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The Crown season 5: first photos, Prince Charles and everything we know

Imelda Staunton in The Crown season 5.
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Crown season 5, like previous seasons, will adapts real-world events through the prism of prestige drama – but it doesn't have a release date yet. Filming is happening right now, with Netflix now having released our first look at Charles and Diana in the show, played by Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki. 

The Crown seasons 1-4 has covered years and years of history at a time, and proved to be an education for those who aren't familiar with the ups and downs of the Royal Family. 

Season 4 took us up to 1990, while season 5 will take us deeper into the decade. The Crown season 5 will give viewers another cast shake-up as we leap through time once more for the show's final couple of seasons, and Netflix has finally started talking about who's being added for this next run. The show's most recent development is West's casting, which we'll discuss below.

Spoilers follow, as we go in-depth with everything we know about The Crown season 5 so far.

Release date: The Crown season 5 is filming now, so we'd expect to see the show return at some point in 2022.

Story: With The Crown season 4 ending in Christmas 1990, expect this next season to explore the end of Charles and Diana's marriage, John Major's time as Prime Minister, and the Queen's annus horribilis in 1992.

Cast: Imelda Staunton will take on the role of Queen Elizabeth II, with Jonathan Pryce playing Prince Philip, Elizabeth Debicki cast as Princess Diana, Lesley Manville taking on the role of Princess Margaret and Jonny Lee Miller playing John Major. In August 2021, Dominic West was added to the cast as Prince Charles, after a long period of rumors.

The future: The Crown has already been renewed for a sixth and final season, which is apparently set to cover up until the early 2000s.

The Crown

A new cast is on the way for The Crown season 5. (Image credit: Mark Mainz)

The Crown season 5 release date

The Crown season 5 release date: 2022

There will be a longer wait than usual for season 5 of The Crown. Deadline reported back in July 2020 that filming wouldn’t start until June 2021, with the series set to hit Netflix in 2022. The break in production is actually not down to the ongoing pandemic – the show had planned to take a gap year long before COVID presented the world of TV and film with numerous challenges. 

The same report says season 6 is set to film in 2022, so the gap between the next two seasons should be slightly shorter. 

Filming has indeed begun on season 5, according to reports, and the fact that we've now had our first look at Staunton as the Queen.

The Crown season 5 cast

The Crown season 5 cast: out with the young  

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  • Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II
  • Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret
  • Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
  • Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana
  • Dominic West as Prince Charles
  • Jonny Lee Miller as John Major
  • And many more to be confirmed

The fifth season of The Crown will undergo another sizeable cast shake-up, as our ageing royal family enters the 1990s – The Crown season 4 ended in late 1990, as we'll discuss further down. 

We’ll be waving farewell to Olivia Colman and welcoming Imelda Staunton to take on the role of Queen Elizabeth II. You may recognize Staunton from her role as the abominable Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter. Similarly, Tobias Menzies will be stepping aside to allow fellow Game of Thrones co-star Jonathan Pryce to take over as Prince Philip. 

Additionally, we’ll see Phantom Thread’s Lesley Manville assume the role of Princess Margaret, and Elizabeth Debicki, who you may know from Christopher Nolan's Tenet, will play the slightly older version of Princess Diana. After a 2020 report suggested Dominic West was joining the cast as Prince Charles, Netflix finally confirmed he was part of the show in August 2021.

While the main cast changes have been confirmed, we are yet to find out who will fill the shoes of some of the key supporting cast. The roles of the Queen’s children, Anne, Edward and Andrew, are still unconfirmed, as are Camilla Parker Bowles and the Queen Mother.

Season 4 also ended with the resignation of Thatcher, which means we’ll see a new Prime Minister enter the fray. Season 5 will follow the tenure of John Major, and we’ll likely also get a short burst of Tony Blair, who was in office during Diana’s death. 

In June 2021, Netflix finally added another cast member to the list: Jonny Lee Miller as John Major. That likely means we're not too far off learning who the rest of the cast is going to be, especially if filming is happening now.

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The Crown season 4 recap

The Crown season 4 recap: where did it begin and end?

The Crown season 4 picked up in 1977, but the first episode honed in on 1979 with the election of Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson). It also showcased the murder of Lord Mountbatten (Charles Dance), claimed by the IRA, which served as the show's entry point into focusing on the ongoing Troubles in Northern Ireland. We also started to see the show come into what might be termed recent history, with focuses on working class struggles, the dissolution of Apartheid, and Diana’s influence on the public.

