Season four of The Crown has launched with the kind of ecstatic reaction that Netflix executives must have been dreaming of – the critics and viewers are hooked, some to the point of binge-watching the entire 10-part series. So the question is: what’s next and when will it end?
The fourth series concludes in 1990, with the resignation of Margaret Thatcher (played by Gillian Anderson in The Crown cast) and Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage is disintegrating.
As for The Crown season five, which won’t be arriving on Netflix until 2022, Imelda Staunton will be inheriting the role of Queen Elizabeth II for the 1990’s – a tumultuous decade for the Royal Family which saw numerous divorces, a number of tragic deaths and a fire at Windsor Castle.
But will The Crown continue for another series after that? And if so, considering that the timeline of events would then begin to encroach on the modern day, what would a sixth series cover?
Read on for everything you need to know about The Crown’s future and when it will end.
When will The Crown end?
The Crown creator Peter Morgan reversed an earlier decision to end the drama at the end of season five and announced that season six would go ahead as originally planned.
In January, Peter Morgan confirmed that while he had imagined The Crown would run for six seasons, the drama would end after series five, announcing in an official statement: “It has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop.”
However, the writer made a U-turn six months later and confirmed that The Crown would in fact stretch to a sixth series.
In a statement published on Netflix UK and Ireland’s Twitter page in July, Morgan wrote: “As we started to discuss the storylines for Season 5, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons.”
Writer/creator Peter Morgan: “As we started to discuss the storylines for Series 5, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons.”
— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) July 9, 2020
Speaking about his change of plan, Morgan told The Hollywood Reporter in August that the initial shortening of The Crown’s run was down to him being “exhausted”.
“The truth is people have just been so supportive and so kind. They were so kind to go with me on the five-season version. That was an act of generosity because it was always pitched as being six seasons and always imagined to be that,” he said. “And then I think they just looked at the state I was in, which is a classic showrunner look. You look slightly green and yellow and you have bags under your eyes, and you look at least 10 years older than you actually are.
“At that point, people say, ‘Just let the poor man out of his misery.’ But then in the course of meeting the actors, they were all furious they were only getting one season [laughs],” he added. “They were like, ‘Well, that’s not fair. How come Claire Foy gets two and Olivia Colman gets two and I only get one?'”
So, as long as Morgan makes no further changes as to the length of The Crown, it looks as though we’ll get another two seasons – although, we’ll be waiting a while for them to arrive on our screens, with season five expected to be released in 2022.
What years will The Crown cover?
Season five is expected to pick up in the 1990s, as the Queen endures her “annus horribilis” and Diana dies tragically in the car crash in Paris in 1997.
Every series of The Crown so far has covered approximately a 10-year period, with season one following Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding in 1947 to Winston Churchill’s resignation in 1955, season two spanning 1956 to 1964, season three covering 1964 to 1977 and the most recent series taking on 1977 up to Margaret Thatcher’s departure from office in 1990.
With that in mind, season five would most likely cover the 1990s, touching on the separation of Prince Andrew and his wife Sarah Ferguson, Princess Anne’s divorce from Captain Mark Phillips and the publication of Princess Diana’s tell-all book and her explosive Panorama interview.
We’d also most likely see the leaking of private phone conversations between Diana and James Gilbey as well as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, the Wales’ eventual divorce and the deaths of Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother and Princess Diana.
In theory, series six would therefore span from the millennium up until 2010, with the timeline of events beginning to creep towards the modern day as Prince William and Kate Middleton marry in 2011.
However, Peter Morgan famously has a “20-year-rule” – he doesn’t like to write about events or relationships that have happened within the past 20 years. If he follows his own rule, the pace of The Crown would have to dramatically slow down so that season six (expected in 2023) could finish in the year 2003.
He told The Hollywood Reporter in August: “I’m much more comfortable writing about things that happened at least 20 years ago. I sort of have in my head a 20-year rule. That is enough time and enough distance to really understand something, to understand its role, to understand its position, to understand its relevance.”
Explaining why he wouldn’t want to explore modern royal subjects such as Meghan Markle or Prince Andrew, Morgan said: “Meghan and Harry are in the middle of their journey, and I don’t know what their journey is or how it will end.
“I don’t know where in the scheme of things Prince Andrew or indeed Meghan Markle or Harry will ever appear. We won’t know and you need time to stop something being journalistic. And so I don’t want to write about them because to write about them would instantly make it journalistic.
“To be a dramatist, I think you need perspective and you need to also allow for the opportunity for metaphor. Once something has a metaphorical possibility, it can then become interesting. It’s quite possible, for example, to tell the story of Harry and Meghan through analogy and metaphor, if that’s what you want to do,” he added. “Because there’ve been so many examples in the past, whether it’s Wallis Simpson or Edward VII, or whether it’s Diana and Prince Charles. There have been plenty of opportunities in the past where there have been marital complications. There’ve been wives that have been married into the Royal family that have felt unwelcome and that they don’t fit in. So there are plenty of stories to tell without telling the story of Harry and Meghan.”
Therefore, it’s possible that season six may stop mid-2000s, with the 1990s being split between seasons five and six as there is a lot of ground for The Crown to cover in that 10 year period.
And when her casting was announced, Elizabeth Debicki was also confirmed for seasons five and six. That could mean that The Crown will only reach Diana’s 1997 death sometime during season six.
However, Morgan has changed his mind before, so watch this space!
The Crown season 4 is available to stream on Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our TV Guide, or find out about upcoming new TV shows 2020.