From: Andrew Eaton, "The Crown" Series Producer
To: Peter Morgan, Head Writer
Re: Season 3, Pre-Production Notes
I just finished reading your first set of drafts for the upcoming third season of "The Crown." Jolly good job, once again! But I have a few notes for you to think about as you polish up the scripts:
1. Good news. We found an actor to play Prince Charles who is willing to let the make-up department muck with his ears. What they can't do with latex these days! Unfortunately, none of the actors we're auditioning for the Harold Wilson role are willing to wear the dental pieces created for the character by the special-effects artists we stole from "Stranger Things." They're all afraid the prosthetic might cause permanent damage to their incisors. So unless we can get the big brass at Netflix to nudge up the post-production budget to pay for some intensive CGI editing, I'm afraid you'll have to scrap the scene where the Duke of Edinburgh mocks the PM's teeth.
2. We signed up an actress with huge tits and big pouty lips to play young Camilla. This babe is fit! But unfortunately, this means you'll also have to cut the bit of dialogue where Prince Philip refers to her as 'equine.' Sorry to throw in all these wobblies, Pete. I really did like how you drew a parallel between the future Duchess of Cornwall and Porchey, the Queen's stable manager. Quite a clever gibe that was! But hey, this is television. We need our temptress to look the part.
3. Our new ER II, Olivia Colman, bears a startling resemblance to the real Queen in profile. So as a personal favor to me, when you're tightening up the screenplays, you could please try to squeeze in as many reaction shots for Colly as possible, so we can shoot her from the side? Ta!
4. Loved how you introduced LBJ urinating! Really humanizes the Office of the Presidency, as opposed to the ineffable mystique of "The Crown." Spot on bit of symbolism, that was.
5. Helena Bonham Carter has contracted to play Princess Margaret for Seasons 3 and 4. But Eddie Izzard's agent keeps ringing us up to pitch Eddie for the role in Seasons 5 and 6. Thoughts?
6. Did Dickie Mountbatten really attempt a coup d'état while Her Majesty was horse-shopping in Kentucky? Golly! Who knew the old sod had it in him?
7. I love the way you present the backstory for that nutters Greek nun (Prince Phillip's mum). And the Margaret/Tony story arcs are hot-hot-hot! But the midlife crisis episode you've written for Phillip is a bit of a damp squib. Might you consider adding a side plot to that episode to liven things up? Here's a suggestion:
This upcoming season of "The Crown" covers the years 1963 through the mid-seventies. Is there a reason you chose to ignore the whole Beatlemania phenomenon? I mean, seriously, Pete – the Beatles are what most people on the planet associate with London's "Swinging Sixties," aren't they? You might be able to capture the "groovy" spirit of those times with some nods to Mary Quant, Twiggy and Carnaby Street, though I really do think you ought to consider writing in the Fabs somehow.
Aside from that, though, let me just say once again, brilliant job, Pete. Totally brilliant! You are the king of the royals!
From: Peter Morgan, Series Creator, Executive Producer and Sole Writer
To: Andrew Eaton, Series Producer, Seasons One and Two (and possibly Three?)
Re: "The Crown" Season 3, Your Suggestions
It pains me to learn you did not like my take on the Duke of Edinburgh's spiritual watershed moment. Personally, I'm rather proud of how I tied his crisis of faith to the moon landing. Took a bit of work on my part, I'll have you know.
Just for the record, I did write one scene that addressed the Beatles' impact on the royal family, though I couldn't quite make up my mind how to fit it in with the rest of the season's story arc. My "Beatlesque" scene takes place in 1969 – the same year as three other proposed episodes:
Episode 6 – Prince Charles travels to Aberystwyth University in Wales to study the Welsh language, so he can properly pronounce the word "Aberystwyth" at his investiture ceremony.
Episode 7 – The aforementioned episode you disparaged, in which a terrestrial tête-à-tête with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin inspires Prince Philip to re-examine his faith, and
Episode 4 – The "Bubbikins" episode you also mentioned in your notes, which focuses on the 1967 arrival of Philip's mum, Princess Alice of Greece, at Buckingham Palace, but which also places her appearance in the context of the royal family's television documentary, which commenced filming in 1968 and was broadcast in 1969.
Please review the following scene and tell me how you, in your infinite wisdom, might suggest I incorporate it into the third Season.
SETTING: The sitting room of Buckingham Palace; November 25, 1969
The Royal Family is gathered around the television set, watching a program on the BBC.
