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John Moore/Getty Images

15 Unexpected Facts About Military Research From Mary Roach’s Grunt

John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

Science writer Mary Roach has explored some unexpected corners of the scientific world, from Elvis’s constipation issues to a sheep rancher determined to test the weight of the soul. In her latest book, Grunt, she dives into the world of military science. Roach learns just how much research goes into every aspect of preparing for war, from figuring out how to deal with diarrhea in the field to designing a camouflage pattern that doesn’t get men killed to finding ways for service members on submarines to get some shut-eye. Here are just a few of the quirky, unexpected things we learned about the science of war and the U.S. military from the book.


By nature of his occupation, a sniper spends a lot of time laying on the ground. If he’s wearing a jacket that closes in the front with a zipper, sand, dirt, and other rubble will end up grinding its way into the zipper's teeth, and it will get stuck. It will also probably stab him uncomfortably in the stomach. Nor is Velcro an option. “I have heard stories of Special Operations guys whose Velcro put them in danger by revealing their position,” Roach writes. As a result of these complicated considerations, the Army has a Hook and Loop Task Group to figure out how to fasten clothing for soldiers in a safe, comfortable way. The latest sniper suits close on the side, rather than in the front, with a flap to protect the buttons, which are themselves tested for durability in the face of weapons like steel blocks, hot irons, and boiling water.


While Army uniforms are rigorously tested and thoroughly regulated—button regulations alone require 22 pages of specifications—there are aspects of military dress that are less about function and more about the fashion decisions of certain high-ranking officials. In 2005, for instance, a high-ranking general picked an untested camouflage pattern to be used to hide troops in all terrains, whether it be deserts, cities, or the woods, eschewing all of the 13 patterns developed and tested by a committee created just for this purpose. It didn’t work out so well. “The new camouflage performed so poorly in Afghanistan that in 2009, the Army spent $3.4 million developing a new and safer pattern for troops deployed there,” Roach explains.

That’s not the only military fashion decision that seems arbitrary. The blue camouflage worn by Navy personnel doesn’t actually serve a useful function, according to one commander, since it just makes it harder to see people who fall overboard. And those fancy black berets Army soldiers wear? They may be less useful than a cap with a brim, but man, they look cool. In 2011, responding to soldiers’ complaints, the Army began providing its soldiers with patrol caps again.


War is loud, whether you’re on the battlefield or just training. A Black Hawk helicopter emits a din of 106 decibels, and the sound of firing an ATT4 anti-tank weapon clocks in at 187 decibels. For reference, you can only be exposed to 115 decibels for 30 seconds before incurring hearing damage. But just how to protect soldiers’ ear drums is complicated. Earplugs cut sound by about 30 decibels, but they dampen noise indiscriminately, meaning that just as explosions get quieter, so do the your commander’s orders and the sound of enemy fire. Furthermore, it’s almost impossible to shove an earplug far enough into the ear when you’re wearing a combat helmet. As a result, the Veterans Administration spends $1 billion a year treating hearing loss and tinnitus.


Right now, there’s no good way to study how improvised explosive devices affect the human body, or how different military equipment could protect against them. The crash dummies currently available are made for testing the physics of car crashes on the human body. Car crashes come from the front, back, or side, but explosive devices impact the body from below, exploding beneath someone’s feet or under their vehicle. So the Army is building its own, IED-specific dummy called the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin, or WIAMan. The device won’t be ready until 2021, and in the meantime, the Army has to use cadavers if it wants to understand the ways that IEDs affect the human body realistically.


The widespread use of IEDs in combat zones has invigorated military research in another unexpected direction. An Iraq vet who works as a surgeon at D.C.’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center told Roach that wounded men usually have the same two questions after an explosion. “The first thing they ask is, ‘Where’s my buddy? Is he O.K.? … The second thing they say is, ‘Is my penis there?’”

Thanks to advanced technology and medical science, soldiers are surviving traumas that would have left them dead on the battlefield in past wars. And some of the injuries these men have to live with are very intimate.

While it may sound superficial to be concerned with your manhood over more deadly losses, losing your genitals can be more traumatic than losing a limb in some ways. You can get a prosthetic leg. You can get a wheelchair. But making up for the loss of that most personal of organs, the penis, is a bit more complicated. Luckily, the science is making big strides. The first U.S. penis transplant was performed in May 2016, and the patient, a cancer survivor, was released from the hospital less than a month later.


