The only political ally and relevant sympathizer of Edward VIII during the constitutional crisis and one of the few people who never really speaks ill of the late monarch, despite knowing the full extent of his transgressions. It's not reciprocal, as the Duke of Windsor has enough contempt for everybody. His friendship has its limits, however; when the Duke tries to bring up the issue of Wallace Simpson being granted the title of Her Royal Highness he is bluntly shot down.
  • Passing the Torch: His reluctant and slow relinquishment of the leadership in favour of Eden causes much friction.
  • Perilous Old Fool: It's made clear that age has diminished him. He sleeps through most meetings, sees everything in the context of his Glory Days, and is laid out by frequent ill health. Eventually, Elizabeth is forced to confront him with the constitutional requirement for the Prime Minister to be of sound body and mind, convincing him to resign.
  • Skewed Priorities: Part of what fuels the crisis in "Act of God" is that Churchill, who just sees the Great Smog enveloping London and causing chaos as a bit of bad weather, gets a bee in his bonnet about Prince Philip taking up flying as a hobby and begins to fixate on preventing that rather than doing anything about the fact that London has been virtually brought to a lawless standstill by the smog.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Elizabeth's reaction when she finds out he's been keeping information about his health from her.

     Sir Anthony Eden 

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Anthony Eden
Played By: Jeremy Northam

Foreign Secretary to Churchill both during the war and his second government, and eventually Elizabeth's second Prime Minister. He is ambitious and determined to achieve what he views as his rightful place as Churchill's successor, but his own ill-health and the changing world will prove challenging in ways he did not expect.

  • Badass Moustache: Has an impressive war record and impressive facial hair to match.
  • Cunning Linguist: Views himself as such because of his grasp of Arabic.
  • Descent into Addiction: Eden suffered from a botched gall bladder operation and takes heavy doses of painkillers and other medications to deal with it. It seriously affects his judgment and ability to perform in office and gets so bad after the Suez Crisis that he has to take some weeks off to recover in Jamaica.
  • Humiliation Conga: He starts Season 2 with a pompous speech about continuing his alma mater's distinguished history of PMs. Then the Suez Crisis hits, and he's initially not worried at all since the Egyptians will still need the British pilots to navigate it. The Soviets promptly pounce and start training the locals, at which he's pushed by Macmillan to go to war. Rather than do so openly, he goes behind Parliment's backs and colludes with the Israelis to launch their own attack, which blows up in his face and gives a big hit to Britain's international reputation. Finally he's forced to retire, to be replaced by Macmillan.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He schemes to nudge Churchill into retirement partly because of his own ambitions to be Prime Minister, but also because he (not entirely incorrectly) believes that Churchill is too old, too tired, and too fixated on international affairs rather than the domestic issues facing the country to effectively do the job.
  • Number Two: Of the Conservatives, and decidedly gunning for the first spot. He really wants to be Prime Minister. Due to his declining health, Churchill was largely a figurehead in the 1951-55 government and Eden is effectively the man governing the nation.
  • The Peter Principle: A remarkable foreign secretary who opposed Hitler before the war and a competent deputy to Winston Churchill for almost 15 years. The Conservative Party wins the 1951 and 1955 elections thanks to Eden, but when he succeeds Winston and becomes the head of the country, his premiership quickly collapses in 1956 after a series of blunders in the Suez Crisis and his image becomes tarnished beyond repair.
  • The Proud Elite: Fully embraces his alma mater Eton's elitist reputation.
  • Sore Loser: Visibly irritated at how well his colleagues receive Churchill's eulogy for King George VI, knowing they are now less inclined to remove him as leader. Eden exits as soon as the address is finished, leaving the room abuzz.
  • Tough Act to Follow: In-universe. Whilst doing so much of the work, Eden lives under the shadow of the great war leader and national myth Churchill. When Eden's time comes, he tries to invoke Churchill's past rhetoric and èlan as the head of a great power, but Eden mishandles the Suez Crisis and is forced to resign.

