We’re about a year out from The Crown’s fifth season, and anticipation is high to say the least. Netflix’s acclaimed drama about the British royal family has been a hit with both critics and fans since it premiered in 2016. But following a blockbuster fourth season that introduced Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) into the mix, interest in the Emmy-winning series seems to have grown exponentially—as has the deluge of Diana content. Season 5, which will chronicle some of the most explosive years in the history of the monarchy, promises to be even more addictive. Here’s what we know about the upcoming season so far.
If you know The Crown, you know that creator, writer and executive producer Peter Morgan has taken the novel approach of recasting the series every two seasons, aging the characters up as time passes. Season 5 will introduce the third iteration of the cast. Academy Award nominee Imelda Staunton takes over the role of Queen Elizabeth II, previously played by Claire Foy and Olivia Colman. Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki join the cast as Prince Charles and Princess Diana respectively. Jonathan Pryce will take on the role of Prince Philip, while Lesley Manville has the unenviable task of playing Princess Margaret after scene-stealing turns by Vanessa Kirby and Helena Bonham Carter. Emerald Fennell hands off the role of Camilla Parker Bowles to Olivia Williams and Jonny Lee Miller joins the series as Prime Minister John Major. Most recently, it was announced that Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner) had been cast as Dodi Fayed.
We don’t know precisely when the new season will drop, but during Netflix’s recent all-day fan event Tudum, Staunton announced that The Crown will return in November 2022. Are you counting down the days yet?
Each season of The Crown covers roughly a decade in the lives of the royals. Though there has been no official confirmation, with Season 4 having ended during the Christmas holidays of 1990, Season 5 is expected to cover that tumultuous decade. The series also tends to focus each season on the tenure of one Prime Minister. Major (Miller) was in office from 1990–1997, a period that saw the end of Princess Anne’s marriage, Fergie and Prince Andrew’s tabloid divorce and the disintegration of the Wales’s marriage.
It’s been reported that the new season will depict the circumstances surrounding Diana’s infamous TV interview with Martin Bashir, which we now know was secured through less than scrupulous means. Reports suggest that The Crown won’t shy away from Bashir’s campaign to “groom” Diana for the interview. And Debicki was recently photographed on set wearing the iconic Christina Stambolian “revenge dress,” which she famously wore to an event at the Serpentine Gallery the same night that a documentary on Prince Charles aired in an effort to one-up her estranged husband.
Major’s time as Prime Minister also points to what seems like the inevitable climax of the season: Diana’s tragic death in 1997. With Abdalla confirmed as Dodi Fayed, it’s all but guaranteed that the season will cover Charles and Diana’s divorce, which was finalized in 1996. Diana reportedly began her whirlwind relationship with Fayed in the summer of 1997. In August of that year, the couple were killed in a car crash in Paris. Still, there’s no word yet on whether the crash itself will be depicted on the show.
It should probably come as no surprise that the process of turning this particularly controversial period in British history into a television drama has sparked some controversy of its own. Over the weekend, UK paper the Sunday Times reported that producer Jemima Khan, a friend of Diana’s who was once married to a distant cousin of the Princess’s boyfriend Hasnat Khan, had pulled out of Season 5. She reportedly worked with Morgan (with whom she was briefly romantically linked) on storylines involving Diana’s relationship with Hasnat Khan and Dodi Fayed. But, as she told the Sunday Times, she ended the collaboration early this year when she felt that her agreement with Morgan was not being honored and that aspects of the Diana’s story were not being told as “respectfully or compassionately” as she had hoped.
A spokesperson for the series described Khan as “part of a wide network of well-informed and varied sources who have provided extensive background information” for The Crown’s writers, but denied that she has ever been a writer on the series herself.