From the cast to the timeline, here's everything ET knows about the newest season of the Netflix historical drama.
With season 5 of The Crown debuting Nov. 9 on Netflix, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the latest installment of the Emmy-winning historical drama about the royal family. In addition to a new cast of stars taking over as key characters -- prepare to say goodbye to Olivia Colman and hello to Imelda Staunton -- creator Peter Morgan's series has garnered headlines for Elizabeth Debicki's stunning transformation into Princess Diana and faced down controversies, such as a call for a fictional disclaimer added to the episodes. From the cast to the timeline, here is everything ET knows about season 5 of The Crown on Netflix:
Per tradition of the series, The Crown recasts the lead roles every two seasons, meaning that following seasons 3 and 4 a whole new cast takes over. Seasons 5 and 6, the latter of which will be its last, sees Staunton taking over for Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, Jonathan Pryce following Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, Lesley Manville stepping in for Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, Debicki playing Princess Diana after Emma Corrin originated the role in season 4, and Dominic West replacing Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles.
Other major roles include Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne, who was first originated on screen by Erin Doherty. Olivia Williams joins as Camilla Parker Bowles, following Emerald Fennell's take on Charles' second wife in the previous seasons. After a young Prince William and Prince Harry briefly appeared in season 4, Dominic's son, Senan West, takes over as a teenaged William in the latter half of the new season.
Some of the most coveted non-royal parts are the new prime ministers -- John Major and Tony Blair -- to immediately follow Margaret Thatcher (played by Gillian Anderson in season 4). Jonny Lee Miller joins the series as Major while Bertie Carvel takes on the latter. Blair, meanwhile, was notably played by Michael Sheen twice in Morgan’s other films, The Deal and The Queen, which starred Helen Mirren in the titular role in the aftermath of Diana’s death.
Other family outsiders featured in season 5 are Salim Daw as Mohamed Al-Fayed and Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed with Prasanna Puwanarajah as BBC journalist Martin Bashir, Timothy Dalton as Peter Townsend and Humayun Saeed as Dr. Hasnat Khan.
Timeline and Trailer
Typically, each season covers roughly a decade of time. The Crown season 4, which introduced Princess Diana to the story, ran from 1979 to 1990, with season 5 picks up shortly after. In fact, the new episodes will span from 1990 to the summer of 1997, just before Diana's death.
According to Netflix, during this time, Queen Elizabeth II is approaching the 40th anniversary of her accession, with her Ruby Jubilee in 1992. During that time, there were significant changes made around the world and at home as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transfer of sovereignty in Hong Kong signaled seismic shifts in the international order and the advent of the 24/7 news cycle increased the focus on the royal family.
As the monarchy tried to adapt to a new, modern era, Charles and Diana's separation took center stage, even as Charles' own siblings -- Anne and Prince Andrew -- faced marital problems of their own. With scandals spilling over into the spotlight, Diana decided to take control over her own narrative with a controversial book, a widely seen television interview and, yes, that "revenge dress" while Charles faced embarrassment over the leak of his private phone call with Camilla.
Adding to the tension the impending divorce between Charles and Diana is the arrival of the Fayeds, who find themselves orbiting the family as their notoriety and success rises. Even Prince Philip can't escape the scrutiny surrounding his friendship with Penny Knatchbull.
"In the ‘90s everything had started to be filmed and also it was the birth of the 24-hour news cycle, so there's just this incredible amount of content that we have access to," Debicki said of this time period, adding "that's the amazing thing about playing these people at this time, because in the journey of The Crown so far out of all the seasons, this is the most visual content we have of the royal family.”
Filming and Controversy
In March 2020, when ET spoke with Staunton about season 5, the series had only just finished production on season 4 before “the world has gone upside down.” Since then, Netflix revealed that the new installment will premiere in November 2022 (just in time for Thanksgiving).
While the series was able to film the rest of seasons 5 and 6 without much issue, the production did pause out of respect to the queen's death in September 2022. During that time, they took also suspended filming during her funeral. "Everyone was extremely sad and I know I was very inconsolable that evening. My reaction surprised me. Of course, I would feel something. But having lived with her very closely for two years, it felt strange," Staunton revealed to ET.
"Like I say, the production did stop and then at the schedule we were on, I was off for 10 days. And I was very grateful for that time off to sort of settle back down," she continued. "I feel for the crew who had been working on it from day 1. I think there was a great sense of sadness, no doubt."
Leading up to the premiere, the series also faced increased cries for a disclaimer to be added to the new episodes. Among them was Judi Dench, who published an open letter in The Times, advocating that it is made clear the series is a "fictionalized drama" and not an accurate account of what has gone on behind closed doors when it comes to depicting the family's private life.
While the series did add a disclaimer to the trailer, Pryce revealed that he found it all "a bit unnecessary." When asked by ET's Kevin Frazier about what he thought of these public demands, he said, "In some ways you can applaud their passion and their interest in The Crown, that they want the story told as honestly as possible. And that's great. But I think, you know, it's a bit unnecessary now we're into the fifth season."
"If people don't know it's a fiction by now, then that's sad," the actor continued. "I don't think there's anything to be lost by putting a disclaimer in front of it either. But I don't think it's necessary. I mean, you can think of all sorts of examples of other things that you might have to put a disclaimer in front of."
The Crown seasons 1-5 are now streaming on Netflix.