TV Guide

Every Question You Have About The Crown Season 5, Answered

Vogue rounds up the need-to-know details about the fifth season of The Crown.
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In a nutshell:

The next instalment of Netflix’s big-budget, awards-laden original series is expected to cover the divorce of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as the latter’s tragic death in 1997.

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Who will play the Queen in ‘The Crown’ season 5?

Imelda Staunton – best known for playing Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter series as well as her Oscar-nominated role in Vera Drake – will succeed Olivia Colman for season five. “I have loved watching The Crown from the very start,” Staunton said in a statement when her role was announced. “As an actor it was a joy to see how both Claire Foy and Olivia Colman brought something special and unique to [series creator] Peter Morgan’s scripts. I am genuinely honoured to be joining such an exceptional creative team and to be taking The Crown to its conclusion.” On 30 July 2021, Netflix released a first image of Staunton in character, in an understated pussy-bow blouse and a string of pearls. The simple caption? “An early glimpse of our new Queen Elizabeth II, Imelda Staunton.”

Read more: Lady Whistledown Formally Confirms ‘Bridgerton’ Season 2

Who else will be in ‘The Crown’ season 5?

Elizabeth Debicki – who has had starring roles in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Steve McQueen’s Widows and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet – will take over the role of Diana, Princess of Wales from Emma Corrin in season five of The Crown. “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 absolutely hooked from episode one,” the Australian actress said of the news in a post on The Crown’s Twitter page. Meanwhile, Dominic West will step into the role of Prince Charles, taking over from Josh O’Connor. On 17 August 2021, Netflix released a first look of the two in character, and the stills are truly uncanny.


Additionally, Lesley Manville will appear as Princess Margaret – following Helena Bonham Carter and Vanessa Kirby’s turns as George VI’s younger daughter. “I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret,” Manville shared via Netflix. “The baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses and I really don’t want to let the side down. Furthermore to play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy.” Manville is perhaps best known for her Oscar- and BAFTA-nominated turn opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in 2018’s Phantom Thread.


As for Prince Philip, Games of Thrones’s High Sparrow Jonathan Pryce will be The Crown’s final Duke of Edinburgh. The 74-year-old Welsh actor earned his first nod for Best Actor at the 2020 Academy Awards for his role in Netflix’s The Two Popes. “The positive experience I had making The Two Popes has given me the confidence to tackle the daunting prospect of playing Prince Philip,” Pryce said of the news. Pryce has formerly starred as royal protagonists in a number of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies – including an Olivier Award-winning turn as Hamlet on Broadway. 

Rounding out the cast alongside him? Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles; Jonny Lee Miller as John Major; Khalid Abdalla as Diana’s boyfriend Dodi Fayed; Salim Daw as his father, Mohamed Al-Fayed; Humayun Saeed as Hasnat Khan, Diana’s partner before Fayed; and Bertie Carvel and Lydia Leonard as Tony and Cherie Blair.

Will Prince William and Prince Harry appear in ‘The Crown’ season 5?

Yes, both Princes will appear, with Senan West – Dominic West’s son – due to play a teenage William in the fifth series, according to Variety. William and Harry were 15- and 12-years-old, respectively, when their mother died in 1997. While Harry largely remained sheltered from the press at his school, Ludgrove, William reportedly struggled with the coverage of Diana’s sensational Panorama interview – not to mention the tabloid obsession with her romantic life – while at Eton. It remains to be seen whether Peter Morgan will highlight the strain that Diana’s relationship with the media placed on her relationship with her older son.

What time period will be covered in ‘The Crown’ season 5?

To date, each instalment of The Crown has spanned approximately a decade. With that in mind, season five could begin in the early ’90s and end in the early Noughties. Morgan alluded to the time period in a statement, saying that Staunton would be “taking The Crown into the 21st century”.

The decade in question was particularly tumultuous for the Queen, with plenty of incidents that are ripe for dramatisation. In 1992, she made a speech on the 40th anniversary of her accession in which she described that year as her “annus horribilis”. It saw the breakdown of three of her children’s marriages: the separation of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in March; Princess Anne’s divorce from Mark Phillips was finalised in April; and Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s separation was announced in December. It was also marked by a fire at Windsor Castle, which eventually led to the Queen paying tax on her income and opening Buckingham Palace to the public to help fund the restoration.