     Lord Salisbury 

The Most Honourable Robert "Bobbety" Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury
Played By: Clive Francis

A high-ranking Conservative politician and member of Churchill's government.

  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Like the real Lord Salisbury, he is unable to pronounce Rs.
  • In the Blood: When he is being scolded by Elizabeth for hiding the health problems of Churchill and Eden, she muses that the phrase, "History teaches never trust a Cecil", as being more appropriate than previously thought.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: No one ever calls him by his name. Louis Mountbatten calls him Bobbety Salisbury, throwing in his title.

     Harold Macmillan 

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Played By: Anton Lesser

Elizabeth's third Prime Minister. As Eden's Chancellor of the Exchequer, he proves a ruthless and cunning politician, but despite his political successes his personal life and weaknesses increasingly take a toll on him.

  • Awful Wedded Life: Is very much aware of his wife's distaste for him and her long-term relationship with another man.
  • Butt-Monkey: Is in the audience while a troupe of comedians make fun of his mannerisms and moustache. He tries to show he can laugh at himself; after the comedians spot him, it becomes clear he cannot. (His wife and her lover, for their part, enjoyed the show immensely.)
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After arrogantly telling Eden that "there's no justice in politics" when taking his place as Prime Minister, he ultimately can't handle the pressure and mockery directed toward him.
  • Motor Mouth: He can not just shut up when explaining to Elizabeth the significance of the Sputnik satellite's launch and the importance of repairing Anglo-American relations. Both his wife and Philip are clearly exasperated by his tirade.
  • Secretly Selfish: Philip accuses him of this over his decision to resign right in the middle of Elizabeth's pregnancy, noting that for all his politeness and appearance of integrity he took the action most convenient to him alone.
  • The Starscream: Despite being one of the most vocal proponents for war during the Suez Crisis, he distances himself from the decision when the backlash focuses on Eden and sets himself up to become Prime Minister.

     Clement Attlee 

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Clement Attlee

Played By: Simon Chandler

The Leader of the Opposition when Elizabeth takes the throne, having been Prime Minister before Churchill's return to power. A cautious and uncharismatic man, he is nevertheless well-respected by the public for his bold, innovative policies.

  • Artistic License – History: At one point, Churchill describes Attlee — to King George VI, no less — with "an empty taxi pulled up before the House of Commons, and Mr. Attlee got out." While this quote is attributed to Churchill, and the two Prime Ministers were hardly friends, Churchill denied ever saying it, remarking that he respected Attlee's loyalty and service in his government during the war and publicly denounced the quote and anyone who said it. At very least, even if he did express the sentiment in private it's unlikely he would do Attlee the severe discourtesy of expressing it before the King.
  • Boring, but Practical: The series mostly show his boring side, but he soundly defeated Churchill in 1945 after all. The historical Attlee is ranked the greatest British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is remembered as the father of the welfare state.
  • Butt-Monkey: Much mocked around for his perceived dullness.
    Winston: An empty taxi pulled up at the House of Commons, and Mr. Attlee got out.
    George VI: Quite.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Visibly annoyed when the entire audience at Elizabeth's wedding stands up upon Churchill's arrival, even though he is the sitting Prime Minister at the time.
    Eden: There's poor old Attlee. He's our Prime Minister. No one got up for him.
  • Foil: Much like his rival Churchill, he's been a top politician for decades, and losing the 1951 election doesn't preclude him from leading the Labour opposition afterwards for some more years. Winston tries to be grandiose and flamboyant, while Attlee is portrayed as uninteresting and meek. They both retired in 1955. However, they contrast in one key respect; Attlee, for all his lack of charisma, is described by one character as having been one of the most radical, effective and innovative Prime Ministers of recent memory. Conversely Churchill, for all his charisma, is clearly demonstrated to be an out-of-touch spent force with no new ideas and no real ability to govern a changing, modern Britain. Many historians would agree that this pretty accurately sums up the two as Prime Ministers (with regard to Churchill's second term, at least).
  • Genre Savvy: In "Act of God" he is skeptical about a member of the Churchill government going behind Winston Churchill's back to give him information about Churchill turning down documents from the Meteorological Society warning of a toxic fog coming to London. He cites the Aeneid "Beware of the Greeks even when they bear gifts."

