he fifth series of The Crown won’t land on our screens until November, but the latest casting news has us feeling very excited indeed for the next installment of Netflix’s royal saga.
This week it was announced that Emily in Paris actress Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu will join the season five cast of The Crown. She will make the switch from Sylvie Grateau (undoubtedly the best character in Emily in Paris) to Monique Ritz, widow of hotelier Charles Ritz.
It’s a small role, but an important one: after her husband’s death, Monique Ritz sold the Ritz hotel in Paris to Dodi Fayed, who briefly dated Princess Diana shortly before her death.
As the Netflix series changes cast every two seasons (to avoid performers donning distracting prosthetics to play their characters into old age), there are plenty of new faces joining the show for round five. Here’s your cheat sheet.
Queen Elizabeth II – Imelda Staunton
Our reigning monarch probably doesn’t need too much of an introduction. In season 5 she will be played by Imelda Staunton, who many will recognize as Harry Potter’s terrifying teacher Dolores Umbridge. She’ll be replacing Olivia Colman – yes, we’re sad about that too – but we anticipate that Staunton will do a great job.
In season four, the Queen chose to spend time with her corgis over Princess Diana at Sandringham and couldn’t understand her son Prince Charles wanting to separate from Diana, viewing his behavior as selfish.
With the early- to mid-Nineties being such a tumultuous period in history – including ‘Black Wednesday’, the handover of Hong Kong and the Gulf War – we have a feeling that the Queen is going to once again desperately and dutifully try to steer the royal ship forwards.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – Jonathan Pryce
Standing by her side, as always, is Prince Philip. This season he is played by Jonathan Pryce who is replacing Tobias Menzies. In season four we saw a slightly softer side of the Duke as he talked to Diana about joining the ice-cold family, and how, as an outsider, he could empathize with her situation. However, that’s about as sweet as it got.
At the end of the day, Philip is a die-hard believer in duty as the Queen’s dedicated royal consort. When Diana suggested a separation from Charles he became steely and withdrawn – divorce is not the done thing. We don’t see any further conciliatory chats happening between the two in season 5, particularly as there’s only two years left before Diana and Charles publicly announce their separation.
Princess Margaret – Lesley Manville
Princess Margaret will be played by English actress Lesley Manville, who is replacing Helena Bonham Carter. Yes, another change-over we’re gutted about, but Manville has a great track record. Think Phantom Thread, Mum, Let Him Go and Cranford – we’re excited to see her take up this role.
In season four, the Queen’s only sibling Princess Margaret continued to struggle with her role and purpose in the royal family – though she sought out more work from her sister, the coming of age of her youngest nephew Prince Edward only sidelined her further. She battled with her mental health and began therapy. Let’s hope season five sees Prince Margaret get on her feet again.
John Major – Jonny Lee Miller
John Major, the Conservative Prime Minister who took over from Thatcher in 1990, is going to be played by Jonny Lee Miller, known for roles in Trainspotting, Emma and Elementary.
We all thoroughly enjoyed Gillian Anderson’s Margaret Thatcher, and her Iron Lady will be much missed. So what do we expect from the replacement? Well in history, Major has garnered a reputation for being a less bombastic, more consensus-oriented leader than Thatcher. He’ll face an extended economic recession (1990-1993), and an increasingly unpopular party, even as the economy starts to recover.
He’s known for being a bit bland, which Miller is not – making for an interesting casting.
Prince Charles – Dominic West
If you found season four excruciatingly painful because of the relationship between Diana and Charles, in season five this is only predicted to ramp up. There are years to go until the public announcement of their split, and the situation is already incredibly dire.
For those who are new to the famous triangle – and apologies, but where have you been? – Prince Charles loves Camilla Parker Bowles, Diana knows, and no one’s happy.
In 1993, the details of an explicit 1989 phone call between Charles and Camilla were published by the tabloids. In 1995, Camilla and her husband announced their divorce, the same year that Diana gave her famous Panorama interview with Martin Bashir. In 1996 Diana and Charles were finally legally separated. Just about a year later, Diana died in a car crash.
We’re not sure how far into the Nineties the series will go, or how many of these details it will cover, but it’s bound to be a difficult watch. Dominic West will replace Josh O’Connor as the Prince.
Diana, Princess of Wales – Elizabeth Debicki
Elizabeth Debicki will replace Emma Corrin as Princess Diana and we’re looking forward to this evolution. Even though we know the awful end of this sad tale, there should be some triumphant moments for Diana in season five.
In the Eighties she was too young and naive to push back against the royal family, but in the Nineties she came into her own. These were the years of the Revenge Dress, her relationships with Dodi Fayed and Dr Hasnat Khan, the infamous Martin Bashir interview, and her semi-retirement from public life.
They were also sorrowful times – her close friend Adrian Ward-Jackson died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991 and her father John Spencer died of a heart attack in 1992.
Camilla Parker Bowles – Olivia Williams
Camilla, played by Olivia Williams, is going to be central to the drama that escalates between Charles and Diana. In season four Camilla (then played by Emerald Fennell) realized that popular opinion will always be with Diana, so that she will always be “defeated” publicly by the Princess. We know how the story goes, but we’re still on tenterhooks.
Princess Anne – Claudia Harrison
Princess Anne – the Queen’s only daughter – is played by Claudia Harrison, taking over the role from Erin Doherty. She previously played roles in Humans and The IT Crowd.
In season four, while the focus was on Diana, Anne remained a reliable and necessary part of the family puzzle. She is direct, has a sense of humour, and provides much needed balance and restraint given the chaos and distress of other parts of the story.
Prince Andrew – James Murray
No-one needs an update on the Prince Andrew story. But he is in the show, played by English actor James Murray, who takes over from Tom Byrne.
Dodi Fayed – Khalid Abdalla
Egyptian-British actor Khalid Abdalla will play Diana’s lover, a film producer and the son of billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed. He died aged 42 in the 1997 car crash in Paris that also took Diana’s life.
Mohamed Al-Fayed – Salim Daw
The father of Dodi and the owner at the time of Harrods and the Ritz Paris will be played by Arab-Israeli actor Salim Daw.
Tony Blair – Bertie Carvel
The Labor Prime Minister who won a landslide election in 1997, taking over from John Major, will be played by British actor Bertie Carvel.
As we’re not sure how far into the Nineties this series will stretch, we can’t tell how much of Blair’s premiership we will see. But the 1997 general election win marked the first time that Labor was in power since 1980, a huge change for the country.
Martin Bashir – Prasanna Puwanarajah
Prasanna Puwanarajah will play Bashir – the now-disgraced interviewer who conducted the infamous 1995 Panorama interview with Diana.
Dr Hasnat Khan – Humayun Saeed
The British-Pakistani surgeon who was Diana’s lover between 1995 to 1997 will be played by Humayun Saeed.
Monique Ritz – Philippine Leroy Beaulieu
Emily in Paris actress Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu will join season five’s cast. She is best known for playing Sylvie Grateau, the boss of Emily at her fictional Paris marketing firm.
She will play Monique Ritz, the widow of hotelier Charles Ritz. Princess Diana was staying at a suite in Paris at The Ritz when she died, so we wonder if this casting is indicative of the season making it to this dreadful denouement.
The Crown series 5 will arrive on Netflix later this year. Series 1-4 are available to stream now.