On 26 October 2021, it was reported that Princess Diana’s infamous Panorama interview from November 1995 could be the focus of an entire episode in season five. In the almost-hour-long programme, she told the BBC’s Martin Bashir about her relationship with Prince Charles and her belief that “there were three of us in this marriage”. Netflix has yet to confirm the news. There has been renewed interest around the interview in recent months following the revelation that Bashir forged documents to gain the trust of Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, to persuade him to introduce him to Diana.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s eventual divorce in 1996, and the latter’s tragic death in a car crash in 1997, are likely to feature in the fifth season. Morgan will be treading familiar ground, having written the screenplay for 2006’s The Queen, which starred Helen Mirren as the monarch struggling to deal with public grief in the wake of the accident. Other notable events include the Queen’s golden wedding anniversary in 1997, the deaths of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother in 2002, and the 2002 Golden Jubilee. Another storyline royal fans are hoping for? Prince William’s first encounter with Kate Middleton, which occurred in 2001 while the pair were studying at the University of St Andrews.

What’s the controversy around Diana’s plotline in ‘The Crown’ season 5?

On 6 November 2021, Jemima Khan – a close friend of Diana’s – announced that she had cut ties with The Crown after deciding that Netflix had failed to handle Diana’s storyline “as respectfully and compassionately as I had hoped”. Khan claimed that she had agreed to support Peter Morgan with the writing of scripts because “it was really important to me that the final years of my friend’s life be portrayed accurately and with compassion, as has not always happened in the past”, but has since “requested that all my contributions be removed from the series and I declined a [writing] credit”, according to The Sunday Times.

Netflix, in turn, issued a statement that read: “Jemima Khan has been a friend, fan and a vocal public supporter of The Crown since season one… She has been part of a wide network of well-informed and varied sources who have provided extensive background information to our writers and research team – providing context for the drama that is The Crown. She has never been contracted as a writer on the series.”

The fourth season of the Emmy-winning hit portrayed Diana largely as a victim, highlighting her sense of alienation within the royal family along with her struggles with bulimia. The next instalment, however, will likely be more contentious – picking up in the early ’90s, where Diana and Charles faced off against each other via the press. In 1992, the late Princess broke with tradition spectacularly by collaborating with Andrew Morton on an autobiography detailing the failure of her marriage (although she denied her involvement upon publication). In December of that year, John Major announced the Wales’s formal separation in the House of Commons – the first step in a divorce that would only end in 1996.

According to The Sunday Times, Khan and Morgan had workshopped scripts that touched on Diana’s relationship with Harrods heir Dodi Fayed, her controversial 1995 appearance on Panorama, and her relationship with Hasnat Khan. Hasnat, a heart surgeon, is a distant cousin of Jemima’s ex-husband, former professional cricketer and Pakistan’s current prime minister Imran Khan. While dating Hasnat, Diana visited the Khans in Lahore on much-photographed trips.

What will the costumes in ‘The Crown’ season 5 look like?

Emmy-winning costume designer Amy Roberts, who has outfitted the cast since season three, has returned for the latest instalment. Photos from the set show Debicki as Diana, wading in the sea in a green swimsuit and white shorts, waving from a yacht wearing a power-shouldered floral dress and walking through the Spanish countryside in a khaki-coloured two piece. As in previous seasons, many of the looks are inspired by Diana’s original outfits rather than exact replicas.

When will ‘The Crown’ season 5 be released?

On 25 September 2021, Netflix announced that season five will arrive in November 2022. It also released a video of Imelda Staunton on the set of the show, sitting at a desk with portraits of Claire Foy and Olivia Colman in character as Queen Elizabeth II behind her. “I’m delighted to be inheriting the role of Queen Elizabeth from two outstanding actresses,” she says. “Hopefully I look calm, collected and capable. My stomach, meanwhile, is doing somersaults.”    

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Will there be a season 6 of ‘The Crown’?

Yes, while Morgan previously announced that season five would be the last instalment of The Crown, he later changed his mind – confirming that The Crown season six would go ahead. “As we started to discuss the storylines for series five, 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,” Morgan said. Fans of the show are certainly not complaining.

How should I entertain myself before ‘The Crown’ season 5 premieres?

As mentioned above, 2006’s The Queen covers similar ground to the next instalment of The Crown, and also happens to be written by the Netflix hit’s creator. Sixteen years on, it remains one of Helen Mirren’s most formidable performances. Pablo Larraín’s Spencer, on the other hand, sees Kristen Stewart step into the role of Princess Diana at the point when she finally decided to leave her crumbling marriage to Prince Charles – a major focus of the plot in the fifth season. In terms of royal biographies, Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth: The Queen remains the definitive volume on the many ups and downs of Elizabeth II’s reign (including her annus horribilis), while Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles traces the late Princess’s life from Althorp to that fateful night at the Ritz in Paris, celebrating her many achievements without verging on hagiography.