     Alec Douglas-Home 

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home, 14th Earl of Home

Played By: David Annen

Elizabeth's fourth (and shortest-serving) Prime Minister.

  • Blue Blood: Since he was a sitting member of the House of Lords at the time of his appointment, there is not an inconsiderable amount of backlash when he becomes Prime Minister. He would later disclaim his peerage and win a Commons seat in a by-election, but his being an aristocrat would provide fodder for his parliamentary rival, Harold Wilson.
  • Last Episode, New Character: To an extent. His totally offscreen introduction as the new Prime Minister, succeeding Macmillan after only a brief previous appearance (as the foreign secretary in "Dear Mrs. Kennedy", where he is not named).

     Harold Wilson 

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Harold Wilson

Played By: Jason Watkins

Elizabeth's fifth Prime Minister, and her first to be the leader of the Labour Party. A charismatic and wily individual, he'd become the dominant figure of British politics during the Swinging Sixties.

The Royal Household

     Peter Townsend 

Group Captain Peter Townsend
Played By: Ben Miles

A former RAF commander and equerry to King George VI. By the time of the King's death and Elizabeth's elevation to the throne, he has been in a secret relationship with Princess Margaret for several years. The two are devoted to each other, but numerous public and personal obstacles to their relationship will test this devotion.

  • Ace Pilot: He was a Hurricane pilot during the Battle of Britain and logged several confirmed kills, although he is hesitant to speak about his wartime experiences.
  • Age-Gap Romance: There was a 16 year age gap between him and Margaret. And a more extreme example of this trope would be his marriage to a 19-year-old — when he was 45.
  • Amicable Exes: Reportedly, with his ex-wife.
  • Humble Hero: When Philip brings up his dashing war record, Peter is deflective, answering he downed one or two planes. In reality, Townsend got 9 confirmed aerial victories, 2 shared and 2 more unconfirmed before he became equerry to the King in 1944.
  • Meaningful Look: Exchanges one of these with Margaret at breakfast. Elizabeth picks up on this.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Appointed air attaché at the Brussels British Embassy, which is just an honourable manner to exile him away from Margaret.
  • Star Crossed Lover: His romance with Princess Margaret has too many obstacles to overcome and is finally ended by a Royal veto.
  • The Stoic: To the extent that Philip considers him far too dull to marry Margaret.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Well, he is played by Ben Miles.

    Sir Tommy Lascelles 

Private Secretary Sir Alan "Tommy" Lascelles

Played By: Pip Torrens

"You need to understand how things are done here."

Private Secretary to King George VI, and Elizabeth's first Private Secretary upon becoming Queen. A stoic, reserved and formal man, he is devoted to serving and protecting the monarchy — at any cost.

