I think the actors portraying Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Philip and his mother are outstanding! I am less enthused with the portrayals by Olivia Coleman, Marion Bailey, and Helena Bonham Carter.
IMO, Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby were so brilliant in their portrayals of the Queen and Princess Margaret that Coleman and Bonham Carter just can't compare, despite being competent actresses. There was something so incandescent in Claire Foy's face. She gave such depth, substance and humanity to the Queen in her portrayal, even despite not being a great physical match. While Kirby was facially similar to Margaret, Kirby was way too tall, towering over Foy when in fact, Margaret was even smaller than the Queen.
Oddly, Bonham Carter resembles an older Foy, and Coleman resembles an older Kirby. And if the roles Foy and Kirby portrayed had been switched, they most certainly could have done an equally great job. Bonham Carter looks nothing like Margaret, and the portrayal is overly slutty. I think Margaret was rebellious and imperiously demanding as well as wayward, with huge emotional problems, but I doubt she carried herself in the manner written for Bonham Carter, despite the naughty wit that Margaret definitely had. I think Margaret was very vulnerable underneath her bravado and her imperious manner.
Coleman is simply overly stiff and IMO, she tries too hard yet fails to replicate Foy's presence, elegance, and steel beneath the discreet and careful manner. The camera loves Foy's face. The camera does not love Coleman's face. It's unsurprising that Coleman has been nominated for awards for this performance, but the award nods are undeserving. I certainly hope she doesn't win anything for this, but she apparently has already won a Golden Globe; an Emmy along with British honors will surely also follow. I don't think she should have won the Oscar last year either for the Queen Anne comedy drama, although it may have been more deserved than this current portrayal.
I really miss Foy and Matt Smith together (even though Menzies is an excellent older Philip). If you watch the end of season 2 to catch back up with the story before viewing season 3, the effect of the major casting changes is overly jarring. Making it even more discordant is the fact that only a year or two is supposed to have passed between the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3! There's no way Foy/Smith would have changed that drastically into Coleman/Menzies within that short period of time. Again, I'm not bothered by Menzies being cast as Philip, but I am by Coleman cast as the Queen, despite Coleman physically looking the part extremely well.
I don't think the role of young Camilla was cast well, and neither was the role of Andrew Parker Bowles. In fact, the actor who introduces the Anne character to Parker Bowles looks more like Parker Bowles than the actor who protrays Parker Bowles.
AFAIK, Camilla would have dropped everything in a minute if she felt that Charles would actually buck up the nerve to go against his family and marry her. When Charles was sent away on a military assignment, Camilla knew she couldn't hold out waiting for Charles any longer. I'm not sure that what The Crown
has suggested holds any truth regarding parental encouragement being involved in Camilla and Andrew P-B deciding to marry.
In regard to the relationship between Anne and Parker-Bowles, I read that since APB is Catholic, Anne knew it was impossible for them to marry. But by all accounts, Anne was head-over-heels in love with APB! Anne was not engaging in a casual hook-up with Parker-Bowles by any means. Anne married Mark Phillips on the rebound after Camilla and APB married.
It has been widely reported that APB was very promiscuous. He had an on-off relationship with Camilla in addition to many other conquests. Therefore, it's unclear what APB's romantic feelings for Anne actually were. But to this day, they remain friends.
I would have loved to see the kidnapping true story dramatized, but filmmakers have explained that they had to make choices and narrow down the incidents they covered. Maybe they felt the focus would shift too much toward Anne and away from the Charles storyline had they focused too much on Anne. The untrue sequence with Anne setting up her aunt to run into the media is apparently supposed to help suffice for how ballsy, forceful and in charge Anne's personality is.