Because of what one study called the “unprecedented” rate of genital injuries experienced by soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has been trying to develop underwear that could protect its soldiers’ crotches from harm. In 2010, a company called BCB debuted “Blast Boxers,” a product marketed as “bomb-proof underwear.” Unfortunately, no underwear is really bomb-proof. Even the Blast Boxers’s Kevlar can’t stop shards of metal blasting out of an IED. But it can stop dirt that blasts out of the ground when the bomb goes off, helping stave off infections in the resulting wounds. However, the Army has been researching the protective qualities of silk, which despite its reputation for delicacy, might be useful in the event of a bomb from below—it’s strong enough that bits of fiber won’t get embedded in the wound. However, the effort has run into some sourcing and development issues, and soldiers still don’t have their protective undies.


When in combat, soldiers typically carry around 95 pounds of body armor, batteries, weapons, and ammunition. As a result, soldiers sweat a ton, and researchers have quantified exactly how much. In the 1940s, military experiments found that carrying a 68-pound pack increased soldiers’ sweating by more than 20 fluid ounces per hour. Even when not in immediate combat, soldiers have a lot of weight on their soldiers. On a two-day loaded march, a soldier in Afghanistan would be expected to carry around 30 pounds. The weight modern soldiers have to bear on a regular basis can lead to abdominal strain and pelvic organ prolapse, according to a 2010 report of new medical challenges facing military hospitals.


Poop is no joke on active duty. If you think traveler’s diarrhea is bad when you’re a tourist, imagine being in a combat zone. In one military survey of service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2004, 32 percent of respondents had been hit with a violent case of diarrhea in a situation where they couldn’t get to a toilet. More than three-quarters of soldiers in Iraq and 54 percent in Afghanistan came down with diarrhea at some point, and 40 percent of those cases were so severe they required medical attention. As one Special Operator told Roach, “I have many stories where I’ve soiled my pants on missions. In Iraq, I’ve soiled my pants. In Afghanistan, I’ve soiled my pants.”

Obviously, military researchers are hard at work figuring out how to toughen up soldiers' stomachs for when they inevitably eat questionably sanitary meals in remote locations. In the meantime, soldiers improvise. For those who expect to be stuck in one spot for a long time—like in a hole surveilling a specific intersection—one air strike controller told Roach that a double layer of gallon Ziploc bags and kitty litter have to do the trick if a digestive emergency arises.


On some submarines, space is at such a premium that crew members have to sleep with the missiles. That’s the case on the USS Tennessee, a sub that needed to add some bed space when technology upgrades required an increase in people on board. So people sleep in the missile compartment, wedged between Trident II nuclear missiles. Apparently, it’s a pretty peaceful place to get some shut-eye, as far as submarine sleeping quarters go. And that's particularly important, because ...


For better or worse, the crew of subs like the USS Tennessee don’t get to spend much time napping between the missiles. On average, they get about four hours sleep a day. When they are scheduled to have some down time, their sleep is more often than not disrupted by fire drills, training, maintenance, and more. Junior crew members sleep even less than most, because they have to study for qualification, an extensive test of all the major systems across a submarine that every submariner has to pass. And as we all know, a lack of sleep can impair your judgment just as much as a few drinks would, making the military very, very interested in sleep research.


In 1987, Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf III calculated just how much paperwork is involved with working on a submarine. According to his figures, a smaller warship has to carry 20 tons of technical manuals, forms, crew logs, and shelves. He campaigned for paperless ships, but subs still carry more pounds of paperwork than crew, according to Roach.


When submarines surface, it’s hazardous to anything else around, despite the use of technology like sonar. In 2001, a U.S. submarine came up right under a 191-foot-long, 499-ton Japanese trawler, ripping the ship in half and sinking it in just minutes. Subs navigate by sonar, but there are limits to what sonar can detect, which is why periscopes exist. If a ship’s engines are off or if it’s pointed right at the sub’s sonar array, it might go undetected. Furthermore, it doesn’t reflect distance quickly enough to let crew members know whether they should immediately dive or if the ship they’re trying to avoid is miles away. These limits to visibility and object detection might explain how in 2005, a $1 billion U.S. sub crashed into an underwater mountain at 40 miles per hour.


Soldiers tend to be weight-lifting, muscular fitness buffs, with an emphasis on the “buff.” Over the course of the 6000 autopsies on service members since 2004, doctors found that in about half of cases where men were treated in the field for a collapsed lung—involving a needle inserted into the chest to relieve pressure—the soldier’s pecs were so immense that the needle wasn’t long enough to reach past the layer of muscle into the lung. In response, the military began issuing longer needles for buff patients.


