With the recent passing of the late Queen Elizabeth II, now, more than ever, all eyes are on Netflix’s hit drama, The Crown. Praised for its picture-perfect depictions of historical events and it’s on point casting, The Crown has gathered quite a dedicated fan base through the years. Now, with its fifth season set to release this coming November 9th, viewers can’t wait to see what they will show us next.
Known for exposing the complicated lives of the royal family living under the queen’s shadow, this coming season, set in the 90s, is by far one of the most anticipated. The world can’t wait to see how showrunners play out some of the most memorable points in history from the royal family, namely the passing of Princess Diana.
The Role of Queen Elizabeth Will Be Passed On to Imelda Staunton
The coveted role of the late Queen Elizabeth will be played by one of Britain’s finest, Oscar-nominated Imelda Staunton. Staunton is set to take over for Olivia Coleman, just as Coleman had done for Claire Foy when she took on the role back in season three. “As an actor, it was a joy to see how both Claire Foy and Olivia Colman brought something special and unique to Peter Morgan’s scripts,” Staunton stated in an interview with Hollywood Reporter.
“I am genuinely honored to be joining such an exceptional creative team and to be taking The Crown to its conclusion,” she continued. You might be wondering why Staunton looks so familiar. The actress is best known for playing Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter film series.
Queen Elizabeth II Approaches Her ‘Annus Horribilis’
Although The Crown has received some backlash for its uninhibited portrayal of the royal family, it has also been praised for its historical accuracy. Sure, no one outside the palace knows what’s going on behind closed doors, but when it comes to the history books, The Crown has done a phenomenal job in replaying world events.
This season we will be taken through the early 90s, focusing on 1992, which the queen herself has deemed her ‘annus horribilis,’ or ‘horrible year.’ As you can imagine, this will make for some great television. The events included in that horrible year included a devastating fire breaking out at Windsor castle as well as a string of public divorces in the royal family.
Jonathan Pryce Will Rejoin Netflix as Prince Phillip
Just as the role of the queen will be passed on, so will that of her husband, the late Prince Philip, who passed away in April 2021. The prince was first portrayed by actor Matt Smith and, more recently Tobias Menzies. This time around, taking on the role will be British actor Jonathan Pryce.
Pryce has stated that he is “delighted to be working with Netflix again,” having already starred in The Two Popes. Pryce is well known for his time starring in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones and in Pirates of The Caribbean.
Prince Philip’s Relationship With Penny Knatchbull Will Be Introduced
Known to stir up the rumor mill, The Crown will use this season to introduce us to Penny Knatchbull, aka “the second-most important woman in the Duke of Edinburgh’s life.” Once called his “keeper of secrets,” Knatchbull was known for being a constant confidante for the late Prince Phillip. She remained a steady companion throughout his life and was even one of the 30 members to attend his funeral.
The Crown has spent the past four seasons detailing the marital turmoil between the queen and her husband, mostly due to the duke’s alleged wandering eye. And it seems they are not letting up in season five. Viewers will just have to wait and see where exactly they take this relationship. Taking on the role of Knatchbull will be Californication actress Natascha McElhone.
Lesley Manville Will Takeover for Helene Bonham Carter As Princess Margaret
The world has become enthralled by the glamorous yet dismal life of Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister, Princess Margaret. Originating the role was actress Vanessa Kirby, and it has since been taken under the wing of the legendary Helena Bonham Carter. For season five, the role is being passed on once again, and this time to English actress Lesley Manville.
“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 shared when announcing the role. “Furthermore,” she added, “To play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy.”
Actress Elizabeth Debicki Has Big Shoes to Fill
When Princess Diana entered the scene in season four of The Crown, all eyes were on actress Emma Corrin to see how she would live up to portraying such a beloved character. And Corrin did not disappoint. Viewers were taken aback not only by how well she resembled Lady Di but by the phenomenal character work that Corrin put forth.
Now, taking over this daunting task for season five will be Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki. By the looks of it, Debicki seems to have understood the assignment. “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,” the actress told the Mirror. “I’m overwhelmed, I’m terrified, and I’m excited. I can’t wait to start.”