  • Always on Duty: Tommy spots Elizabeth arriving unexpectedly at his home while looking out the window of his study. Within seconds, he has donned a jacket and is greeting her at the door as if he had been expecting her the entire time.
  • Badass Moustache: A highly competent and dominating handler and advisor with a fitting moustache that enhances his powerful presence. During Philip's investiture as a British prince, we see Tommy in the background with the other old-fashioned courtiers, or "moustaches," whom Philip resents.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Often the bearer of harsh truths and bad news, like Adeane after him, but without Adeane's visible reluctance. It’s left to Lascelles to reveal the extent of the former Edward VIII’s involvement with the Nazis to the abdicated monarch’s niece.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Tommy never raises his voice, but it can get distinctly more clipped if you piss him off. A quick way to do this is to insult the memory of King George VI, as the Duke of Windsor discovers in Season 1.
      Nothing weak about the late king, sir. I'm sure I speak for everyone present when I call him a hero.
    • Pretty much anything involving the Duke and Duchess of Windsor puts Tommy in an especially bad mood, as he was Private Secretary to the Sovereign at the beginning of Edward VIII's reign.
    • Even reminders of the Duke of Windsor make his mood considerably worse; his patience with Peter Townsend, already thin, runs out completely right after Peter breaks out the phrase "the woman I love."
  • Bookworm: The real-life Tommy Lascelles was known as a prodigious reader. In the show, when he "unexpectedly" meets Eileen Parker in the park, he is reading a tome about the campaigns of Napoleon.
  • British Stuffiness: Incarnate. He's incredibly strait-laced, and views any sort of frivolity, modernity or suggestiveness with deep suspicion, disapproval, and occasionally outright zealotry.
  • Canine Companion: Tommy lets his two Scottish deerhounds join him on the couch and, at one point, in Michael Adeane's office. (The two dogs, with their solemn expressions and scruffy faces, have something of an Uncatty Resemblance to Tommy.)
  • Character Tics: The viewer can tell Lascelles is alive while addressing someone because he locks his hands behind his back and moves his fingers nervously.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Pairs a cigarette with a glass of whiskey soon after George VI's death.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: Even watching television at home, he always wears a necktie.
  • The Comically Serious: His stone-faced but yet contemptuous demeanour when addressing very delicate matters makes him unexpectedly hilarious.
  • Commuting on a Bus: After his official retirement, he's still called to manage sensitive situations with some frequency.
  • The Consigliere: Or "henchman," as Margaret puts it, to Elizabeth (and the three monarchs who preceded her).
  • Cool Car: When Tommy runs into the Queen in the front drive of Buckingham Palace, she mistakes his Rolls-Royce for one of the Royal cars; in fact, as he tells her, the car and its driver were part of his retirement package.
  • Disapproving Look: Tommy is the god of this, and can always be counted on to make one whenever anyone besmirches the good name of the Royal Family — or, worse when members of the Royal Family besmirch themselves.
  • The Dreaded: Viewed as this by anti-traditionalists such as Philip. A frightful, almost ominous, unmovable guardian of the old ways.
    Philip: Go and see him, in an unofficial capacity. For sherry or tea. Or human blood, whatever that monster drinks.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: After multiple reviews praised the performance of Pip Torrens and the entertainment of his character, the writers brought Tommy back repeatedly in Season 2, despite his ostensible retirement.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first time we see Tommy, he is coming to collect the King, who is in the middle of exchanging bawdy jokes with Peter Townsend. Tommy does not so much as twitch his moustache with mirth, maintaining his steely gaze and ramrod posture as he reminds the King that it is time to leave for Elizabeth's wedding.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Is very against any deviations from tradition, but when the Great Smog hits and Churchill seemingly does nothing, even he implies he wouldn't mind the Queen bending the rules and getting rid of Churchill.
  • Gentleman Snarker: He doesn't break out his deadpan snark often, but when he does, it's ever so gentlemanly.
