17 Shows to Stream If You’re Caught Up with “The Crown”
Over the last few years, “The Crown” has become a sensational show for history buffs and royals fanatics alike, and the new season—which topped all the other premieres in audience popularity—did not disappoint in its dramatic delivery. It focuses on the complicated relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana’s doomed marriage to Prince Charles. So, once you’re done with this edge-of-your-throne series, you might be thinking to yourself, now what?
If you’ve already watched the other three seasons of “The Crown”—and only if you’ve watched all three seasons, because they’re that good— there’s an abundance of shows with the British historical focus that you might be looking for next. From fictional kings and queens, to various interpretations of British royal history, you’ll find that you actually have plenty of monarchy-themed shows and period dramas to stream.
1. Catherine the Great
This four-part miniseries follows Catherine the Great, played by Helen Mirren, who ruled as the Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796 after overthrowing her husband, King Peter III. The show focuses on the end of her reign, in all her complex and badass glory (including her love for Prince Grigory Potemkin).
2. The Great
If you’re more in the mood to watch young Catherine’s journey to power, give “The Great” a watch. Played by Elle Fanning, Catherine II uses her wits to outsmart her ill-fated schmuck of a husband, Emperor Peter III (hilariously played by Nicholas Hoult). “The Great” was renewed for Season 2, so you have time to catch up now.
Streaming on Hulu
3. The Tudors
“The Tudors” is all about the many marriages of Henry VIII, and the show is not shy about what goes on in the King’s bedroom. Set in 16th-century England, the four-season show covers King Henry’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his affair with Anne Boleyn, the birth of Queen Elizabeth, and King Henry’s subsequent marriages to Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. And of course, all the political turmoil in between.
4. Downton Abbey
Before there was “The Crown,” there was “Downton Abbey,” which was loved for its smart and detailed writing. The British historical drama is set in the 20th century and follows the fictional Yorkshire estate of Downton Abbey, introducing the Crawley family. While the family is fictional, the show still includes historical moments, like the sinking of the Titanic, the Spanish flu, and the Irish War of Independence.
5. The White Queen
“The White Queen” takes place in England circa 1464, where fighting has occurred between the House of York and House of Lancaster for nines years over the rightful ruler. At the center of the violence are three women—Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville—who seduce men and manipulate egos in order to make their own claim to the throne.
6. The White Princess / The Spanish Princess
The sequel to “The White Queen,” “The White Princess” follows Elizabeth “Lizzie” of York played by Jodie Comer, who was the sarcastic assassin Villanelle in “Killing Eve.” In the miniseries, she takes advantage of her fake union to end the War of Roses and unite the houses of York and Lancaster.
“The Spanish Princess” follows the Spanish-born Catherine of Aragon, who is Henry VIII’s first wife. Catherine of Aragon was an effective de facto leader while Henry VIII was in France, as she rallied England together as the country defeated Scotland. “The Spanish Princess” gives us a nuanced look into Catherine’s determination to lead England, despite those who believed she couldn’t because she was a woman.
7. Gentleman Jack
“Gentleman Jack” is the true story about Anne Lister, who is sometimes described as “the first modern lesbian.” Taking place in the 19th century, Anne Lister—nicknamed Gentleman Jack—was a businesswoman who loved science and traveling. She also loved dating, and wrote down every detail about her romantic life in her 26-volume diary.
If you love “The Crown” and “Game of Thrones,” then you’ll be all about “Outlander,” a historical drama that takes a nurse living in post-WWII and transports her back in time to Scotland in 1743. The popular series blends fantasy with history, and there are plenty of steamy scenes between protagonist Claire Randall and her time travel partner in crime, Highland warrior Jamie Fraser.
9. The Royals
Based on Michelle Ray’s book “Falling for Hamlet,” “The Royals” is about a fictional family inspired by the Windsors. Elizabeth Hurley plays Queen Helena, the queen consort of England, and her twin children, Prince Liam and Princess Eleanor. There’s not a drop of truth to this show, but it’s still good fun.
The British historical drama “Victoria” is all about Queen Victoria and her difficult marriage to Prince Albert of Germany. Queen Victoria is just 18 when she assumes the crown, and over the course of three seasons, viewers follow the young woman as she learns how to be a leader, a mother, and a wife.
11. Elizabeth I
Starring Helen Mirren, this 2005 miniseries covers about half Queen Elizabeth I’s reign as Queen of England. The first part of “Elizabeth I” dives into her relationship with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, and the second unveils her relationship with Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. While Queen Elizabeth I was nicknamed the “Virgin Queen,” many historians believe the queen was actually involved in several romantic relationships—but she always put her country first and foremost.
12. The Royal House of Windsor
“The Royal House of Windsor” is a fascinating look into how the Windsors came to be and have thrived for over 100 years, despite scandal after scandal—from Edward VIII’s shocking abdication of the throne to Prince Charles’s marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles.
If you saw the film “Mary Queen of Scots,” then you know about the intense history between the cousins. Although Queen Elizabeth I thought about naming Mary, Queen of Scots, as her heir at one point, she ultimately decided against it as she calcified her claim to the throne by giving birth to male heirs. The CW drama “Reign” takes a closer (and more dramatized) look at Mary’s life leading up to her marriage to Prince Francis, his death and Mary’s political standing, and eventually, her “standoff” with Queen Elizabeth I.
Starring Kit Harington, the miniseries “Gunpowder” is about the fictional story of Robert Catesby, a committed British Catholic who plans with another by the name of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Parliament and kill King James I. The historical event is famously called the Gunpowder Plot.
Streaming on HBO Max
15. Wolf Hall
Before Claire Foy played a young Queen Elizabeth II, she actually portrayed another English queen: Anne Boleyn. “Wolf Hall” zooms in on Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII’s advisor, who made it possible for the King to annul his first marriage with Catherine of Aragon in order to be with Anne Boleyn (by seceding from the Vatican). But when Boleyn only gave him a daughter (future Queen Elizabeth I), Thomas Cromwell played a major role in finding a way to get rid of her so that the King could court Jane Seymour.
Streaming on Prime Video with a PBS Masterpiece subscription
16. The Last Czars
Czar Nicholas II was the last emperor of Russia, whose reign was blamed for the deterioration of the country, and ultimately led to his and his entire family’s execution by the Bolsheviks. “The Last Czars” dramatizes the events and also provides historical commentary, which will interest you if you want to know more about one of the more modern monarchies and its ultimate collapse.
17. The Windsors
“The Windsors” is a satirical look into the life of the Royal family. The series cartoonifies real-life people like Camilla Parker Bowles, who is hilariously determined to become Queen, Pippa Middleton, who is super jealous of her sister Kate because she gets to marry Prince William, and others. The third season focuses on Harry and Meghan’s relationship, which is something we may not ever get to see play out in “The Crown,” so soak it all up.