Peter Morgan’s royal drama The Crown has become one of Netflix‘s biggest titles over the past four years, with stars such as Claire Foy and Olivia Colman portraying the longest reigning monarch – Queen Elizabeth II.
Now The Crown cast is undergoing yet another change ahead of season five, with Olivier-winner Imelda Staunton taking on the role of the Queen, and heavyweights Jonathan Pryce, Lesley Manville and Elizabeth Debicki set to play other royals as the show navigates the 90’s.
The upcoming series, which won’t arrive for some time, is expected to be a dramatic one, covering The Queen’s “annus horribilis” which saw multiple royal separations, the death of Princess Diana and the Windsor Castle fire.
Here’s everything we know so far about The Crown’s fifth season.
When will The Crown season 5 be released?
Meanwhile, production on the sixth and final season is expected to begin in 2022.
The two-year gap between seasons isn’t unprecedented and is not down to the coronavirus pandemic – the show took a production hiatus when the cast was last changed for season three.
The Crown season 5 cast
The Crown’s cast will be changing for the third and final time for season five, with a whole host of top acting talent taking on the royals for the drama’s 90’s period.
While casting for Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, Prince Philip and Princess Diana has been officially confirmed by Peter Morgan, fans are eager to find out who’ll be portraying season five and six’s Camilla Parker Bowles and Princes Charles, with Variety recently reporting that Dominic West (The Affair) is in talks to play the heir to the throne.
Imelda Staunton plays the Queen
Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter franchise, Flesh and Blood) will play Queen Elizabeth II herself, taking over from Olivia Colman and Claire Foy.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to confirm Imelda Staunton as Her Majesty The Queen,” The Crown’s creator Peter Morgan told Deadline. “Imelda is an astonishing talent and will be a fantastic successor to Claire Foy and Olivia Colman.”
Speaking on This Morning in October 2020, Staunton said that she had already started working on the role by listening and watching archival footage of the monarch, ahead of filming in summer 2021.
During a chat with Eamonn and Ruth today, Imelda Staunton revealed how she is preparing to play the Queen in season five of The Crown ????
— This Morning (@thismorning) October 21, 2020
Lesley Manville plays Princess Margaret
The Crown depicts the duty-bound Queen and her flamboyant younger sister, Princess Margaret, as two sides of a coin; and for season five, the role of Margaret will be played by acclaimed actress Lesley Manville.
The Oscar-nominated Phantom Thread star (who was reportedly the producers’ first choice for the role) will be following Helena Bonham Carter and Vanessa Kirby, who both played Princess Margaret in previous seasons.
“I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret, the baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses and I really don’t want to let the side down,” Manville said.
She added: “Furthermore, to play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy.”
The Olivier Award-winning actress recently opened up about the “pressure” of playing Princess Margaret, revealing that she was “reading all the books” and rewatching The Crown in preparation for the role.
Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana
Also confirmed for season five is Elizabeth Debicki as The Crown’s Princess Diana, who will later reprise the role for season six, when The Crown will end. The actress, known for The Night Manager and Tenet, is following in the footsteps of Emma Corrin, who originated the role in season four.
Debicki said: “Princess Diana’s spirit, her words and her actions live in the hearts of so many. It is my true privilege and honour to be joining this masterful series, which has had me hooked from episode one.”
In an interview with The Mirror, she added: “It’s a dream role. She is such a remarkable human being and she really does still live in the hearts of so many people. I’m overwhelmed, I’m terrified and I’m excited. I can’t wait to start.”
Jonathan Pryce plays Prince Philip
Oscar nominee Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones) will take over from Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies in the part of Prince Philip.
“I am delighted to be working with Netflix again,” he said. “The positive experience I had making The Two Popes has given me the confidence to tackle the daunting prospect of portraying Prince Philip. To be doing so with Peter Morgan and in the company of Imelda and Lesley will be a joy.”
Who will play Prince Charles?
While Josh O’Connor was the last actor to portray Prince Charles on The Crown, Netflix has not yet officially announced who will be taking over the role.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Affair star Dominic West is in “final talks” to play the current heir to the throne in season five, however the news has not yet been confirmed.
As for other actors who should replace Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, we’ve suggested Succession’s Matthew Macfadyen, The Split’s Stephen Mangan and Wolf Hall’s Damian Lewis for the part – Netflix take note!
Who will play Camilla Parker Bowles?
There’s currently no word as to which actress will be taking over the role of Camilla Parker Bowles in season five but we have a few top picks as to who should replace Emerald Fennell as Camilla.
From Criminal’s Katherine Kelly and Bodyguard’s Keeley Hawes, to Titanic’s Kate Winslet and Chernobyl’s Emily Watson – there are many eligible Camilla’s for casting directors to consider when it comes to seasons five and six.
What period will The Crown season 5 cover?
Every season of The Crown so far has covered roughly a 10-year period so, following that pattern, we should expect season five to cover 1990 up to 2000.
However, Peter Morgan has confirmed that The Crown will end after its sixth season and has previously said that he has a “20-year-rule”, which means he doesn’t like to write about events or relationships that have happened within the past 20 years. Therefore, if season six is expected to air in 2023, then The Crown may finish around 2003/the mid-noughties, and season five would need to be shorter – from 1990 until 1997, perhaps.