  • Good Is Not Nice: From a traditional monarchist perspective, at least; while he's not exactly cuddly about it, everything he does is intended to defend and preserve the institution of the monarchy.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • In Season 2, the Queen pays Tommy a call to ask for his advice to find him painstakingly recreating the battle of Salamanca with hand-painted, historically accurate miniature figurines on a to-scale three-dimensional map of the battleground.
    • Also apparently is fond of fly fishing (he examines salmon flies through a magnifying glass in Season 1) and hunting (he tests a rifle scope in Season 2).
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Goes behind Elizabeth's back to browbeat her favoured secretary into refusing the position. When Elizabeth confronts him, he argues that breaking longstanding traditions can corrode the heart of the monarchy, as just Edward VIII's actions nearly toppled it. In general, while Lascelles is curt, forceful and inclined to trample on people when he deems it necessary, his every action is based on a sincere respect for the monarchy and desire to protect it.
  • Karma Houdini: Downplayed. The one time he's proven to be wrong (in the case of a tone-deaf speech) and Elizabeth has a chance to call out her conservative staff and threaten to fire Adeane and others of the old guard, she has no idea he endorsed the speech and he's already retired.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Admits his own marriage has often been one of these. This is Truth in Television as Lascelles' real-life diaries indicate that his wife and children spent most of their time at their home in the country, but frequently visited him in London.
  • Magnificent Bastard: His traditionalism and stuffiness are often deeply frustrating to members of the Royal Family he serves, and occasionally his colleagues. However, his instincts are almost always correct, and he explains his positions so calmly and intelligently that objections are quickly put to rest. He continues to act as an unofficial adviser to other courtiers after his retirement.
  • Nice Hat: Dons a top hat for Margaret's wedding.
  • No Sympathy: Totally unconcerned with the emotional impact of Margaret and Peter Townsend's forced separation.
    Elizabeth: Sending him away will break my sister's heart.
    Tommy: Hearts mend.
  • Number Two: As Private Secretary to the Sovereign, Tommy was this to George VI, and should be this to Elizabeth, but he often acts on the Queen Mother's instructions instead.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Is the main force behind frustrating the modernizing energies of Philip, and Margaret's affair with Peter, often on the instruction of the Queen Mother.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: After Elizabeth tells off the Duke of Windsor, Philip comes home at night and reveals he spent the evening drinking to Elizabeth's victory with the Queen Mother and Tommy.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: His real first name was actually Alan, but in-series everyone calls him by his nickname of "Tommy."
  • Perpetual Frowner: His face almost seems frozen in this constant disapproving frown.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Three-piece suit, bowler hat, umbrella, Received Pronunciation, Rolls-Royce, impeccable vocabulary, stuffy as they come, works for the bloody Queen. He is, indeed, very British.
  • Sliding Down The Slippery Slope: Believes that this is how Edward VIII's abdication crisis came about: he started with small acts of selfishness that snowballed into bigger ones. That's why Tommy is so uptight whenever Elizabeth wants to break protocol.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: For a very brief moment soon after George VI's death, he appears to be blinking away tears when speaking fondly of the King.
    A kind and generous offer, as befits the widow of a kind... (pause) and generous man.
  • The Stoic: He's rather serene, firm and monotone in his deportment. Even when he talks, he barely moves a muscle and his frown delivers a great deal of his authoritative message instead. It's almost sinister.
  • Taking the Heat: Desperate to get Peter Townsend out of the way to preserve the Royal Family's reputation, he offers to let Elizabeth blame him for sending Townsend to Brussels earlier than expected. It could be argued that his entire job is to basically take the heat for the Royal Family by acting as the stone-faced, unflinching fixer for their every need, whether they realise (or appreciate) it or not.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the Royal Family — to the levels of a guardian deity.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: The Freelanced Professional variety, whenever the Royal household needs help managing a particularly sensitive crisis.