Dominic West Was Not Always So Keen to Play Prince Charles
Prince Charles’ character in The Crown has not been portrayed in the best light so far. When following his relationship with Lady Di, many were introduced to his infidelities for the very first time. The Crown did not shy away from revealing aspects of his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. We can only expect them to continue diving into this topic leading to his split with Ladi Di.
Prince Charles will be portrayed by actor Dominic West, who initially turned down the role. West felt he looked nothing like the prince and was unsure if he could live up to the bar Josh O’Connor set in seasons three and four. Despite this hesitation, he decided to give it a go. “He’s a fascinating man, Charles, and it’s a fascinating life and a fascinating role. I mean, apart from anything else, it’s a huge show, and I loved the first four seasons. I realized that I could very happily live with this character for two years,” West shared.
Olivia Williams Looks Almost Identical to Camilla Parker Bowles
Sporting her signature blonde bob, actress Olivia Williams looks like a spitting image of Camilla Parker Bowles. Williams, who will be replacing Emerald Fennell in season five, definitely has her work cut out for her, as we expect much of this season to focus on the relationship between Bowles and Prince Charles.
As we now know, Prince Charles and Camilla ended up tying the knot in 2005, following the split between Charles and Diana. This only added to the speculation of their infidelities that The Crown had no issue shining a light on in season four. Funny enough, William’s actually had the opportunity to meet the duchess at the Man Booker Prize dinner back in 2017.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s Marriage Continues To Spiral
So what exactly can we expect to see in the fifth season of The Crown? One thing is for sure; the season will focus largely on the marital turmoil between Diana and Charles. We can expect this to lead up until their split, which was made official in 1996, just a year before Diana’s untimely death.
Prince William and Harry Make Onscreen Debut
This season we will see a lot more of Prince William and Harry. Among other things, Princess Diana was well known for remaining a down-to-earth mother to her two boys. She never let being a royal keep them from having somewhat normal childhoods, and Diana filled their lives with plenty of motherly love. To see this being played out on screen will be a joy for all those that grew up adoring Lady Di.
In true Crown fashion, the Princes will be portrayed by various young actors as the years go by throughout the season. While we have already seen the tension between Diana and Charles in earlier seasons, it will be interesting to see how they include their sons in this storyline.
Prince William Played By Dominic West’s Son
Although Dominic West was hesitant to take on the role of Prince Charles, when he decided he was up for the challenge, he also brought his son along for the ride. One of the actors set to play a young Prince William is Dominic West’s son, 13-year-old Senan West.
According to the West family, the up-and-coming star was not just handed the role. It was actually his agent who submitted the tape, which caught the eye of casting directors. This will be Senan’s first time on-screen, so the verdict is still up if he has followed in his father’s acting footsteps.
Emma Corrine Might Be Back by Popular Demand
Although the role of Diana will be passed to actress Elizabeth Debicki, it seems fans have not gotten enough of her predecessor, Emma Corrin, who captured the hearts of viewers in season four. Corrin did a phenomenal job portraying Diana, and she was even nominated for a Golden Globe. You can imagine why fans would be sad to see her go.
Creators of The Crown have spoken to this, saying they plan to include more of Corrin in several flashbacks throughout the upcoming season. When speaking to The Vulture about season five, the actress also had some words of advice for her successor; “Make it your own. Put blinkers on for the rest of the world and for the pressure. Grab onto things that resonate with you, that you relate to, or that you empathize with. And always trust the script. It won’t let you down.”
Diana Reclaims Her Narrative
It was during the early 90s that Diana began to come into her own, breaking royal protocol more and more and speaking out against the way she was treated by Prince Charles and his family. She even went as far as to publish a book that, per the synopsis, “undermines public support for Charles and exposes the cracks in the House of Windsor.” In 1992, Andrew Morton also published a book titled Diana: Her True Story—in Her Own Words.
While Diana refuted being a source for this book, Morton did later reveal that Diana did in fact have a hand in its creation. This was confirmed in 1997 when a revised version was released, including an 18,000-word transcript of recordings that Diana had made. Clearly, Lady Di had something to say. Given The Crown will be covering these years, we do expect them to include the backstory behind these two books.