Currently, everyone in the military who dies while on duty gets an autopsy. The rule applies to service men and women, but it also applies to military dogs. While this wasn’t the case before the War on Terror, in 2004, the military decided to examine every service member in order to find new treatments and technologies for wartime injuries. These autopsies allow military doctors to see if the medical devices and techniques they’ve been using worked the way they were supposed to, and to determine if anything could have been done to save the fallen soldier.


“They think a lot of harebrained things are good ideas,” sleep researcher Greg Belenky, a retired colonel, told Roach of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a military research arm perhaps best known among civilians for its annual robotics competition, where futuristic, top-of-the-line robots go head-to-head in tough tasks like walking on soft dirt without falling over. Besides all-terrain robots, DARPA hopes to create technology that would allow soldiers to stay awake for up to seven days without showing any adverse side effects, allowing those sleep-deprived submariners, for one, to work more efficiently to avoid deadly mistakes.

Roach tracked down a NATO symposium list of far-off, hypothetical technologies the military would love to develop to help its soldiers be at their best, including prosthetic limbs that would provide superhuman strength and eye implants that would allow soldiers to see in infrared and ultraviolet frequencies. “The wish list also included ‘surgically provided gills,’” Roach notes.

Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
15 Actors Who Could've Played Han Solo
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Before Harrison Ford (watch his audition tape here) and Alden Ehrenreich were cast as Han Solo in the Star Wars film franchise, a number of young and famous Hollywood actors had a shot at playing everyone’s favorite “stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerfherder.” Here are 15 of them.


After the massive success of the first two The Godfather films, Serpico, and Dog Day Afternoon, Al Pacino was the toast of Hollywood. He was given the script to Star Wars and was offered the Solo job, but turned it down to star in Sydney Pollack’s Bobby Deerfield instead.

“It was at that time in my career when I was offered everything,” Pacino told MTV in 2014. “I was in The Godfather. They didn’t care if I was right or wrong for the role, if I could act or not act. ‘He’s in The Godfather. Offer him everything!’ So they offered me this movie. And I remember not understanding it when I read it. Another missed opportunity!”


 Actor Miles Teller attends the 2018 DIRECTV NOW Super Saturday Night Concert at NOMADIC LIVE! at The Armory on February 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Christopher Polk, Getty Images for DirecTV

Fresh off the success of Divergent and Whiplash in 2014, Miles Teller’s name appeared on the shortlist of young actors being considered to play the title role in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Believe it or not, he had never watched a single movie set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” before his audition with Lucasfilm.

“I had never even seen any of the original Star Wars movies until maybe a month or a couple weeks before my first audition because I was like, ‘I should check this out,'" Teller told MTV’s Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “I just love Harrison Ford, I think that’s a great character. I love his brand, I mean so many guys would’ve played that part so wrong and he has humor at the right times.”


Before he wrote and starred in Rocky, Sylvester Stallone met with George Lucas and auditioned for the part of Han Solo. He knew he wasn’t going to get the job based on the director’s ambivalent demeanor during his reading.

When asked about the audition in 2010, Stallone told Ain’t It Cool News in 2010, “It didn’t meet with much approval since when I stood in front of George Lucas he didn’t look at me once, obviously being very shy. Then I said ‘Well obviously I’m not the right type.’ but it all worked out for the best since I don’t look good in spandex holding a Ray gun.”


 Ansel Elgort attends New York City Ballet 2018 Spring Gala at Lincoln Center on May 3, 2018 in New York City
Steven Ferdman, Getty Images

The Fault in Our Stars and Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort was one of the names on Lucasfilm’s shortlist of young actors for Solo. While he has the good looks to play the rugged space pirate, Elgort was relieved that Alden Ehrenreich was selected instead. 

“Yeah, I was pretty worried, honestly,” Elgort told The Huffington Post. “I was pretty worried that if I got it, I’d have to change my DJ name. So I’m relieved.” (Elgort is also a musician and singer with the DJ name of “Ansølo.” He publishes electronic dance music and remixes on Soundcloud under the pseudonym.)


Before his breakout appearances in Annie Hall and The Deer Hunter, a struggling young actor named Christopher Walken auditioned for Han Solo in Star Wars. Although the role went to Ford in the end, Walken was reportedly Lucas’s second choice for the space smuggler.