THE QUEEN MUM:
Oh, I do so like these nature documentaries! They're quite fascinating! Just look at that pokey little penguin, waddling across the ice flow! Philip, you saw penguins once, didn't you? In Antarctica? I'm quite sure I saw a film of you frolicking with a flock of penguins when you traveled to Australia to open the Olympic Games. You had a beard.
(Sighing theatrically) Indeed, Mu-maw, I did see penguins when I sailed to Antarctica on the Royal Yacht in 1956. Though I most certainly did not frolic with them.
Oh yes, you did, Philip. Don't try to deny it. We all saw that film. Lillibet made us watch it together.
Yes, I liked the film you made on your travels very much, dear. It was much better than this dreary documentary. Oh dear, that poor penguin was just eaten by a leopard seal.
Ghastly business, the food chain. (She signals to the liveried BUTLER and holds up her glass). More gin, Nigel.
Of course, Your Highness. (He walks to her side with a crystal carafe and refills her drink).
Change the bloody channel while you're at it! I don't want Andrew and Edward watching this gruesome program! They'll be traumatized for life!
But Daddy, I think it's exciting! I can't wait to grow up so I can join the navy and sail to Antarctica, and see the seals eat the penguins with my very own eyes!
(Changes the television channel to an episode of "Coronation Street.") Will this do, sir?
Gah! That's even worse! Bloody soap opera!
No, Daddy, please let's keep it on this channel. I want to see what happens to Lucille.
(Gets up from his chair and runs to his blue Hoppity Hop Ball in the far corner of the room, by the grand piano). C'mon, Andy, I'll race you!
(Gets up from his chair and runs to fetch his red Hoppity Hop Ball) I'll beat you!
Go bounce in the hallway, you two. The grown-ups are trying to watch the telly in here.
The two young Princes jump onto their giant riding balls and hop towards the door. The BUTLER runs ahead and opens the door to let them out of the room. As soon as the boys hop away, the QUEEN's private secretary, SIR MICHAEL ADEANE, enters the room through the open door. He approaches QUEEN ELIZABETH, bows, and hands her a package.
I'm so sorry to disturb you, Your Majesty. But this package arrived not long ago, and I thought you might like to know about it straight away, before you read about its contents in tomorrow's newspapers.
Oh, dear, what is it now? (She takes the package from SIR MICHAEL)
It's from John Lennon, ma'am. The leader of the Beatles.
PRINCE CHARLES' and PRINCESS ANNE's eyes light up. They slip off their davenport and approach their mother cautiously.
How exciting, Mummy! One of the Beatles has sent you a present! Might we see it too?
It's not a present, Sir. Mr. Lennon is returning his M.B.E. to the Palace. He enclosed a note.
SIR MICHAEL hands a letter to QUEEN ELIZABETH. She rests the package in her lap and starts reading the letter aloud:
This letter states: "Your Majesty - I am returning this M.B.E. in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With love, John Lennon of Bag." (She rests the letter in her lap and purses her lips). Whatever does that mean? John Lennon of Bag?
Perhaps he's making a reference to "The Lord of the Rings." You know, Mummy? That big set of books by J.R.R. Tolkien? (He clears his throat nervously) The protagonists Bilbo and Frodo Baggins were from a place called Bag End.
(Rolling her eyes) Don't be such a toff, Chuck. John Lennon is referring to the production company he started with his new wife, Yoko Ono. They sometimes appear together at concerts, sitting inside giant cloth bags on the stage.
That's the daftest thing I've ever heard of. The man is completely mental. He's lost the plot, I'd say.
(After sipping her drink) Perhaps he and his wife are Bohemians like you, Tony. You know what I mean? Artists?
(Puts down the newspaper he has been reading throughout the discussion so that he can address his mother-in-law directly) Yes, John Lennon and his wife are both artists, Mu-maw. Though I wouldn't call them Bohemians. They're far too wealthy. Philip was right. They're just mad.
(Smacking her husband's arm with her left hand and lowering the cigarette holder she is dangling in her right hand.) Don't be so condescending, Tony. You liked John Lennon just fine the last time we spent the evening with him.
(Glares at SIR MICHAEL, then lifts his newspaper back up to cover his face.) Do sit down, Mike, if you're not going to leave us. Don't just stand there staring, gape-mouthed like a dying carp. It's irritating. We're trying to watch the telly.
SIR MICHAEL sits down in an uncomfortable, straight-backed chair in the far end of the room.