The Legendary Revenge Dress
Who can forget Diana’s revenge dress? In 1994 during the filming of an ITN documentary, Prince Charles accidentally admitted that he had been unfaithful to Diana. When asked if he had stayed loyal to his wife, Charles replied, “Yes absolutely,” only to add, “until it became irretrievably broken down.” It was on that same day that Diana attended a gala in a gown that was so eye-catching and unlike anything she had ever worn before; it was from then on known as the “revenge dress.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Elizabeth Debicki revealed that season five will in fact include this iconic moment. “It provoked something in me as an actor,” Debicki said. “I can’t really explain it. It’s pretty incredible that a dress would represent a moment in history or that this human’s life would represent so much and become so iconic. So that was a big day on set for me!”
Diana’s Boyfriend, Dodi Fayed Will Enter The Scene
After her divorce from Prince Charles was finalized, Diana began dating film producer and Egyptian department store heir Dodi Fayed. Only a few months after they began dating, Fayed and Diana were both tragically killed in a car accident. Fayed, at the time, had the reputation of being somewhat of a playboy. Once the media found out that the two had been dating, it caused a paparazzi frenzy that has often been highlighted as the cause of their tragic accident.
While The Crown has not revealed if the accident itself will be included in season five, the fact that Fayed will make an appearance eludes to the season, including events leading up to their death. Playing the part of Fayed will be actor Khalid Abdalla. You might recognize Abdalla from the Golden Globe-nominated film Kite Runner.
Diana’s Last Mediterranean Vacation
This moment captured on the set of The Crown gives us another glimpse into what exactly will be included in season five. The photo shows Debicki wearing a close replica of the red dress Diana wore during a Mediterranean vacation with Harry and Andrew. While Diana did not know this then, this vacation would mark the last moments she shared with her children.
In 1997, Diana and her boys were invited to Mohamed Al Fayed’s St. Tropez villa. Al Fayed was the father of Dodi Fayed, the man Diana was romantically involved with at the time. Mohamed was a billionaire who owned the luxury London department store Harrods, as well as Fulham football club and the Ritz hotel in Paris.
Princess Anne Played By Claudia Harrison
Viewers of The Crown have already been introduced to Princess Anne, the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. In seasons three and four, Anne was played by actress Erin Doherty, whose portrayal of the royal acted as her breakout role. Now Doherty will be passing on the baton to actress Claudia Harrison.
“Anne’s an extraordinary character,” Harrison said. “She’s not there to make people feel better about themselves, but she is superb at her job and is a proper feminist. She’s someone we can really look up to and I think she has no sense of entitlement.”
Princess Anne Gets Divorced
As part of the Queen’s self-deemed “horrible year,” in April 1992, Princess Anne divorced her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips. The couple had been married for 18 years and shared two children, a daughter Zara and a son Peter. Just months following finalizing the divorce, Anne remarried Sir Timothy Laurence, a former equerry for the queen.
This would mark the third failed marriage for the royal family, following the Duke and Duchess of York’s separation just a month prior and Princess Margaret’s divorce back in 1978. As we now know, Princess Diana and Prince Charles would split soon after as well. According to the behind-the-scenes image seen here, The Crown definitely plans to play out the details behind Princess Anne’s divorce, which at the time was announced as a mutual decision.
John Major’s Tenure as the U.K.’s Prime Minister Begins
In addition to the royal family, The Crown has been known to follow the lives of all the Prime Minsters who have worked closely with the queen through the years. This season will follow the tenure of Prime Minister John Major. Major was Britain’s ninth prime minister, succeeding Margaret Thatcher, who was played by Gillian Anderson in season four.
Major was the first to take on the daunting task of Prime Minister as one who was younger than the queen. Taking on this role in season five will be actor Johny Lee Miller. Miller is well known for his role as Sick Boy in the film Trainspotting and his publicized marriage to Angelina Jolie, both of which occurred back in the late 90s when Major was in power.