Salute The Crown season 5 — and its changing of the guard. Netflix's award-winning royal drama is returning for two more seasons with an entirely new cast playing Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Prince Philip and Princess Margaret.
The Crown season 5 will move forward in time, just as previous installments have, which means we'll say goodbye to Olivia Colman and curtsy to Imelda Staunton as Her Majesty.
The fourth season of the show debuted in November 2020 to glowing reviews for its portrayal of the courtship, marriage and growing conflict between Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.
The Crown season 5 will cover the tumultuous 1990s, which includes the divorces of Prince Charles and Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson and Princess Anne and Mark Phillips.
And 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.
"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. "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
Netflix has not announced The Crown season 5's release date, but it is expected to begin filming in June 2021.
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.
So, our best guess on when The Crown season 5 will debut is November 2022.
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.
Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth and final season of The Crown. pic.twitter.com/hUOob58A9pJanuary 31, 2020
Taking over the role of Prince Philip from Tobias Menzies is Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes, Game of Thrones).
Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Philip in the final two seasons of The Crown (Seasons 5 and 6), alongside Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville. pic.twitter.com/zI7NotOfc4August 13, 2020
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.
Lesley Manville will play Princess Margaret in the fifth season of The Crown. pic.twitter.com/R5aZEBOW0tJuly 2, 2020
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.
Elizabeth Debicki will play Princess Diana in the final two seasons of The Crown (Seasons 5 and 6). pic.twitter.com/Z3CjHuJ56BAugust 16, 2020
As for Prince Charles, Josh O'Connor will reportedly be replaced by Dominic West (The Wire, The Affair).
No word yet on the casting of other major characters, including:
- Princess Anne
- Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
- Prince Andrew
- Prince Edward
- Sarah Ferguson
- Camilla Parker Bowles
- Prime Minister John Major
Other key figures likely to 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).
And depending on season 5's time period — see more on that below — we may also meet Prime Minister Tony Blair.
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 Middle 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.
- Best Netflix movies to watch