Thanks to its exquisite portrayal of Queen Elizabeth‘s rise to power and its effect on her family and the political climate, The Crown became one of 2016’s most compelling breakout debuts — and now, it’s time to learn behind-the-scenes secrets!

Season 2 lands on Netflix on Friday, Dec. 8, picking up in 1956 during the Suez Crisis in Egypt and takes viewers through the next eight years, covering personal and political dramas. Like the previous season, much of the drama relates to private scandals and heartache behind the palace walls.

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“The relationship between [Prince] Philip [Matt Smith] and Elizabeth [Claire Foy] is really at the heart of our series,” director Philip Martin explains. In Season 2, the couple’s priorities have never been more different. They have a young family, but Elizabeth is tied to England as she tries to navigate the changing times. Meanwhile, Philip is traveling the world, including to Australia for the 1956 Olympics.

One of the saddest storylines from the first season was the exploration of Princess Margaret’s (Vanessa Kirby) love life and the restrictions imposed on her because her sister was Queen. “We meet Margaret in a very low place in season two,” Vanessa, 29, says. But things will soon look up for the princess, who embarks on a steamy affair with Antony Armstrong-Jones (former Downton Abbey star Matthew Goode).

When it comes to life behind the scenes of the show, The Crown’s royal advisor, Major David Rankin-Hunt, who worked at the palace for 33 years, gives the production a big thumbs-up. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I see Claire Foy,” he says. “She looks so much like the Queen it’s astonishing.”

Another interesting fact? While the series uses creative license, it also has 20 researchers who investigate locations, stories, and costume design. Also, the production isn’t allowed to film inside Buckingham Palace, but they’ve shot scenes on the doorstep. “I always imagine Queen Elizabeth looking out of the curtain and seeing us marauding up and down with that crew,” director Benjamin Caron laughs. We can’t wait to watch Season 2 — and we bet Queen Elizabeth can’t either!

This story was written by Jenny Cooney Carrillo and Gabrielle Tozer. It originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.

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