The second season of The Crown on Netflix features Lord Altrincham, the man who wrote a scathing criticism of the Queen in his book Princess Margaret. Actor John Heffernan portrays the British peer, whose scathing attack on Her Majesty was so stinging that she refused to speak to him for several decades after publication in 1957. The episode is expected to be available on Netflix worldwide from December 8th 2017. John Heffernan is Lord Altrincham, a Hated Character from The Crown

Real Lord Altrincham

In season two of The Crown, John Heffernan plays the character of Lord Altrincham. It was the most physically demanding role I’ve ever had. The scene where he has an argument with the Queen in her bedroom was my toughest day on set and took six hours to film. When you’re playing somebody who’s so despised by everybody, it’s hard not to take it home with you and feel like you’re hated yourself.

John Heffernan is Lord Altrincham, a Hated Character from The Crown
John Heffernan is Lord Altrincham, a Hated Character from The Crown

Who is Lord Altrincham

For those who haven’t seen The Crown on Netflix and don’t want any spoilers: don’t read this. The show’s 2nd season showcased John Heffernan as the arrogant writer and critic of Queen Elizabeth II, Lord Altrincham. Though he managed to capture the Queen’s attention early on in the first season with his profile in The Sunday Times Magazine, many found him dislikable.

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Criticizing the monarch – has it ever gone unpunished?

What followed the publication of Lord Altrincham’s piece in The Times was an outpouring of outrage. Letters to The Times and other newspapers protested the rudeness of the attacks on Her Majesty. The offending passage was removed before the second printing of the book but not before it had been reprinted in The Illustrated London News. The following day saw a record number of subscriptions to The Times and the subsequent boost to sales made Altrincham’s essay one of the most profitable pieces ever published by that newspaper.

John Heffernan is Lord Altrincham, a Hated Character from The Crown
John Heffernan is Lord Altrincham, a Hated Character from The Crown

When did Lord Altrincham appear in Season 1?

If you watched the first season of The Crown on Netflix, chances are that you have come across John Heffernan playing the role of Lord Altrincham. If you’re looking for an analysis of his character, this blog post is for you! Lord Altrincham appears in Season 1 during Episode 4 – which is the fourth episode of the series. In the episode, we see how he writes a scathing criticism of the Queen and it gets published in a magazine called The Spectator.

Where does Altrincham come from?

The series begins in the year 1937. King George V was dead and his eldest son had died so Prince Edward became king and took on the name of King Edward VIII. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister. When the show started it seemed that there was an interesting power struggle between these two men and the Duke of Windsor (the ex-King who abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson) but soon enough King Edward VIII abdicated because he wanted to marry Wallis Simpson.

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What did other critics say about him?

In season 2 of The Crown, John Heffernan as Lord Altrincham penned the essay: What has the Royal Family ever done for Us?. Immediately after it was published in February 1968, he became despised by members of the Royal Family and general British citizens. One critic said that his character looked like an idiot. One can easily see why critics would say this about him.

What was John Heffernan’s character profile like in The Crown?

John Heffernan plays Lord Altrincham in The Crown. His character’s back-story seems to come to life when he discusses the Queen during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Throughout season 2 of The Crown on Netflix, we see that there are many people who have criticized the Queen and her government.

John Heffernan is Lord Altrincham, a Hated Character from The Crown

Fun facts about John Heffernan

John Heffernan was cast as Lord Altrincham in the Netflix series The Crown. In this episode, he pens a scathing opinion piece that both infuriates and humiliates the Queen. The character created waves of hatred and bitterness towards the British aristocracy – but who exactly is John Heffernan? Born and raised in Kilkenny, Ireland, John developed his love for theatre while attending Christian Brothers School there.

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Final thoughts

A brief plot summary of season 2: As WWII begins to heat up and Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister, the royal family deals with the abdication of King Edward VIII. Then there’s Princess Margaret’s love life; an affair with Group Captain Peter Townsend that leads to an awkward wedding proposal. The thing about John Heffernan as Lord Altrincham is that he so quickly brings this disgusting character to life–you almost despise him right off the bat.

Frequently asked questions

Did the Queen ever meet Lord Altrincham?

No. We’ve seen the Queen meet with members of the royal family and other world leaders, but as far as we know she never met with Lord Altrincham. And though it’s common in England for an aristocrat to be called Lord before their last name even if they’re not part of the peerage, it’s hard to imagine that he used his title when he was disparaging her character.

Why did Lord Altrincham change his name?

In case you didn’t know, The Crown (TV series) first aired in 2016. It’s about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and an inside look at the monarchy. John Heffernan plays Lord Altrincham in Season 2 and he’s easy to dislike. Even though he married Princess Margaret – or Princess Grizelda as she calls herself – he commits treason by penning a scathing criticism of the Queen that was published in the newspapers.

How old is John Heffernan?

Heffernan attended Trinity College, Dublin and King’s Inns in Dublin. He then moved to London where he earned a living as an actor. Over the course of his 50-year career, he’s done stage work with the likes of Sean O’Casey and Patrick Süskind and screen work with actors like Sir Ian McKellen and Alan Rickman.

He played the role of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in Shadowlands, opposite Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis.

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