The Queen (Olivia Colman) also took an early shining to Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) as Charles’ (Josh O'Connor) perfect, prospective bride. After passing ‘The Balmoral Test’ with flying colors, the royal family pressured Charles into marrying Diana. 

The Queen’s relationship with Thatcher also began on kind grounds, but slowly neutralized over the course of the season as ol’ Maggie’s rule got more and more ruthless. The pair’s personal relationship soured, but ends in a dignified fashion with mutual respect shown for the traits they have in common.

Season 4 also did a fantastic job of making each and every cast member pretty unlikeable. The substantial age gap between Charles and Diana makes for a turbulent dynamic – Charles’ petulant reactions to Diana’s personal struggles paired with his unwillingness to let go of Camilla (Emerald Fennell) makes him hard to watch in season 4.

Throughout the season, the Queen observed Thatcher’s weakness when it came to her children, particularly her son Mark who she cited as her favorite. Upon learning this, The Queen sets off on a personal journey to reconnect with her own children, and discovers that they all carry their own indiscretions, emotional baggage and personal struggles. 

The Crown season 4 wrapped up in 1990 with the resignation of an unpopular Thatcher and a particularly frosty Christmas at Balmoral Castle. During the festivities, both The Queen and Prince Philip tire of Charles and Diana’s marriage complaints. While the Queen simply and coldly urged Charles to focus on his royal duty, Philip turned a darker corner, with a quiet warning of the consequences Diana will face if her marriage fails.

Hey, maybe that's why some critics want to see a pre-show disclaimer reminding people that The Crown is a fictional drama, and not a documentary (something Netflix has confirmed it has no plans to do).

The Crown season 5 plot

The Crown season 5 plot: what will happen next?  

The Crown season 5

 Season 4 suggests the departure of Anderson’s Thatcher.  (Image credit: Des Willie)

With Thatcher gone and Charles and Diana’s unhappy union in full swing, we’ll be sailing full speed ahead into the 1990s. It has also been confirmed that there will be a sixth and final season of The Crown, set to conclude in the early 2000s. Showrunner Peter Morgan has said that "season six will not bring us any closer to present day – it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail."

The season doesn’t have an official plotline yet, but we can take a swing at what might happen in season 5 based on real-life royal events, with an additional season taken into account.

1992 was a particularly rough year for the Windsor clan. It saw the breakdown of not one, but two royal marriages – Prince Andrew’s separation from Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Anne’s official divorce from long-term husband Captain Mark Phillips. Prince Andrew’s wedding featured briefly in The Crown season 4, and we get a glimpse into Anne’s spousal struggles too, which suggests they may have a more pivotal role in season 5.

Of course, we’re in for a further ride with Charles and Diana’s relationship, and that was not shy on scandal. In June 1992, author Andrew Morton released ‘Diana: Her True Story’, a bestselling autobiographical book that detailed Diana’s struggles and the turbulence of her marriage, with her own personal input. The book was published while she was still married to Charles. As you can imagine, it didn’t go down too well with the rest of the family, so we suspect it might crop up in the next season.

The Crown season 5

(Image credit: Des Willie)

And to top off that year, we may see a fiery, fictionalized spectacle based on the 1992 Windsor Castle fire. The real fire burned for around 15 hours and caused six minor injuries to staff – and a great big castle fire is a good old excuse for some top-notch TV drama, isn’t it?

All in all, the Queen dubbed 1992 her "annus horribilis" in a famous speech. That's bound to be great material for the writers of Netflix's hit series. 

We’ve also got scope for a number of scandals inside the British Government in the 1990s. Notably, we have John Major’s 1993 ‘Back To Basics’ campaign, designed to promote traditional familial values, but ultimately fell into ruin following a number of scandals inside the Conservative Party. 

The Arms to Iraq affair that coursed through the 1990s may also make for juicy plot developments in The Crown, as government-approved sales of weapons to Iraq made John Major quite unpopular in the run up to Tony Blair’s winning election in 1997.

Finally, the core of The Crown season 5 will undoubtedly be the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage, until their divorce in 1996, and Diana’s tragic death in 1997. We all know that there’ll be ample room for tension and drama there, and lots of us remember the impact that Diana’s death left on the world. 

What remains to be seen is how true to real life The Crown will remain, and how much justice it serves Diana in her final moments. With season 6 on the cards, it is also unclear as to whether season 5 will even get to Diana’s death. It may serve as a dramatic season finale, or simply be left for the final series.

Still, we won’t be seeing any of that until 2022 at the earliest. In the meantime, maybe it's worth binging a few documentaries about the royal family and reminding yourself about what truly happened.