(Turning towards his aunt and uncle). I'd almost forgotten, Aunt Margo. You and Uncle Tony went to the premiere of the Beatles film, "A Hard Day's Night" in 1964. I was so jealous of you!
I wasn't talking about the premiere, dear boy. I was talking about the last time Tony and I ran into John Lennon at "The Scotch of St. James." (She looks at QUEEN ELIZABETH, who is staring at PRINCESS MARGARET with a quizzical expression). It's a very trendy nightclub, Lillibet. You and Philip should drop by there sometime. It's where all the beautiful people go to hang out.
Hang out? Like pieces of wet laundry?
(rolling her eyes once more) Oh Daddy, you are such a square!
(Narrowing her gaze at her two eldest children) You two need to sit back down as well.
PRINCE CHARLES and PRINCESS ANNE return to their davenport.
(Grabs her husband's newspaper and pulls it away from his face). Don't tell me you've already forgotten the last time we spoke with John Lennon, Tony. It wasn't that long ago. He was at "The Scotch" with some film director who was making a documentary about the Beatles recording an album. What was his name again? Michael something-or-other…
(Sounding irritated) Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Talented chap. He's made quite a few films about pop stars.
I know that name. Is this film director perchance related to Sir Edward Lindsay-Hogg, the Fourth Baronet?
(Smiling in relief) I suppose he must be. I can't imagine there are too many Lindsay-Hoggs in this world.
Well, there's at least one more person by that name whom I can think of. Michael's wife, Lucy Lindsay-Hogg. She was there at the nightclub too. You remember, darling, don't you? A pretty little brunette? You couldn't keep your eyes off her.
(Lifting the paper back up to shield his face) If you say so, Margo.
(Obliviously) I went to a nightclub once with Bertie. We drank cocktails. It was all rather grand, if I remember correctly. Though there were far too many common people present for my taste. So unfortunate. (She sighs and finishes her drink) I prefer parties at friends' homes where I know everyone and can count on all the guests to follow royal protocols.
The QUEEN MUM holds up her glass and signals to the BUTLER. He carries the carafe to her side and refills her glass.
I'll take one too.
Of course, Your Highness. (He fetches a glass from the drinks table, fills it and presents it to Margaret, then returns to his discrete position at the periphery of the assembly.)
(Re-examining the note in her hands) Well, I can understand why this Mr. Lennon wants to protest Britain's involvement in Vietnam and "the Nigeria-Biafra thing." I don't much care for the Prime Minister's position on those matters either. Though I'm rather confused about his reference to "Cold Turkey slipping down the charts." Whatever could that mean?
"Cold Turkey" is the name of John Lennon's newest record, Mummy. It peaked at number 14 on the record charts, then fell down a few notches.
Well, that's damned rude of him! How dare that unscrupulous Scouser slip in such a self-aggrandizing remark in a note to his sovereign monarch, whilst returning the great honor that she bestowed upon him? Adding that quip to his diatribe completely dilutes any bite in his political argument.
Actually, Daddy, the M.B.E. isn't a particularly great honor. It's only the third highest Order of the British Empire award, behind the C.B.E. and O.B.E.
(Casting PRINCE CHARLES a venomous look) I damn well bloody know the ranking of the orders! Don't you be lecturing me, you simpering twit!
(Cringing and whispering) I'm sorry, Daddy.
(Irritated) Oh poppycock. Be quiet, both of you. It doesn't matter how important the medal is. What matters is that the recipient gave it back, however confusing his reasons might be. (She turns towards PRINCE PHILIP and softens her gaze.) It doesn't bother me that Mr. Lennon made a joke about his record slipping down the charts. I'm sure he just said that to blunt the sting of his blow, not to be flippant.
John Lennon made a joke the night I spent with him too. (She sips her gin as the entire family turns their eyes towards her, aghast. She meets their gazes and blushes.) Don't look at me like that! I met him at the Royal Command Performance in November of 1963. His band had been invited to play, so it was all quite correct. He introduced a song and asked the crowd in the cheaper seats to clap along, then told the rest of us to rattle our jewelry. He was quite droll. (She takes a large sip of her gin and smiles). I do so like a Northern man. They're generally much more fun than the flash bastards from the South.
PRINCESS MARGARET laughs so hard that her gin goes down the wrong way and starts coming out of her nose. The BUTLER runs to her side and offers her a starched, white linen napkin. She wipes her face. The BUTLER walks away without making eye contact with PRINCESS MARGARET.
