What Matt Smith Likes About Playing Prince Phillip On The Crown

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The Crown's Matt Smith recently revealed what he enjoys about playing Prince Phillip on the drama, and it's got nothing to do with all those fancy period costumes. As it turns out, he sees the character as being very conflicted in some fundamental ways. Here's what Smith had to say about his take on the character:

I'm always really compelled by the deep conflict in Philip. He's a very male character, whatever that means nowadays, and his duty to his wife and the strange conflict it generates in him: the desire to be the head of the family and being usurped.

When Matt Smith uses the word "usurped" to refer to what seems to frequently happen in the main relationship on The Crown, he's not kidding. Prince Phillip is, of course, married to Queen Elizabeth, and (as you might imagine) being married to a royal is never easy, and the process is even less so when you're married to the ruler of several lands. Added to that is the fact that, as Smith says, Phillip is "a very male character," and you have a recipe for marital conflicts in Buckingham Palace.

While Matt Smith demurs in his words to Variety about in what way Prince Phillip is "male," anyone who watched the first season of The Crown, or anyone who knows a lot about royal protocol, could tell you what he meant by that statement. As most men would want, especially at the time he married the soon-to-be Queen of England, Phillip simply wanted to be able to actually act as the head of his new family. But, royal tradition often dictated that he take several steps back from that duty to let his wife or royal standards take precedence. And, for someone who was used to basically controlling his own destiny, this caused repeated sticking points for the young couple over the course of Season 1.

When Season 2 of The Crown gets underway, Prince Phillip will be sent on a five-month journey to act as the official royal face for several public events, including the Olympics, but, unfortunately, that doesn't mean that the conflicts between the headstrong Duke of Edinburgh and his Queenly wife are over. According to Smith, those tensions will continue to be a factor this season:

There's a scene in Season 2 where Philip and Elizabeth have an argument about where Charles should go to school. He says, 'You can't keep falling back on what the royal family needs, what about what I need?' And I like the fact that Philip's needy! He's a needy man but he's also a really male man. He needs her attention.

It definitely sounds like Phillip will keep butting heads with Elizabeth when it comes to her making room for him and his wishes in their rule-filled life. You can see how the two overcome their issues when The Crown returns for Season 2 on Netflix on December 8.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.