After starring in hit comedies like Neighbors, Dave Franco auditioned for Lucasfilm. During pre-production in 2016, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller—who both also directed Franco in 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie—were set to direct Solo: A Star Wars Story. The pair left the project well into filming due to “creative differences.” Despite a strong audition, Franco ultimately didn’t get the role.

“I’m not good with impressions or anything like that,” Franco told MTV. “I think that’s the reason why it’s so hard to cast this role. Do they want someone to perfectly embody who Harrison Ford is, or do they want to go a completely different route? Do they want someone to look really similar to him? I don’t know, I think they’re struggling with that.”


During the mid-1970s, Kurt Russell auditioned for both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, but Lucas wasn’t sure he was right for either job. While the director was still making up his mind, Russell dropped out of the running altogether to be a series regular on a TV Western called The Quest instead.

“[I was] interviewing for the part of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo," Russell told USA Today. "On tape, it exists. I didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. Something about a Death Star and a Millennium Falcon. I was actually pretty [close], in the final running, but I needed to give an answer to ABC to do a western show. I asked George, ‘Do you think you’re gonna use me?’ He said, ‘I don’t know if I want to put you with him, or those two guys together.’ I got to go to work, so I did the western. Clearly, made the right choice.”

When later asked about his decision to work on The Quest, which lasted just one season, Russell told Vanity Fair: “I don’t have any regrets. As an actor you can’t dwell on those things or you’ll go crazy. Things happen for a reason and I’m happy how things turned out in my career. My life and career may have been different, maybe for better or for worse, if I did Star Wars, but you can’t focus on it. You move on.”


 Scott Eastwood attends the 6th Annual Hilarity For Charity at The Hollywood Palladium on March 24, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

In 2016, Lucasfilm auditioned more than 2500 actors roughly between the ages of 20 and 25 for Solo. The production company wanted an actor who was young enough to grow with the character through multiple movies. The list was whittled down to just eight names after screen tests, with actor Scott Eastwood—son of Clint—among those in the running. Although he was a favorite with Star Wars fans, Eastwood was 29 years old at the time and the oldest actor on the shortlist.


Before he was known as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Robert Englund auditioned for Han Solo. While he didn’t land the gig, Englund took the script home with him, because he thought his roommate would be perfect for the role of Luke Skywalker—and he was right! Englund’s roommate at the time was Mark Hamill, who played the iconic role for more than 40 years, most recently in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“At that time, Mark Hamill was always on my couch,” Englund told “So there he was, halfway through a six-pack, watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I went in and I said to him, ‘Look at these sides, I think you’re right for this, man. This character is like a space prince, and it’s George Lucas!' ... I was just saying, ‘Wow, what if you got to be in a George Lucas movie, Mark? You’re the kind of actor he loves!’ So he got on the phone to his agent and the rest is history.”


After gaining critical and commercial success in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Fury, Logan Lerman was reportedly on Lucasfilm’s shortlist of young actors to play Solo. While he didn’t end up landing the gig, Lerman said of the role to MTV, “I don’t think I’d be intimidated. It would just be fun.”


 Jack Reynor arriving at the 'Detroit' European Premiere at The Curzon Mayfair on August 16, 2017 in London, England
Tristan Fewings, Getty Images

While audiences might know him as the lead character in the Irish drama What Richard Did or as the love interest in Transformers: Age of Extinction, Irish actor Jack Reynor was on the shortlist for Solo, and was ultimately happy he didn’t get the gig.

“That Han Solo movie is going to be really tough,” Reynor told The Irish Times. “I think the guy who is doing it is a really good actor, but, for myself, I was afraid of it. I kept thinking: if you f**k this up you’ll ruin people’s childhoods. If it doesn’t turn out great, you won’t be forgiven. That’s a lot of responsibility. And even if it goes great, you’ll do it, people will know you only from that and that defines your career. That would be very difficult. For me, working on original material is very important.”


While still on Saturday Night Live, it was rumored that Bill Murray was up for Han Solo in A New Hope. In 2015, while at San Diego Comic-Con, Murray addressed the nearly 40-year old rumors: “I don’t know if I was up for it. I can’t tell you for sure. But I am working out in hopes of getting this new thing,” he joked. “I’m doing a lot of swimming and pilates."


 Taron Egerton attends the EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) nominees party at Kensington Palace on February 17, 2018 in London, England
Jeff Spicer, Getty Images

Welsh actor Taron Egerton, who starred in Kingsman: The Secret Service and its sequel, was reportedly one of the three names (alongside Reynor and Ehrenreich) on the final shortlist for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Like Reynor, Egerton admitted he was very apprehensive of the role.