(Breaking the awkward pause in the conversation) Actually, I think Granny has a good point. John Lennon is generally regarded as the funniest of the four Beatles, as well as the smartest. He liked listening to "The Goon Show" when he was younger, just like I did.
(Haughtily) Well, he can't be that smart if he threw over his nice, pretty wife for that Japanese weirdo he's married to now. Did you know that Yoko Ono made an 80-minute-long film showing nothing but people's bums?
A chorus of giggles spills into the room. The royal family looks towards the source of the disturbance and sees PRINCE ANDREW and PRINCE EDWARD standing in the open doorframe, laughing themselves silly.
If you'll excuse me, ma'am, I'll go fetch Nanny.
Yes, thank you, Nigel. Please do.
QUEEN ELIZABETH casts a stern look at her young sons, but then her eyes crinkle up at the corners, revealing the first hints of a smile. The boys run to her for goodnight hugs. The NANNY enters the room with the BUTLER and collects PRINCE ANDREW and PRINCE EDWARD, then leaves. PRINCE CHARLES watches the loving exchange between his mother and younger brothers with a forlorn expression.
(Puts down her drink on the polished coffee table, not bothering to look for a coaster, and walks over to the grand piano in the far corner of the room.) The Beatles wrote a song about you, Lillibet. Did you know that? It's the last track on their latest album.
PRINCESS MARGARET sits down at the instrument, lifts the cover off the keys, and starts to accompany herself as she sings:
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, but she doesn't have a lot to say.
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, but she changes from day to day.
I want to tell her that I love her a lot, but I've got to get a belly full of wine.
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, some day I'm gonna make her mine, oh yeah.
Someday I'm gonna make her mine.
(Lowers his newspaper to his lap and applauds with a slow, steady clap). Lovely, my angel. Just lovely.
PRINCESS MARGARET stands up and curtseys to her family, then returns to join them. She picks up her gin and swallows back the drink before sitting down on the brocaded settee beside her husband.
Nice try, Auntie Margo, but that's a Paul McCartney composition you just performed. Though John Lennon did once sing a song on one of his earlier records that might have been about Mummy.
PRINCESS ANNE stands up, turns to her mother, and starts to dance while she sings:
You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzie, the way you rock and roll!
You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzie, when you do the stroll!
PRINCE CHARLES jumps to his sister's side and sings over her voice on the next line:
Come on, Miss Lizzie! Love me 'fore I grow too old!
The QUEEN'S eldest children look at each other and smile, then turn towards their mother and bow before sitting back down. QUEEN ELIZABETH throws them a withering glare.
(With a gleam in his eye) I dare say, Lillibet. I think you are displaying the exact same facial expression that your Great-Great-Grandmother Victoria employed when she coined the phrase, "We are not amused."
(Turning towards her brother-in-law and sighing) You're correct, dear Tony. I am not amused by this whole incident of a pop star returning his M.B.E. medal. My feelings are quite the opposite.
(Arrogantly) You're angry, Cabbage. As well you should be.
(Turns towards PRINCE PHILIP with a wistful expression) No, dear, I'm not angry. I'm rather sad.
Sad that John Lennon didn't want the medal you gave him anymore?
No, Charles. I'm sad that he had the opportunity to use the medal I gave him to express his political opinions. Actually, if I'm going to be completely honest, I should say I'm not so much sad as I am jealous. I am never allowed to express my opinions on any topic in public. Not about Britain's support of the American war in Vietnam. Not about this whole "Nigeria-Biafra thing." Not even about which pop songs deserve to sit on top of the record charts. All I ever get to do in public is make cheerful chit-chat, or present carefully-scripted speeches and prayers.
QUEEN ELIZABETH picks up the box containing John Lennon's M.B.E. and signals to SIR MICHAEL. He jumps out of his chair and walks to her side. She hands him the box and the letter.
Michael, please leave these on the desk in my office. Tomorrow I shall pass them along to the Central Chancery of the Order of Knighthood at St. James Palace, where they can be kept in storage until such time that Mr. Lennon decides he wants them back. And then I shall return them to him. Only without a pointed, politicized letter. I shall simply give them back with a smile, as I always do.
QUEEN ELIZABETH stands up from her chair and nods to her family.
I'm retiring to my room now. Margo, Anne, Charles, thank you for your songs.
Exit the QUEEN.
Inspired by the Netflix television series, "The Crown" (First episode aired in 2016)