     Michael Adeane 

Private Secretary Michael Adeane

Played By: Will Keen

Elizabeth's second Private Secretary, upon the retirement of Tommy Lascelles. A competent but generally unimaginative man, he tends to defer to Lascelles.

  • Beard of Evil: Philip resents the more conservative courtiers, or "the moustaches," who restrict his behaviour. To make him feel better, the Queen asks Michael to shave his moustache. He complies.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Often, and uncomfortably.
  • The Generic Guy: He's a rather bland and unremarkable lackey, prone to fall back to Lascelles and let him manage tough issues.
  • Happily Married: He and his wife don't like being away from each other for too long.
  • Number Two: Somewhat averted, as despite being Private Secretary to the Sovereign, his first action in any crisis is to call the now retired Tommy.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Elizabeth gives Adeane what might be called an "almighty bollocking" over the poorly received speech he wrote for her.

     Martin Charteris 

Lieutenant Colonel Martin Charteris

Played By: Harry Haddon-Paton

Elizabeth's Private Secretary when she was merely Princess Elizabeth, upon her elevation to the throne Charteris was demoted to Assistant Private Secretary. Nonetheless, Elizabeth likes him and continues to consider him a valued advisor.

  • As You Know: When Martin reminds Elizabeth about how regnal names work, to the point of reminding her what her father and uncle's names were.
  • Cassandra Truth: He tries to warn about how tone-deaf the Queen's speech was to Lascelles and Adeane but was brushed off as a whining, pessimistic "progressive or liberal." He turned out right when the backlash came at her.
  • Number Two: As Elizabeth's Private Secretary before her accession, he later becomes the Junior Deputy Secretary to the Sovereign under Tommy Lascelles.
  • Oh, Crap!: Has this reaction when a Reuters reporter turns on the radio in the hotel lounge at Nairobi and hears of George VI's death, he immediately rushes to Sagana before Elizabeth can hear the news from any other source.
  • Spare to the Throne: Played with; Elizabeth jokes that Adeane and Charteris are, respectively, "the heir and the spare" to Lascelles.

     Mike Parker 

Lieutenant Commander Michael Parker

Played by: Daniel Ings

A Royal Navy officer who serves as the Private Secretary to Prince Philip. He's very good friends with the prince and very much enjoys his work — and the opportunities for pleasure that come with it...

  • Married to the Job: His and his ex-wife Eileen's story shows how working for the Royal Family could break a toll on your personal and familial life; when he wasn't cheating on Eileen, he was often too busy working for Philip or hanging out with him and the Navy to even call his daughter on her birthday.
  • The Prankster: Philip asks him to help Charles kick a soccer ball properly. Mike does so, telling Charles to aim directly for Philip.
    Not bloody bad, Charles!
  • Toxic Friend Influence: He doesn't seem to be the best of influences on Philip, encouraging his habit of drinking and partying (and possible but unspecified adultery).
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He sends letters bragging about his sexual conquests to the Thursday Club against protocol, until his wife finally has enough and gets her hands on one, making it public knowledge and calling Philip's fidelity into question given their close friendship.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: One reason why Eileen decided to divorce him. He was always away a lot and he didn't bother to acknowledge their daughter's birthday.
  • Your Cheating Heart: A major (and legal) reason Eileen divorced him, he was cheating on her and spending more time with his mistresses and at his job than with her and the kids.

Foreign Dignitaries and Leaders

     Gamal Abdel Nasser 

President Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein

Played By: Amir Boutrous

The second president of Egypt. A committed anti-colonialist, his desire for a completely independent Egypt free from the influence of the European powers will set off a chain of events leading to the Suez Crisis.

  • No Sense Of Humour: Is totally impervious to Eden's charms.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: He's incredibly offended when Eden and his entourage turn up to a diplomatic dinner in dinner jackets, and he apparently didn't get the note on the dress-code. Though Eden believes, and it's heavily implied, that Nassar actually knows exactly what's going on and any offense is actually insincere and stage-managed in order to create anti-British sentiment that will enable Nasser to more easily win the support of the people for his goals.
  • Rebel Leader: Nasser led the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy and introduced far-reaching land reforms in Egypt the following year. In July 1956 he decided to seize and nationalise the Suez Canal, which until then had been administrated by the British military. We see this play out in the very first episode of Series 2, when Egyptian soldiers burst into the headquarters of the Suez Canal company in Port Said, as Nasser makes a speech to an enthusiastic crowd about the need for Egypt to take back its own resources.

     President Kennedy 

President John F. Kennedy

Played By: Michael C. Hall

The 35th President of the United States of America. A young and glamorous figure, his charm and energy contrasts greatly with the stuffy antiquated formality of the British monarchy, but also with the private life he keeps hidden from the public.

  • The Charmer: As per real life, JFK is depicted as a charming, slightly roguish character with a winning smile and easy confidence — in public anyway.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The Kennedys are depicted as habitual drug users, who take uppers and downers to help them get through the rigours of public life and dealing with the media. How true this was is a contentious matter and still up for debate.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: He's over-familiar and both he and his wife use the incorrect forms of address, referring to the Queen as "Royal Majesty" — much to the (humorous) consternation of the Queen's private secretaries.
  • Warts and All: Very much how he and his wife are presented; — his controlling behaviour behind the scenes is explored in unflinching detail.