If we’re correct, then these are the potential events in Royal history that season five could cover:
- November 1990 – John Major is officially appointed Prime Minister by the Queen following Margaret Thatcher’s resignation.
- December 1990 – Princess Eugenie is christened.
- January 1991 – The Gulf War begins.
- February 1991 – Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombs explode at London’s Paddington and Victoria stations.
- February 1992 – The Queen commemorates her Ruby Jubilee.
- March 1992 – The Duke and Duchess of York (Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson) announce they are to separate after six years of marriage.
- March 1992 – Princess Diana’s father – John Spencer, 8th Early Spencer, dies from pneumonia at the age of 68.
- April 1992 – Princess Anne announces her divorce from Captain Mark Phillips.
- June 1992 – Princess Diana’s controversial biography, Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton, is published.
- August 1992 – The Daily Mirror publishes intimate photographs of the Duchess of York (Sarah Ferguson) and Texan businessman John Bryan.
- November 1992 – Windsor Castle is damaged in a fire, causing millions of pounds worth of damage, shortly after which the Queen describes the year as an Annus Horribilis.
- November 1992 – Prime Minister John Major announces that the Queen is to be taxed from 1993 onwards, marking the end of 60 tax-free years for the monarchy.
- December 1992 – Princes Charles and Princess Diana announce their plans to separate.
- December 1992 – Princess Anne marries Timothy Lawrence.
- April 1993 – Stephen Lawrence is killed in South London.
- April 1993 – The Queen announces that Buckingham Palace will open to the public for the first time.
- November 1993 – Princess Diana sues the Daily Mirror over photographs taken of her whilst at a gym.
- December 1993 – Princess Diana announces her withdrawal from public life and the Queen speaks of her hopes for peace in Northern Ireland.
- January 1994 – Princes Charles retires from competitive polo.
- July 1994 – Tony Blair wins the Labour Party leadership election.
- October 1994 – Prince Philip attends a ceremony in Israel where his late mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, is honoured for sheltering Jewish families from the Nazis during World War II.
- March 1995 – The Queen and Prince Philip visit Norther Ireland for the first time since the IRA and Loyalist ceasefire, before the Queen arrives in Cape Town for the first royal visit to South Africa in 50 years.
- May 1995 – Britain celebrates the 50th anniversary of VE Day.
- June 1995 – John Major resigns as leader of the Conservative Party to reassert his authority, and wins the leadership election a month later.
- November 1995 – The Queen Mother has a hip replacement operation, becoming the oldest patient to undergo such surgery at the age of 95.
- November 1995 – A Panorama interview with Princess Diana airs on BBC One, in which the Princess of Wales addresses Prince Charles’ affair, her own adultery, her depression and bulimia and the future of the monarchy.
- December 1995 – The Queen writes to Charles and Diana, urging them to divorce as soon as possible.
- April 1996 – Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson divorce.
- August 1996 – Prince Charles and Princess Diana complete their divorce proceedings.
- May 1997 – Labour Party leader Tony Blair is elected as Prime Minister, beating incumbent John Major.
- June 1997 – The auction of dresses owned by Princess Diana raise over £2 million for charity.
- July 1997 – The IRA declares a ceasefire.
- August 1997 – Princess Diana dies in a car crash in Paris.
- September 1997 – The Queen makes a nationwide broadcast tribute to Diana the day before her funeral is held at Westminster Abbey.
- November 1997 – The Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
When will The Crown season 5 begin filming?
Speaking in October 2020, series lead Imelda Staunton told This Morning that The Crown season five would begin filming in July 2021.
Earlier in the year, Staunton told Entertainment Weekly that her research for the role is “ongoing” – but she anticipates filming on season five being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that so many TV productions have been on pause.
“I think everything in the world is going to get pushed on, isn’t it?” she said. “So who knows? I’ve been chipping away at it quietly.”
Deadline previously reported that filming for season five is set to begin in June 2021, and that a pause was always planned in between seasons five and six to account for the cast changeover.
After all, seasons one and two were filmed together and released in 2016 and 2017; and seasons three and four were filmed together and released in 2019 and (hopefully) 2020.
What will happen in The Crown season 5?
The Crown season four carried us up until the end of Margaret Thatcher’s time in Number 10 Downing Street, in 1990. This means that season five will begin with a new decade, and a new British Prime Minister: John Major.
Major was Prime Minister from 1990 until May 1997, which would prove a neat stopping point for season five if the show’s creator, Peter Morgan, intends to cover Princess Diana’s tragic Paris car crash and death in season six (she died in August 1997).
The early 1990s proved extremely eventful for the British royal family: Princess Anne got divorced; Prince Andrew separated from Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson; and Princess Diana and Prince Charles also separated, kicking off ‘The War of the Waleses’ and shattering the public’s “fairytale” image of the couple.
Andrew Morton’s 1992 biography of Diana proved particularly scandalous, revealing Princess Diana’s bulimia.
Three years later, Diana gave an explosive interview to Martin Bashir on BBC One’s Panorama, in which she famously spoke about Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles: “There were three of us in the marriage.”
Find out more about Charles and Diana
Did you know Prince Charles dated Diana’s sister Sarah Spencer?
It turns out there was a lot more to Charles and Diana’s marriage than we thought.
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You can watch seasons 1-4 of The Crown right now 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.