Like what happened between seasons two and three, all major roles will be taken over by new actors. Some characters have been bumped up to become more significant, while others due to their age at the time covered, have been somewhat relegated away from the major plot points of the show.
As The Crown careers into 1992, which Queen Elizabeth dubbed the “annus horribilis” of the Royal family’s history, the family is falling apart at the seams – whether it be from numerous divorces, to scandals and even a palace fire.
There’s a lot of ground to cover, and it’s been confirmed Princess Diana’s death won’t be shown until season six, meaning season five will roughly cover five years.
So ahead of The Crown’s return, here’s the who’s who of the beloved Royal drama, and what to expect from them going forward.
Queen Elizabeth II – Imelda Staunton
Previously played by: Claire Foy (seasons one and two) and Olivia Colman (seasons three and four)
Imelda Staunton was the first major role change to be announced following the end of season four, and at the start of production in September 2021, the actor gave her first “Royal address” during a TUDUM event.
In the speech, she acknowledged those who had played Queen Elizabeth on The Crown before her, and vowed to ‘do her duty’ as best she could.
She said: “I’m delighted to be here, inheriting the role of Queen Elizabeth from two outstanding actresses. I will do my utmost to maintain the very high standard that they set.
“Hopefully I look calm, collected and capable… my stomach meanwhile, is doing somersaults.”
Prince Charles – Dominic West
Previously played by: Josh O’Connor (seasons three and four)
West has actually confirmed he initially turned down the role of Prince Charles in The Crown when offered it, telling producers “you’ve got the wrong guy” and believing he didn’t look enough like the now-reigning monarch.
“I’d been watching the show, I’d been a fan from the start,” West told Entertainment Weekly. “I was very conscious of Josh [O’Connor]’s amazing performance, and his amazing success, and thought it was a bit of a hiding to nothing to try to follow that.”
However, he changed his mind when he “couldn’t get the idea out of his head”.
“[I] realised that you’ve got to give it a go because you’ll regret it if you don’t,” he said. “He’s a fascinating man, Charles, and it’s a fascinating life, and a fascinating role.”
Princess Diana – Elizabeth Debicki
Previously played by: Emma Corrin (season four)
Before landing the role of Diana, Debicki had actually previously auditioned for a ‘small cameo role’ in season two of The Crown.
While she didn’t get that particular part, she was remembered when the time came for casting the ill-fated princess.
“This was so many years ago that I sort of put it on the shelf,” she told Entertainment Weekly.
“I didn’t put any eggs in the basket — well, maybe there was one egg in the basket.
“Then, years later, it came back around. When Peter [Morgan, showrunner] actually asked me, I didn’t have to give it much thought.”
Camilla Parker-Bowles – Olivia Williams
Previously played by: Emerald Fennell (seasons three and four)
Camilla Parker-Bowles’ long-held relationship with Prince Charles continues in season five.
During an interview with Martin Bashir, Princess Diana claimed there were “three people in her marriage”, confirming her knowledge of his affair with Camilla.
Season five will cover how Camilla and Charles moved forward with their relationship following the exposure of not just their affair, but also of intimate details of their romance becoming public knowledge when their phones were tapped.
This ultimately led to the infamous “tampongate” scandal, where during a private conversation Charles joked about hiding away and turning into a pair of Camilla’s knickers, before adding: “Or God forbid, a Tampax, just my luck.”
Williams hopes her portrayal will put Charles and Camilla in a more sympathetic light, sharing their love story rather than the scandal.
“One of the great things about The Crown is: We get to see those sorts of imagined intimate moments, which maybe give us a better perspective on someone that we’ve judged,” she told Netflix.
“Charles and Camilla seem to have a very healthy sense of humor about what at times must be an unbearable predicament. And that is the thing that I most want to show.”
Prince Philip – Jonathan Pryce
Previously played by: Matt Smith (seasons one and two) and Tobias Menzies (seasons three and four)
Jonathan Pryce will be the final incarnation of The Crown’s version of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Initial official photos confirm the season will focus on his close relationship with Penny Knatchbull (played by Natascha McElhone), and may speculate on rumours the pair had an affair.
Despite their 30-year age gap, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma developed a close friendship with the Prince in the early 1990s, particularly following the death of her five-year-old daughter, Leonra, from cancer in 1991.
Coming so soon after Queen Elizabeth’s death in September 2022, associates of the Royals have dubbed the inclusion as “in poor taste”.
Dickie Arbiter, the Queen’s former press secretary, told The Sun: “Coming just weeks after the nation laid Her Majesty to rest next to Prince Philip, this is very distasteful, and quite frankly, cruel rubbish.
“The truth is that Penny was a long-time friend of the whole family. Netflix are not interested in people’s feelings.”
Princess Margaret – Lesley Manville
Previously played by: Vanessa Kirby (seasons one and two) and Helena Bonham-Carter (seasons three and four)
Lesley Manville had known for two years before starting filming that she would be taking on the role of Queen Elizabeth’s beloved sister, who was often the centre of attention at a party.
But despite Princess Margaret’s reputation, and the four seasons of stories The Crown had recreated, Manville decided to go her own way when it came to her portrayal.
“I had a lot of documentaries to watch, pictures, loads to read, but finally the scripts arrived, and that’s it,” she told Netflix’s TUDUM.
“All the books I read have different people’s versions of events. So you’ve got to let it go in and just sink in, but then you almost forget about it because finally the scripts come and that’s what you work with.”
Margaret would have issues with ill health in the later years of her life, ending up in hospital in 1993 with pneumonia, followed by a number of strokes. She died February 18th, 2002, from a stroke that led to further heart complications.
Princess Anne – Claudia Harrison
Previously played by: Erin Doherty (seasons three and four)
Princess Anne, aka The Princess Royal, remains as stoic as ever in the new seasons, despite the collapse of her near 20-year marriage to Mark Phillips in 1992.
She will be played by Claudia Harrison, whose previous credits include Murphy’s Law, The IT Crowd, Humans and Delicious.
Harrison also works as an associate teacher at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) and has previously starred in blockbusters including 2005’s Archangel alongside Daniel Craig.
Speaking of her role as Anne, Harrison told Netflix’s TUDUM: “Anne’s an extraordinary character. 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.”
John Major – Jonny Lee Miller
John Major is a new player in The Crown, with the Tory party leader acting as Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997. He replaced Margaret Thatcher (played by Gillian Anderson) who was ousted from her position in 1990.
The real former PM has not taken the portrayal too kindly, amid reports season five will feature scenes in which the character is seen in secret talks with Charles about the concept of replacing Queen Elizabeth on the throne.
He called the scenes “a barrel load of malicious nonsense” according to the Daily Mail, with calls for the show to be boycotted.
David Mellor, who served in Government while Major was leading, called the episode ‘bunkum’ and added: “To conspire with the heir to the throne to try to force a monarch he had sworn to serve to stand down is simply not something [Major] would ever have contemplated. No one in their right mind would have suggested it and no one as sensible as Charles would ever have imagined that this was possible or desirable.”
Netflix has defended the series as a work of fiction, and the production responded: “The Crown has always been presented as a drama based on historical events.
“Series five is a fictional dramatisation, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the royal family – one that has already been scrutinised and well-documented by journalists, biographers and historians.”
The Crown season 5 launches 9 November on Netflix.
WATCH: The Crown season 5 trailer