     Jackie Kennedy 

Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady of The United States

Played By: Jodie Balfour

The wife of John F. Kennedy. As young and glamourous as her husband, she is the subject of much envy and insecurity on the part of Elizabeth, but also the source of some unexpected commonalities.

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jackie is depicted as being sweet and chatty with the Queen in person, only to cut her up — especially her dress sense — behind her back.
  • Break the Haughty: After the Queen is made aware of Jackie's bitchy comments about both her dress sense and Buckingham Palace itself (a "2nd rate country hotel"), she decides to bring out the big guns and contrives a luncheon à deux at the monumentally splendid Windsor Castle. Jackie, feeling suitably sheepish and overawed by the setting, apologises for her rudeness.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The drugs her husband's doctor administers causes her to lose her sense of decorum and become rather loose-lipped — which includes bad-mouthing the Queen, after acting sweet as pie to her face.
  • Dude Magnet: Many of the Palace staff and even Prince Philip himself are captivated by her.
  • The Fashionista: As per real life, Mrs. Kennedy's fashion sense is absolutely on-point for the period — something which makes the Queen feel rather frumpy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After she finds out that Elizabeth has been made aware of her bitchy remarks, she behaves far more sheepishly during a luncheon with the Queen at Windsor Castle, and apologises for her behaviour.
  • Not So Different: It's suggested that both Elizabeth and Jackie are ultimately rather shy women who would be much happier living a life outside of the spotlight. Which is partly why Elizabeth is so hurt when she learns that Jackie has been making snide comments about her behind her back.
  • Proud Beauty: Despite the splendour of her surroundings, Buckingham Palace falls to impress her (which is slightly ludicrous, given its sheer size and opulence).
  • Warts and All: The legendary American icon is depicted as rather more fragile than normal, and something of a snide bitch.

Other Characters

     Clementine Churchill 

Dame Clementine "Clemmie" Churchill
Played By: Harriet Walter

"I had hoped I'd seen the back of this place."

The wife of Winston Churchill. Loyal and devoted to her husband, her devotion extends to trying to help him realise that he is no longer the man of energy and accomplishment that he believes himself to be.

  • Burn Baby Burn: Her solution to the loathed Sutherland portrait.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Churchill accuses her of doing this to his portrait painter, Graham Sutherland. She doesn't deny it.
  • Happily Married: To Sir Winston.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Openly unhappy about living at 10 Downing Street a second time.
  • Parenting the Husband: Clemmie has to do this on a few occasions.
    • She commands Winston (in a whisper) to shut up as he rather loudly reminds her why Philip's sisters were not invited to the royal wedding... in the middle of the royal wedding.
    • After Winston's stroke, she lectures him for deceiving the Queen about the extent of his health problems. She orders him back to bed in case the excitement of President Eisenhower's upcoming visit becomes too much for him... which it does seconds later.

     Venetia Scott 

Miss Venetia Scott
Played By: Kate Phillips

"You were 24. All energy and hope and passion and fire. It's remarkable."

A personal secretary to the Prime Minister.

  • Audience Surrogate: As she experiences the particulars and peculiarities of life working at Number 10, so do we.
  • Composite Character: Winston Churchill never had a secretary named Venetia Scott. However, her experiences as his secretary are in line with that of his many real-life secretaries.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: After reading Winston's memoirs, she is inspired to make her own mark on the world however she can. Her death makes enough of a mark on Winston that he calls for a public inquiry into the cause of the Great Smog, which eventually leads to the Clean Air Act 1956.
  • Determinator: After walking her sick roommate through the Great Smog to the hospital, she tells the skeptical doctor she can get the Prime Minister to supply more money. After he mocks her, she immediately sets off to do just that, with tragic results.
    I'll show you!
  • Girl Friday: To Winston.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold
  • Hero-Worshipper
  • Look Both Ways: Subverted in that the Great Smog basically makes this impossible.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Averted; she's had enough disappointing one-night stands that she'd rather read Winston's memoirs at home than join her roommate at the pub.
  • Morality Pet: To Winston; her death during the Great Smog finally makes him see it as more than just extreme weather.
  • Plucky Office Girl: She manages to get her friend to a hospital amidst the toxic fog and vows to get the government involved... only to get run over by a bus.
  • Satellite Character: Subverted. While most of what we know of her character revolves around her relationship with Winston, we also get to meet her roommate, see her neighbourhood and learn a little bit about her family.
  • Surprise Car Crash

