All hail the new round of royals! The Crown season 5 is bequeathing the titles and tiaras once again to a new cast. The Netflix drama just released the first photos of Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Dominic West as Prince Charles — though newly-leaked set photos show off more of the former, who has an uncanny resemblance. Netflix follow a recent image of Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II.
The Crown is returning for two more seasons with entirely new actors in the roles. In addition to the three actors, the season 5 cast includes Jonathan Pryce as the recently deceased Prince Philip.
The Crown season 5 will move forward in time, just as previous installments have. It will cover the tumultuous 1990s, including the divorces of Prince Charles and Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson and Princess Anne and Mark Phillips.
The fourth season of The Crown debuted in November 2020 to glowing reviews for its portrayal of the courtship, marriage and growing conflict between Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) and Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin). The two actors went on to win multiple awards for their performances.
And The Crown fans will be happy to know that season 5 won't be the last. Creator Peter Morgan has gone back and forth about when he wanted to end the show, but in July 2020, he announced that The Crown season 6 will be the final chapter of one of the best Netflix shows.
"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," he told Deadline (opens in new tab). "To be clear, Series 6 will not bring us any closer to present—it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”
(So, don't expect to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's courtship, wedding and subsequent exit from the royal family.)
Here's everything we know so far about The Crown season 5.
The Crown season 5 release date confirmed
Filming on previous seasons lasted around seven months and then post-production took at least eight months. All four completed seasons of The Crown premiered in either November or December.
The Crown season 5 cast
The Crown changes its cast every two seasons, which means it's time for a royal swap. Out goes Olivia Colman, in comes Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II. Staunton is familiar to fans of Harry Potter and from the Downton Abbey movie.
Staunton recently told BBC Radio, "I think my sort of extra challenge, as if I needed it, is that I'm now doing the Queen that we're a little more familiar with. With Claire Foy, it was almost history and now I'm playing one that people could say 'she doesn't do that,' 'she's not like that,' and that's my personal bête noire."
On July 30, Netflix released the first photo of Staunton as the queen:
Sadly, we only got one season of the fabulous Emma Corrin as Princess Diana, but the casting of Elizabeth Debicki (Tenet, Widows) is truly genius, as evidenced by this first look photo from Netflix:
More recently, via the New York Post and SplashNews.com (opens in new tab), we got more looks at Debicki's Diana. And suffice it to say, she's got the look down.
As for Prince Charles, Josh O'Connor will be replaced by Dominic West (The Wire, The Affair). Here he is, looking quite glum and in his usual stance with one hand in his pocket:
Taking over the role of Prince Philip from Tobias Menzies is Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes, Game of Thrones). The real Prince Philip died on April 9 at the age of 99.
We'll miss Helena Bonham Carter's boozy turn as Princess Margaret, but look forward to Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) as the much-put-upon younger sister of the queen.
The feisty Princess Anne will be played by Claudia Harrison, taking over Erin Doherty. And actress Olivia Williams said in an interview that she'll be the next Camilla Parker Bowles, memorably portrayed by Emerald Fennell last season.
No word yet on the casting of other major characters, including Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Prince Edward, Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew (Netflix reportedly had problems finding someone to play the disgraced Duke of York).
The most recent major role to be cast is Prime Minister John Major, who served from 1990 to 1997. Major will be played by Jonny Lee Miller (formerly of Elementary).
Depending on season 5's time period — see more on that below — we may also meet Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Other key figures who may appear in season 5 include the young Prince William and Prince Harry, Timothy Laurence (Princess Anne's second husband) and Sophie Rhys-Jones (Prince Edward's eventual wife).
The Crown season 5 time period and plot
The Crown season 5 is likely to take place in the 1990s, picking up where season 4 left off — with Charles and Diana's marriage on the rocks.
The couple formally separated in 1992, which Queen Elizabeth II has called the "annus horribilis" (horrible year). That year also saw the separation of Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, as well as the official divorce of Princess Anne from Mark Phillips.
Charles and Diana's split was already prime tabloid fodder, but it became even more of a circus after the publication of Andrew Morton's book Diana: Her True Story. Diana herself taped revealing interviews for the tell-all tome.
That year also brought a devastating fire at Windsor Castle, one of the Queen's primary residences.
As far as political and world events, John Major became Prime Minister, succeeding Margaret Thatcher. The UK faced a recession and a currency crisis dubbed "Black Wednesday." They also joined U.S.-led forces to liberate Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The Northern Ireland peace process saw a ceasefire and, later, the Good Friday Agreement.
Major was PM until 1997, when Tony Blair took over, which would take The Crown up to Princess Diana's tragic death in a car crash in Paris. That would give room for season 6 to cover the aftermath, the royal family's much-criticized initial response and how they moved forward from Di's death.
Since Morgan has said the show will not cover recent events, it's unlikely that fans will get a fictionalized portrayal of the relationships between Prince William and Kate Middleton or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
We're guessing that The Crown may end in 2002, which saw the Queen Mother's and Princess Margaret's deaths. It was also the year of the Queen's Golden Jubilee, which would bring the show full circle from season 1's coronation.
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