The royals are in crisis when The Crown season 5 premieres this week. Like clockwork, a new cast is taking over the royal drama. Imelda Staunton is stepping in as the late Queen Elizabeth II, while Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana with Dominic West as Prince Charles. Young Prince William and Prince Harry will also make appearances.
The Crown season 5 premieres (with all 10 episodes arriving at once) on Wednesday (Nov. 9) at 3 a.m. ET on Netflix (opens in new tab).
The Crown season 5 will cover the tumultuous 1990s, including the divorces of Prince Charles and Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson and Princess Anne and Mark Phillips. Queen Elizabeth II's recent death is likely to put an even greater spotlight on this installment of The Crown.
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.
Here's how you can watch The Crown season 5.
When does The Crown season 5 come out on Netflix?
The Crown season 5 premieres Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 3 a.m. ET.
All 10 episodes will drop at the same time.
The Crown season 5 trailer
The Crown season 5 trailer opens with the devastating fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 and a shot of Queen Elizabeth standing among the charred ruins. From there, the monarch's troubles only grow — most notably, the acrimonious divorce between her son and heir, Prince Charles, and Princess Diana. "How did it come to this?" the queen wonders.
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 (who replaced Claire Foy), in comes Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II. Staunton is familiar to fans of Harry Potter and from the Downton Abbey films.
Staunton 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."
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 the Tenet actress looks eerily like the late icon.
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 from Erin Doherty. And actress Olivia Williams is the next Camilla Parker Bowles, memorably portrayed by Emerald Fennell last season.
James Murray is taking on the controversial role of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, with Emma Laird Craig as Sarah, Duchess of York. Sam Woolf is playing Prince Edward, the queen's youngest child.
Another major addition is Prime Minister John Major, who served from 1990 to 1997. Major will be played by Jonny Lee Miller (formerly of Elementary).
Here are other The Crown season 5 cast members:
- Senan West as Prince William of Wales, Charles and Diana's elder son
- Will Powell as Prince Harry, Charles and Diana's younger son
- Marcia Warren as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
- Salim Daw as Mohamed Al-Fayed, a wealthy businessman
- Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed, Mohamed's son and Diana's paramour
- Humayun Saeed as Dr. Hasnat Khan, Diana's paramour
- Bertie Carvel as Tony Blair, a Labour Party leader and eventual Prime Minister
- Prasanna Puwanarajah as Martin Bashir, a journalist
- Timothy Dalton as Peter Townsend, Princess Margaret's former paramour
- Natascha McElhone as Penny, Lady Romsey, a second cousin of Prince Charles
- Andrew Havill as Robert Fellowes, the Queen's private secretary and brother-in-law of Princess Diana
- Flora Montgomery as Norma Major, John Major's wife
- Lydia Leonard as Cherie Blair, Tony Blair's 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 Diana'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.
Next: Here's everything we know so far about The Crown season 6.