Princess Diana Will Be the Focal Point in Season 5 of “The Crown”

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix
Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix

God save the queen—or The Crown, rather. Netflix’s hit drama about the British royal family will continue to rule, with the series returning for a fifth season in November. In 2020, showrunner Peter Morgan said they initially planned to end the series after season five, but that pretty soon it “became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story, we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons,” in a press statement, per The Wrap. In the same statement, Morgan shared that while the extra season does not “bring us any closer to present day” (sorry to fans hoping to see a fictionalized Harry and Meghan!), it will allow them to dive into the same time period in greater detail.

Naturally, The Crown has always hewed close to real life, with the series beginning in the early days of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and later delving into events like the death of Winston Churchill, her strained relationship with Margaret Thatcher, and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Season five will tackle the ’90s and feature a whole new star-studded cast. Here’s everything else we know about The Crown season five so far.

Season five of The Crown arrives in November 2022.

The Crown has always aired in the winter, and the fifth season will stream on Netflix in November 2022. The streaming giant hasn’t announced the exact date just yet, but if it follows the pattern of prior seasons, it’s likely to debut on the second or third Friday of the month. In case you were wondering, the two-year-long wait for season five is due to a filming break that was always part of The Crown’s schedule, which allowed them time to rest and get the final batch of actors ready for their roles.

What is The Crown season five about?

Each season of The Crown covers roughly a decade of the royal family. Season four ended with Elizabeth berating Charles about his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, forbidding him from going through with a divorce; Diana, meanwhile, was also found to be having an affair, and was similarly warned by Philip that she had to present a unified front with Charles. But we know that’s not what ends up happening, and season five is expected to explore the slow collapse of Charles and Diana’s marriage, which formally ended in 1996 after a four-year separation and was highly publicized.

Photo credit: Des Willie
Photo credit: Des Willie

The Independent reported that season five will also feature Diana’s controversial 1995 interview with Martin Bashir, where she spoke candidly about Charles’s affair and said that “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” Bashir was later found guilty of using fake documents to secure the interview, but said he is still “immensely proud” of the interview, and how it allowed Diana to finally speak out about the royal family.

It’s unclear if the season will depict Diana’s tragic death in a car crash on August 31, 1997. But it’s likely that the series will lead right up to that event, as Khalid Abdalla’s casting as Dodi confirms that we’ll see Dodi and Diana’s whirlwind relationship, which kicked off in the wake of Diana’s divorce, on-screen. The pair were together in Paris when Diana died.

Each season also tends to focus on Elizabeth’s relationship with the prime minister, and this season the leader will be John Major, who was in office from 1990 to 1997 and was succeeded by Tony Blair. Elizabeth also celebrated her 40th year on the throne in 1992, but she dubbed it her “annus horribilis” (horrible year) due to various marital upsets in the royal family, Windsor Castle catching on fire, and Charles and Diana announcing their separation.

Meet The Crown season five cast.

Staunton is taking over from Olivia Colman as the queen. “I have loved watching The Crown from the very start,” Staunton said in a statement when her role was first announced nearly three years ago. “As an actor, it was a joy to see how both Claire Foy and Olivia Colman brought something special and unique to Peter Morgan’s scripts. I am genuinely honoured to be joining such an exceptional creative team and to be taking The Crown to its conclusion.”

Welsh actor Sir Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Philip, taking over for Tobias Menzies. Known for Game of Thrones and The Two Popes, Pryce is a highly respected Hollywood and theater actor who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2021 for his dedication to the arts.

Phantom Thread actor Lesley Manville will portray Princess Margaret, following Helena Bonham Carter’s turn at the role. “I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret,” Manville said. “The baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses, and I really don’t want to let the side down. Furthermore, to play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy.”

The Wire actor Dominic West will play Prince Charles. And Elizabeth Debicki, known for roles in Tenet, Widows, and The Great Gatsby, will take over for Emma Corrin in the role of Diana, Princess of Wales. “Princess Diana’s spirit, her words and her actions live in the hearts of so many. It is my true privilege and honour to be joining this masterful series, which has had me absolutely hooked from episode one,” she said.

Also included in the cast are Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles; Jonny Lee Miller as Prime Minister John Major; Khalid Abdalla as Diana’s boyfriend Dodi Fayed; Salim Daw as Dodi’s father, Mohamed Al-Fayed; Humayun Saeed as Diana’s ex Hasnat Khan; Bertie Carvel as Prime Minister Tony Blair; and Lydia Leonard as his wife, Cherie.

How will The Crown season five portray Princess Diana?

Princess Diana is clearly going to be the focal point of season five, but there’s already been some behind-the-scenes drama regarding her portrayal. Per Vulture, Jemima Khan, a British television producer and a close friend of Diana, was asked to consult on the fifth season. Khan said she worked on the scripts with Morgan from September 2020 until February 2021 before choosing to walk away from the project. “It was really important to me that the final years of my friend’s life be portrayed accurately and with compassion, as has not always happened in the past,” Khan said. But “when our co-writing agreement was not honoured, and when I realized that particular storyline would not necessarily be told as respectfully or compassionately as I had hoped, I requested that all my contributions be removed from the series and I declined a credit,” she said.

The show has been accused of changing details or embellishing certain events in the past, so fans will just have to wait and see if The Crown does justice to Diana’s legacy.

Watch The Crown season five trailer.

Netflix has yet to release a trailer, but in September 2021 it did release a teaser video featuring Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge in The Harry Potter series), the third and final actor to portray Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown. “I’m delighted to be inheriting the role of Queen Elizabeth from two outstanding actresses,” she said, referring to predecessors Claire Foy and Olivia Colman. “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.”

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