Often, when an actor is replaced mid-series, it’s cause for uproar (see: the chaos surrounding the recent announcement that Liam Hemsworth will replace Henry Cavill in upcoming seasons of The Witcher). But that’s just an occupational hazard for all who sign on to The Crown: Thanks to its aim of exploring the first half-century of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the showrunners have made a habit of completely swapping out the cast every two seasons for a more realistic portrayal of the passage of time.
With season 5 of The Crown debuting on Netflix this week, it’s due for another of those switch-ups. The latest set of actors to inhabit the royal family and their many hangers-on will be the last—minus those in two very important roles—since Netflix has confirmed that the series will come to a close after its sixth season. So, without any further ado, scroll on to meet the stars tasked with bringing The Crown to its final crescendo.
Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II
Stepping into the late monarch’s sensible pumps after Claire Foy and Olivia Colman’s respective Emmy-winning turns in the role—but no pressure or anything!—is Imelda Staunton, who will portray Queen Elizabeth from the late 1980s through the early 2000s.
Probably most recognizable as Professor Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies, the British actress has joined more than 100 productions across film, TV and theater since the early ‘80s; her recent credits include the Maleficent, Paddington and Downton Abbey movies and the Apple TV+ series Trying. Fun fact: Staunton already has ties to another Netflix period drama, since she's the mother of Bessie Carter, who plays Prudence Featherington on Bridgerton.
Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip
Across from Staunton, playing the duke of Edinburgh in his 70s and 80s, will be Jonathan Pryce. The 75-year-old Welsh actor was knighted by Queen Elizabeth herself last year, thanks to his illustrious 50-year career. Highlights of that tenure include Tony-winning turns in Comedians and Miss Saigon, and an Oscar-nominated role as one of the titular pontiffs—Pope Francis, to be exact—in The Two Popes. On the small screen, he’s appeared in Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall and BBC’s Taboo, among many others.
Dominic West as Prince Charles
In a curious case of art imitating art, The Affair star Dominic West is once again stepping into the shoes of a man in the midst of a not-so-secret extramarital relationship. He’ll play the now-king through the end of his tumultuous marriage to Princess Diana and the first few years of his public debut with longtime lover Camilla Parker Bowles. Besides The Affair, West has had a long and varied career, popping up in hits from Chicago to The Wire to Downton Abbey: A New Era, with a small cameo in Spice World along the way.
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana
The people’s princess is a relatively new addition to The Crown: She first appeared just last season, but quickly earned Emma Corrin a Golden Globe award and Emmy nomination for the role. Taking over for Corrin as Lady Di—with quite the growth spurt—is six-foot-three Elizabeth Debicki, an Australian actress who you may remember from The Great Gatsby, Tenet and the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel.
Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret has always been a close runner-up to Princess Diana as The Crown’s most tragic character. Next to take on the role of the free-spirited woman who ended up smothered by the shadow of her older sister is Lesley Manville. The English actress’ onscreen credits date back to 1974; in the decades since, she’s racked up long-running roles in Harlots, Love Life, Mum and the British soap opera Emmerdale Farm. Her role in 2017’s Phantom Thread as the sister of a fastidious fashion designer earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Senan West as Prince William
Here’s where that exception to the “last cast” of The Crown comes in. Because kids and teenagers age much more visibly than their parents, Princes William and Harry will be played by different actors in the fifth and sixth seasons of the show. And though Harry appears only sparingly in season five, William is more visible, since the episodes’ timespan includes his 1995 enrollment at Eton College.
In those scenes, 13-year-old Wills is played by Senan West—fittingly, the real-life son of his onscreen father, Dominic West, who called acting across from his son a “very moving” experience during a recent press conference. The role is the younger West’s first, since his dad noted that “COVID put a stop to all of his school plays.”
Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles
Rounding out the most infamous love triangle of the ‘90s will be Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles, the woman Princess Diana once referred to as the “third person” in her marriage. Williams has appeared in dozens of acclaimed films, including The Sixth Sense, An Education, Anna Karenina and The Father, and even had a two-episode arc as Felicity on Friends.
Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne
The Crown has never devoted much time to Queen Elizabeth’s children beyond her eldest, Prince Charles. But Princess Anne scores some screen time in the fifth season to show her first marriage—in tandem with those of two of her brothers, Princes Charles and Andrew—drawing to a close in the early ‘90s. The queen’s only daughter is portrayed in her 40s by Claudia Harrison, a British actress whose credits include Humans, The IT Crowd, Murphy’s Law and more.
Humayun Saeed as Hasnat Khan
The first new character on our cast list, Hasnat Khan is the Pakistan-born heart surgeon who dated Diana for two years in the mid-1990s, up until just a few weeks before her death. Playing the princess’ “soulmate” is Humayun Saeed, who has gained major fame in Pakistan for more than two decades’ worth of movie and TV roles there, including a star turn in the blockbuster film Jawani Phir Nahi Ani and its 2018 sequel. He received the Pride of Performance award from the nation’s president last year.
Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed
The Netflix series is creeping ever closer to 1997 and Princess Diana’s tragic death, meaning it’s time to introduce Dodi Fayed, the Egypt-born movie producer who had a short fling with the princess and died alongside her in the August 1997 car crash. He’s played onscreen by Khalid Abdalla, an Egyptian-British actor who has starred in films like United 93 and The Kite Runner, and recently joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a role in Moon Knight.
Salim Daw as Mohamed Fayed
Playing matchmaker between Dodi and Diana was the former’s father, Mohamed Fayed, who is the focus of an entire episode of this season of The Crown. That episode tracks Fayed’s life from his youth in Egypt—when he’s played by Amir El-Masry—to his adulthood as a billionaire businessman based in London. In the latter years, he’s played by Salim Daw, an Israeli actor whose filmography dates back to 1982 and includes series like Fauda and Tyrant.
Natascha McElhone as Penelope Knatchbull
Another new addition to the lineup who will surely be familiar to longtime royal watchers is Penny Knatchbull, who struck up a close friendship with Prince Philip in the early 1990s that would last until his death last year—despite their 30-year age difference. The Countess Mountbatten of Burma is played by Natascha McElhone, who can also be seen in The Truman Show, Californication, Designated Survivor and Hulu’s The First.
Jonny Lee Miller as John Major and Bertie Carvel as Tony Blair
A lasting hallmark throughout The Crown is its exploration of Queen Elizabeth’s relationships with the rotating roster of prime ministers who led the U.K. while she was on the throne. That’s still the case in season five, which shows the monarch interacting with two PMs: John Major, who was in power from 1990 to 1997, and Tony Blair, who held the office for a decade beginning in May 1997.
Major is played by Jonny Lee Miller, well known for his roles in Trainspotting and its sequel, Mansfield Park, The Flying Scotsman and CBS’ Elementary—as well as for his three-year marriage to Angelina Jolie in the ‘90s. Blair, meanwhile, is played in the final episode of season five by Bertie Carvel, who is perhaps most famous for his stage roles, including a Tony- and Olivier Award-winning role as Rupert Murdoch in Ink.
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Andrea Park is a Chicago-based writer and reporter with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the extended Kardashian-Jenner kingdom, early 2000s rom-coms and celebrity book club selections. She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2017 and has also written for W, Brides, Glamour, Women's Health, People and more.
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