“Roles of that level are always going to be life-changing,” Egerton told The Guardian in 2016. “I wouldn’t run into it blind. It would definitely be a shutting-a-door-behind-me moment. That is something that I’d be wary of.”


Coming off his breakout success in Cooley High in 1975, actor Glynn Turman auditioned for Lucas—but he didn’t even realize he had auditioned for the part of Han Solo until he read about it in Dale Pollock’s book, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, in 1983.

“In those days it said ‘black actor,’ ‘white actor,’ ‘Hispanic actor’ for every role, but it didn’t say either for the Han Solo part,” Glynn Turman told Empire Magazine in 2017. “It didn’t specify ‘black actor.’ I was rather pleased because I was just being called in as a talent. I remember George was very professional.” Turman must have impressed Lucas, as he was apparently considered for the role of Lando Calrissian as well.

“Later, I was approached for the role, in that same franchise, that [was given to] Billy Dee Williams,” Turman told Yahoo! Entertainment. “Handsome, swashbuckling, dashing Billy Dee. I hate him! Not true. Dear friend and a talented man. Lando Calrissian! That wouldn’t have fit me anyway. But it fits a Billy Dee Williams.”


 Actor Emory Cohen attends the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival after party for Vincent N Roxxy at Black Market on April 19, 2016 in New York City
Cindy Ord, Getty Images for 2016 Tribeca Film Festival

In 2016, New York City-born actor Emory Cohen, a.k.a. “the cute guy from Brooklyn in Brooklyn,” was among the contenders to play Han Solo. "I read for it once," he later told The Daily Beast, and joked that, “They don’t even want me!”

Robert Viglasky, Netflix
11 Things We Know About The Crown Season 3
Robert Viglasky, Netflix
Robert Viglasky, Netflix

Now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding is in the books, it's time to start thinking about the next big royal event: season three of The Crown. Since making its premiere on November 4, 2016, the Netflix series—which won the 2017 Golden Globe for Best Drama—has become an indisputable hit. The streaming series, created by two-time Oscar nominee Peter Morgan, follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the ups and downs of the royal family.

Now that you’ve surely binge-watched both of the first two seasons, we’re looking ahead to season three. Here’s everything we know about The Crown’s third season so far.


 Olivia Colman attends the 'Murder On The Orient Express' world premiere at Royal Albert Hall on November 2, 2017 in London, England
John Phillips, Getty Images

From the very beginning, creator Peter Morgan made it clear that each season of The Crown would cover roughly a decade of history, and that the cast would change for season three and again in season five (to more accurately represent the characters 20 and 40 years later). In October, it was announced that Olivia Colman would take over the role of Queen Elizabeth II.

When discussing her replacement with Jimmy Fallon, Claire Foy praised her successor, joking that "You'll forget all about me and the rest of the cast. You'll be like, ‘Who are they?' We're the warm-up act."

Though she might be best known to American audiences for her roles in Broadchurch and The Night Manager (the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe in 2017), Colman is no stranger to playing a member of the royal family. In 2012, she played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon—wife of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret—in Hyde Park on Hudson. Later this year, she’ll play Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, with Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.


While no official release date for season three has been given, the BBC reported that we wouldn't see Colman as Queen Elizabeth II until 2019—which means we've got some more waiting to do. The good news, however, is that Morgan confirmed they're shooting seasons three and four "back-to-back. I’m writing them all at the moment," he said in February. Meaning we may not have to wait as long for season four to arrive.


 Actor Tobias Menzies attends 'The Terror' premiere at the Philips Gran Via Theater on March 20, 2018 in Madrid, Spain
Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images

Between Outlander and The Terror, Tobias Menzies is keeping pretty busy these days. In late March it was announced that he’d be taking over Matt Smith’s role as Prince Philip for the next two seasons of The Crown—and Smith couldn't be happier.

Shortly after the announcement was made, Smith described his replacement as "the perfect casting," telling the Observer: "He’s a wonderful actor. I worked with him on The History Boys, and he’s a totally fantastic actor. I’m very excited to see what he does with Prince Philip." Of course, passing an iconic role on to another actor is something that former Doctor Who star Smith has some experience with. "It was hard to give up the Doctor—you want to play it for ever. But with this, you know you can’t," Smith told The Times last October.

For his part, Menzies said that, "I'm thrilled to be joining the new cast of The Crown and to be working with Olivia Colman again. I look forward to becoming her 'liege man of life and limb.'"