     Graham Sutherland 

Mr Graham Sutherland

Played By: Stephen Dillane

An English artist of the modernist school, who is commissioned by both Houses of Parliament to paint a portrait of Winston Churchill to celebrate his eightieth birthday. Devoted to capturing truth within his art, his refusal to be bound by the idealistic and mythic view of Churchill that the man himself holds and promotes leads to painful realisations and tension.

  • Friendly Enemy: Sutherland is a modernist, something that hardly fails to get the deeply conservative (both in art and politics) Churchill's back up, and he accuses Sutherland at several points of being a "socialist." Nevertheless, Sutherland sincerely claims to have accepted the commission because he is an admirer of Churchill, and the two men end up finding some points of commonality and friendship. This is partly why Churchill reacts so poorly to the portrait that Sutherland ends up painting; he views it as a personal betrayal as well as political sabotage.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: From Churchill's perspective, at least; he initially accuses Sutherland of performing a cruel character assassination with his portrait, but ultimately cannot argue when Sutherland retorts that all he did was paint the truth, and the truth — as much as Churchill tries to pretend otherwise — is simply that Churchill is an elderly man in the twilight of his life.
    Sutherland: I showed those sketches to your wife throughout. She remarked on how accurate they were.
    Churchill: That is the whole point! It is not a reasonably truthful image of me!
    Sutherland: It is, sir.
    Churchill: It is not! It is cruel!
    Sutherland: [Finally snapping] AGE IS CRUEL! If you see decay, it’s because there’s decay. If you see frailty, it’s because there’s frailty. I can’t be blamed for what is, and I refuse to hide and disguise what I see. If you are engaged in a fight with something, then it’s not with me. It’s with your own blindness.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Mrs. Churchill describes him as "a bit of a Heathcliff"
  • Warts and All: What Churchill dislikes about his portrait by Sutherland, as he wanted the portrait to show him as Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister and Statesmen, not Winston Churchill, a tired, 80-year-old man. After arguing with Sutherland about the portrait, he admits privately to his wife that the portrait is the truth, and he can do nothing about it. As in real life, Lady Churchill later has the portrait burned as the episode ends.
  • Wham Line: Compared to Stephen Dillane's otherwise understated delivery, his "AGE IS CRUEL!!!" really hits home.

     Eileen Parker 

Mrs Eileen Parker

Played By: Chloe Pirrie

The wife of Mike Parker, Philip's Private Secretary. She has a much less glowing view of his life and connections to royalty than he does.

  • Awful Wedded Life: She is married to Mike and is very unhappy with him, and it doesn't help that he isn't there for the children and cheats on her. She decides to get a divorce as soon as she could.
  • Mama Bear: One of the this is one of the things that motivate her to finally get a divorce, he neglected to call their daughter to wish her happy birthday.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: She delivers one to Tommy and Elizabeth, telling them that the work with the Royal family damages family and marital relations of their employees.

     Lady Dorothy Macmillan 

Lady Dorothy Macmillan

Played By: Sylvestra Le Touzel

The wife of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. They do not have a particularly happy relationship.

  • Fat Bitch: She is very heavyset and has a very unpleasant (to the point of emotionally abusive) attitude towards Harold.
  • Your Cheating Heart: She has a boyfriend on the side for years, but their trysts are depicted as less of an issue than her disrespect of her husband is.

     Lord Altrincham 

The Right Honourable John Grigg, 2nd Baron Altrincham

Played By: John Heffernan

An English aristocrat and journalist, who holds views on the antiquated and out-of-touch nature of the monarchy and need for modernisation that causes much controversy.


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