The Crown casts Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret for fifth and final season

"The baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses and I really don't want to let the side down," the Maleficent star said.

Lesley Manville

Netflix has confirmed that Lesley Manville will play Princess Margaret in series five of The Crown.

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The streaming site announced the casting of the Talking Heads star in a tweet published this morning, along with a statement from the 64-year-old actress.

“I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret,” Manville said. “The baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses and I really don’t want to let the side down.”

“Furthermore, to play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy,” she added.

The role of Princess Margaret on the Netflix historical drama has been portrayed by Vanessa Kirby in the first two seasons and Helena Bonham Carter in series three and the upcoming series four.

Netflix’s confirmation follows a report by The Sun which claimed that Manville was the producers’ first choice to play Princess Margaret during “one of the darkest periods of her life”.

“Lesley is hugely respected by the creators of The Crown and was their first choice to play Princess Margaret this time,” a source told the publication. “They wanted a star who could tackle the difficult role of a royal entering one of the darkest periods of her life, when the Windsors faced endless scandals and she was dogged by ill health.”

“That’s why Lesley was one of the first actors they approached to join the new cast, and remains one of the few who has fully committed to The Crown,” they added.

Manville recently starred in BBC Two sitcom Mum and Sky’s Save Me Too, as well as blockbusters Maleficent, Phantom Thread and Romeo and Juliet.

She will appear alongside Imelda Staunton, who is playing Queen Elizabeth II, in the Netflix drama’s fifth and final series. The actresses have previously worked together in 2004 film Vera Drake and Maleficent.

Series four of The Crown is predicted to be released by the end of 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic cut production on the season short by a few weeks.

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Series 1-3 of The Crown are available to stream on Netflix. You can also check out the best Netflix series and best Netflix movies to keep you entertained or visit to our TV guide for more to watch.