Everything We Know About 'The Crown' Season 5

There's more Diana, more Charles, a new cast, and lots of royal drama to look forward to next season.

the crown, elizabeth debicki as princess diana
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana | Keith Bernstein/Netflix
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana | Keith Bernstein/Netflix

Season 4 of The Crown ends abruptly. During a Christmas celebration, the whole royal brood poses for a Christmas portrait. The camera zooms in on the face of Emma Corrin's Diana, who stands, heartbroken, furious, and isolated from her husband, Prince Charles, tears welling in her eyes. Sure enough, there's a lot more Diana to come when the Netflix series about the inner lives of the members of the British monarchy returns for a Season 5. However, there will be some major changes as well: It's time for a cast changeover. Let's break down what's to come. 

What is the release date for The Crown Season 5?

As of mid-August, the return date is still unclear, but if the show maintains its current shooting schedule, then November 2021 is a possibility. With coronavirus, however, it's hard to tell whether it will finish on time or be derailed by on-set infections.

Who's in The Crown Season 5 cast?

Say goodbye to Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth and say hello to Imelda Staunton. Staunton, the revered actress best known to millennials as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies, is taking over the role of the sovereign. Jonathan Pryce, late of The Two Popes, will play her husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The great Lesley Manville, Mike Leigh muse and Phantom Thread insult-slinger, will play Elizabeth's sister, Margaret. James Murray (6 Underground) will take over the role of Prince Andrew.

With the Margaret Thatcher era and Gillian Anderson's excellent portrayal of the Iron Lady in the rear view, we're fully into the 1990s. That means John Major is now prime minister, and Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Hackers, Elementary) will be tasked with the role. Andrew Scott, aka Fleabag's Hot Priest, is reportedly playing Major's successor, Tony Blair.

Who will play Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and Camilla Parker Bowles in Season 5?

The towering Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki (Tenet, Widows) is taking over for Emma Corrin as Diana. The Wire and The Affair's Dominic West will play Charles. (Yes, a man who was on The Affair and recently entangled in a very public real-life affair, will be portraying Charles. Incredible.) Newly minted Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) will not return as Charles' paramour and eventual second wife, Camilla. Never fear, Olivia Williams (Rushmore, The Father) is here.

Are there any photos?

Yes, Netflix has released the first looks at West, Debicki, and Staunton in their new roles.

What is The Crown Season 5 going to cover?

Given that final shot of Season 4, there's bound to be a lot of time spent on Diana drama, specifically her and Charles' acrimonious divorce. It's unclear whether it will cover her tragic death in August 1997 or whether Morgan will save that for the show's sixth and final season. (As a writer, he has covered that territory before with The Queen.) The political side of things may hold some hints, at least in terms of the years covered: Margaret Thatcher gives way to John Major (Jonny Lee Miller), another conservative, whose 1990-'97 tenure in office covered a recession and a cease-fire in Northern Ireland. Of course, Major is nowhere near as interesting a figure as his successor, Tony Blair (Andrew Scott), but how much of Blair we'll get remains to be revealed. Note that the fateful year of 1997 is when both Blair became prime minister (in May) and Diana died tragically (in August).

Will there be a Season 6 of The Crown?

Yes. After initially saying he was going to cut his original six-season plan short, Morgan reneged on that and said that he is going to do a sixth season after all. However, that doesn't mean that the show is going to tackle, say, Meghan Markle's marriage to Prince Harry. Per Deadline, the series will only go up until the early 2000s. So get ready for Tony Blair's cronyism with George W. Bush and the Iraq War, but not Brexit, although Season 6 could conceivably include Princess Margaret's 2002 death and the early days of Prince William and Kate Middleton's relationship (beginning circa 2003), or even nod toward future events by inserting Boris Johnson, Jeffrey Epstein, and Ghislane Maxwell into the narrative at chronologically relevant moments in the final stretch.

Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.