Photos courtesy of Netflix.

Here, a cheeky cheat sheet that gives you the juicy details on the second season of the Netflix hit, The Crown, which arrives Dec. 8.

In the second season of The Crown, creator Peter Morgan's biographical drama continues in its focus and fascination with Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy).

With a who's who of English character actors, the Netflix series covers British monarchy's personal milestones structured around landmark world events like Suez, Sputnik and the Profumo Affair. Even with 10 episodes covering the ground from 1956 to 1963, it can at times feel like Mad Men is making a mad dash through Downton Abbey. It's occasionally apocryphal, at times blasphemous and often deliciously interpretive with taking creative license. But truth is often stranger than fiction.

 

Philip prepares to deliver his Christmas address.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder
If The Crown's first season dealt with the fallout of the Abdication Crisis, this one is about identity crisis—the Queen's personal, marital and institutional identity. She's faced with a changed world after the war and a changed marriage after ascending the throne.

The wives of Windsor are not so merry and this season's oft-repeated "She got on with it" could well be the original, "Nevertheless, she persisted." Elizabeth is feeling lonely and isolated and this is before she sends Philip on a punitive five-month tour. Or as one cocktail waitress calls it, "a five-month stag night." Off he goes, to enjoy a high-seas bromance with his oldest friend and have the simple pleasures of a ship-wide beard-growing competition—it's Movember, before Movember was a thing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or does it? Eileen Parker, wife of the aforementioned oldest friend/private secretary/wingman, doesn't think so. In real life they did divorce due to Parker's absence and infidelity, and when she sold the story to the tabloids, because of his high position in Philip's entourage, the whole thing did threaten the image of the royal marriage. The divorce also cost Parker his job. Lesson: Discretion is the better part of valour.

Granted, life can't be much fun married to a Queen who reads horsey books like Bloodstock Breeding at bedtime, though it makes for a good visual pun when they chat about Margaret's future marriage prospects. The shadow of Philip's rumoured indiscretions persists throughout the series, as it does—and did—in real life.

Emblematic of this is the Thursday Club, the rowdy group of men (David Niven and onetime Poirot Peter Ustinov, among them) that he assembled, and who met weekly in the private room at Wheeler's in Soho to let off steam and generally carouse. There's one dancing girl in particular introduced to the story, a device in the episode to suggest how much his wife knew (or at least, suspected) and the private humiliations the Queen suffered in silence (like sitting along in the Royal Box watching one of her husband's alleged lovers perform). Though she may not stay silent for long.

Women aren't the only ones cuckolded, however: there's Lord "Dickie" Mountbatten, who confides about his wife's dalliance with Nehru and even Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, whose wife carried on a love affair with another man for more than 30 years.

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