If you remember hearing rumblings that Paul Bettany would be playing the Duke of Edinburgh, no, you're not imagining things. For a while it seemed like the London-born actor was a shoo-in for the part, but it turned out that scheduling was not in Bettany's favor. When asked about the rumors that he was close to signing a deal to play Philip, Bettany said that, "We discussed it. We just couldn’t come to terms on dates really. [That] is all that happened."


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After months of speculation—and one big hint via Instagram (see above)—in early May, Netflix finally confirmed the previously "all but confirmed" rumor that Helena Bonham Carter would play Princess Margaret in The Crown's next season. "I’m not sure which I’m more terrified about—doing justice to the real Princess Margaret or following in the shoes of Vanessa Kirby’s Princess Margaret,” Bonham Carter said of the role. “The only thing I can guarantee is that I’ll be shorter [than Vanessa]."

Like Colman, Bonham Carter also has some experience playing a royal: She played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a.k.a. the Queen Mother, in the Oscar-winning The King's Speech.


At the same time Netflix confirmed Bonham Carter's casting, the network announced that BAFTA-winning actor Jason Watkins had been cast as Harold Wilson, who was prime minister between 1964 and 1970 and again between 1974 and 1976. "I am delighted to become part of this exceptional show,” Watkins said. “And so thrilled to be working once again with Peter Morgan. Harold Wilson is a significant and fascinating character in our history. So looking forward to bringing him to life, through a decade that transformed us culturally and politically."


As The Crown moves forward, time will, too. Though fans worried that, based on the current time jumps between seasons, it would take another few years to see Princess Diana be introduced, Morgan told People Magazine that Princess Diana would make her first appearance toward the end of season three and that she will be heavily featured in the two seasons that follow. However, casting director Nina Gold later dispelled that notion.

"Diana’s not in this season," Gold told Vanity Fair. "When we do get to her, that is going to be pretty interesting." Charles and Diana did not meet until 1977, when the Prince began dating Diana's older sister, Sarah. According to Variety, season three will only cover the years 1964 to 1976.


Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing, 1980
Express Newspapers/Archive Photos/Getty Images

As it’s difficult to fully cover the relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana without including Camilla Parker Bowles as part of the story, the current Duchess of Cornwall will make her first appearance in season three.

“Peter [Morgan]’s already talking about the most wonderful things,” The Crown producer Suzanne Mackie revealed during the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival in April 2017. “You start meeting Camilla Parker Bowles in season three,” she said, noting that they were then in the process of mapping out seasons three and four.


Though it's hard to imagine a more lavish set design, Left Bank—the series's production company—requested more studio space for its sets at Elstree Studios in late 2017, and received approval to do just that in April. According to Variety, Left Bank specifically "sought planning permission for a new Buckingham Palace main gates and exterior, including the iconic balcony on which the royals stand at key moments. The Downing Street plans show a new Number 10 and the road leading up to the building itself. The sketches for the new work, seen by Variety, show an aerial view of Downing Street with a Rolls Royce pulling up outside Number 10."


Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret in 'The Crown'
Alex Bailey/Netflix

Princess Margaret’s roller-coaster relationship with Antony Armstrong-Jones played a major part of The Crown’s second season, and the dissolution of their marriage will play out in season three.

“We’re now writing season three," Robert Lacey, the series’s history consultant and the author of The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1, told Town & Country in December. “And in season three, without giving anything away—it’s on the record, it’s history—we’ll see the breakup of this extraordinary marriage between Margaret and Snowdon. This season, you see how it starts, and what a strange character, a brilliant character Snowdon was.”


While Kirby, who has played Princess Margaret in the first two seasons, knows that the cast will undergo a shakeup, she’s not afraid to admit that she’s jealous of all the juicy drama Bonham Carter will get to experience as the character.

“I was so desperate to do further on,” Kirby told Vanity Fair, “because it’s going to be so fun [to enact] when their marriage starts to break down. You see the beginnings of that in episode 10. I kept saying to [Peter Morgan], ‘Can’t you put in an episode where Margaret and Tony have a big row, and she throws a plate at his head?’ I’m so envious of the actress who gets to do it.”

Kirby even went so far as to suggest that Margaret’s life could be turned into its own series, telling Morgan, “‘We need to do a spinoff.’ You actually could do 10 hours on Margaret because she’s so fascinating. There’s so much to her, and she’s such an interesting character. I know that parts like this hardly ever come along."


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