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‘The Crown’ Season 3 Timeline, Explained

November 17, 2019
8 min read

The Crown’ is a great show indeed. The episodes just breeze by, and you don’t even how you lost track of time while watching all ten episodes in one go. But that is not the only thing that causes time dilation in your brain. By the time you are done with the season, more than a decade has passed by in the show. And so much happens!

Every episode focuses on one particular event, but that’s not how things work in real life. One problem doesn’t wait for another to go away before jumping in. ‘The Crown’ makes us feel like that, but no. In real life, even the Queen isn’t exempt from this. This means that the timeline goes up and down a lot, and you might lose track of the order in which the events happened. Worry not, we’ve got you. Here is the entire timeline of the third season.

1964-67

Olding

The third season of ‘The Crown’ begins with the arrival of the new Prime Minister for England. The year is 1964, which proves to be crucial in a number of ways. First of all, Winston Churchill dies. With that out of the way, we focus on other immediate things, like the lurking threat of a Soviet spy. The new PM, Harold Wilson, comes under the scrutiny after the Queen catches the whiff of the rumours about him. But, in the end, it turns out that the mole is in her own house. Anthony Blunt turns out to be the traitor.

Margaretology

After finishing up with the matters of Blunt, the show quickly jumps to 1965, the year Princess Margaret visited the White House. By this time, Lyndon Johnson had taken over as President and the Vietnam War was in full swing. The Queen’s kingdom finds itself in a difficult financial predicament, but luckily, the dazzling Princess saves the day.

Aberfan

Another episode, another year. Now, we have entered the year 1966 and this episode focuses on the tragedy of Aberfan. And this is where ‘The Crown’ slows down a great deal. While the rest of the episodes take place over the course of at least a few weeks, this one counts to eight days. This, of course, has everything to do with the storyline of the event, which is one of the most important moments in the Queen’s reign.

Bubbikins

Now, this episode is where the timeline, as well as the events, get a little bit tricky. ‘The Crown’ is based on the life of the monarch and her family, but it is still a drama series. This means that some things have to be twisted in order to serve the flow of the story.

It is true that a documentary depicting the day-to-day life of the royal household was made. It is true that it was meant to reignite the interest and passion of the subjects. It is also true that Prince Phillip’s mother was Princess Alice, and that they shared a close relationship in her later years. But the events get a little skewed here.

The documentary was shot over the course of many months, though it might not have seemed like it. This episode begins in 1967, and if the continuity stays, the next episode falls somewhere in 1968. Since we are not given a proper timestamp, one might be led into believing that all the events in this episode took place in one year. That wouldn’t be true.

The documentary was actually released in 1969. And even though it did receive negative reviews, there wasn’t really a John Armstrong who got to interview Princess Alice. The article itself is a figment of the writers’ imagination, though a good one. At the end of the episode, the Queen declares that documentary shall never air again, not on BBC, not anywhere else, when it is said that the network will air it again in “three weeks’ time”. This gives the impression that not much time has passed since the airing of the documentary. It should just be a couple of days, right? But again, the time has been bent on purpose. In real life, the last time the documentary aired anywhere was in 1972. So yeah, there is a lot of improvisation here. It’s better if you believe that all of this happened in one go.

1968-72

Coup

The dusk years of the 60s bring interesting times. And it begins with a coup. It is the year 1968, we are still consistent with a year jump per episode. Mountbatten has been asked to resign from his position because the government wants to cut down costs for the armed forces and he won’t allow it. The failure of the government to do something about the faltering state of the nation and the impact and influence of Mountbatten leads Cecil King to believe that it is time for a change in administration, even if unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the Queen is on her tour to France and then America. Because the events take place within the span of her vacation, we can assume that the planning for the coup happens within a month. And as soon as the Queen comes to know about it, she quashes all of Mountbatten’s aspirations.

Tywysog Cymru

This is the year 1969. A lot of things happen in this year, so you have to keep in mind that the next couple of episode sort of flow into each other. On July 1, 1969, the Investiture ceremony for the Prince of Wales took place. But before that, he was sent to Wales in order to familiarise with the place and learn Welsh, to deliver the speech in the language. This episode takes place over the course of a couple of months, which is the length of one term in Prince Charles’ education.

Moondust

Once the ceremony is done, we move quickly to the next episode. Now, it might not seem like it, but the Moon Landing and the Investiture happened quite near each other. The reason July 1 and July 20 of 1969 seem so far is that we follow it from the perspective of the Duke of Edinburgh. His feeling of not belonging and losing faith doesn’t take place in ten days, or even a month. It is something that has been around for at least a year. If you were paying attention to him in previous episodes, you’d know.

So, scratch the ceremony and go back a couple of months, at least. This is when he stops coming to the Church, and then the priest is replaced, and then the therapy group is formed, then Moon Landing. The trio came to the Buckingham Palace in October, and the Duke’s mother died in December. This means that the events of ‘Moondust’ take place over the course of around a full year, even if it is not explicitly mentioned.

The Dangling Man

With the exhausting 1969 out of the way, we are in the 70s now. And it is time to buckle up because years will pass by and you won’t even notice! First of all, Edward Heath becomes PM, which happened in 1970. Meanwhile, the affair between Prince Charles and Camilla Shand soars. They had met in mid-71, but events move back and forth in the episode, so it might a bit difficult to keep track of. The episode ends with the death of the Duke of Windsor, which had happened in 1972.

1973-77

Imbroglio

Camilla and Charles are still together, but the family knows and they break them apart. The episode ends with the marriage of Camilla to Andrew, which took place in 1973, so here we are. Another thing to keep a note of is that Princess Anne is married, too, in the same year, though it is not shown in ‘The Crown’. Just make a mental note, for future purposes. And, again, the timeline has been tampered with.

The Three-Day Week, which PM Heath imposes in the face of the coal crises, took place in the early months of 1974. In the show, it is during one of the blackouts that the family interrogates Princess Anne and arrangements are made for Camilla and Andrew’s marriage. Soon after, Heath goes out of the office and Harold Wilson gets back his position. So, give or take, you are well in 1974 now.

Cri de Coeur

If time wasn’t flying yet, it will in this episode. The ninth episode left us in the middle of 1974, but that’s not quite where this episode begins. Princess Margaret had been angered by the affair of her husband, and on the advice of a friend, finally decides to indulge in the love life of her own.

She met Roddy Llewelyn in 1973. And here’s the main thing. The affair continued for about eight years. Yes, all that had been summed up in half-an-hour or so was actually the time span of eight years. The Caribbean holiday was in the summer of 1976. When she returned home and had a great fall-out with Tony, she knew it was time to get separated. They got divorced in 1978, but that doesn’t fall under the timeline of the third season. The last scene mentions Jubilee Day, which means we are on the 25th coronation anniversary of the Queen. This happened in 1977, and that is where our timeline comes to rest.

Read More: Where Was The Crown Season 3 Filmed?

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