What We Know So Far

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What We Know So Far

The Crown Season Four curtain closes on a Britain in which Margaret Thatcher is struggling against growing threats to her power and Charles and Diana‘s marriage continues to unravel publicly. It was the end to a batch of episodes, richer with gripping interpersonal and emotional drama than some of its more politically-focused predecessors, that proved well worth the year-long wait fans endured. Unfortunately, that break may pale in comparison to how long we twiddle our thumbs until Season Five of the acclaimed Netflix series, which will follow the royal family into the late 1990s and early 2000s, arrives.

Here’s everything we know about the upcoming season so far.

Who is in the cast for Season 5?

It feels like just yesterday we had to give a little royal wave goodbye to Claire Foy as the Queen in The Crown, but just like that, the sun has set on Olivia Coleman’s take on the role. At the close of Season Four, Coleman passes Queen Elizabeth’s crown to Imelda Staunton for the final two seasons of Netflix’s beloved historical drama. And now, Netflix has revealed a first look at Staunton in the role, looking like a dead ringer for the monarch.

Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II.


But with a new era of The Crown comes a new batch of hurdles. “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,” Staunton explained. “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.”

So far, also joining the cast is Elizabeth Debecki as Princess Diana, Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret, Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, and Dominic West as Prince Charles. Oddly enough, it sounds like there will be two Dianas moving forward. Debicki will step into the role for seasons five and six, but because of Emma Corrin’s massive popularity, it is rumored that she will be returning for flashbacks. (Turns out all Dianas are popular.)

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While the show had initially declared that Season Five would be its last, creator Peter Morgan announced in July that the final cast would get two seasons, just like the previous casts. As he told Deadline: “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. 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.”

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When will Season 5 be released?

Season Five is expected to begin filming in 2021, but won’t air on Netflix until 2022. We would have had to wait this long with or without the pandemic, though. “It’s a normal schedule for us because what happens is, as you’ve noticed, we filmed The Crown in two-season chunks, so we had Claire Foy for two seasons, we’ve now got Olivia Colman for two seasons,” said Peter Morgan. “And there was a gap year in there in which I frantically do a draft of all the scripts, and then I rewrite the scripts and polish the scripts after that—but at least we have a roadmap of where we’re going for the two seasons. And I said that there was no way that I could possibly do that and be showrunning the seasons if they were in production. You do need a gap year to get ahead with the writing.”

What will Season 5 cover?

Season Five is expected to cover the Queen’s “annus horribilis” year in 1992, when the royal family faced numerous scandals, including the separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, the report of an affair between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, the publication of topless sunbathing photos of Duchess Sarah Ferguson, and a catastrophic fire at Windsor Castle. The season will also touch on Princess Diana’s bombshell BBC Panorama interview, which has come back into the news this year, following recent revelations about reporter Martin Bashir’s deceptions.

Seasons Five and Six will follow the Royal drama from the 1990s to the early 2000s. This is a period that spans the ruin of three of Elizabeth’s children’s marriages—Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, and Prince Charles all got divorced in this stretch of time. It will also arrive at Princess Diana’s tragic 1997 death in a Paris car crash, and possibly the 2002 death of Princess Margaret, as well. The series will not, however, arrive anywhere near present day or cover any recent news such as Prince Andrew’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle giving up their royal titles. As creator Peter Morgan told the Hollywood Reporter:

“I’m much more comfortable writing about things that happened at least 20 years ago. I sort of have in my head a 20-year rule. That is enough time and enough distance to really understand something, to understand its role, to understand its position, to understand its relevance. Often things that appear absolutely wildly important today are instantly forgotten, and other things have a habit of sticking around and proving to be historically very relevant and long-lasting. I don’t know where in the scheme of things Prince Andrew or indeed Meghan Markle or Harry will ever appear. We won’t know, and you need time to stop something being journalistic. And so I don’t want to write about them because to write about them would instantly make it journalistic. And there are plenty of journalists already writing about them. To be a dramatist, I think you need perspective and you need to also allow for the opportunity for metaphor.”

And now, back to aimlessly scrolling Netflix until 2022.

Lauren Kranc is an editorial assistant at Esquire, where she covers pop culture and television, with entirely too narrow of an expertise on Netflix dating shows.

Assistant Editor
Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.

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