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The Crown Season 5 - Everything You Need To Know

As most of the past few years have come to a close, watching a fictionalized account of another decade or so of British royal family history has become something of a tradition for fans of Netflix's "The Crown."

Season 4 of the acclaimed drama began with Great Britain getting its first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson), and ended with a Windsor family Christmas portrait that was smiles on the outside, and torment on the inside. After the season's conclusion, fans began another tradition: waiting for the next installment of the series. Season 5 officially dropped on November 9, coming shortly after the real-life death of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

"The Crown" was always meant to be a six-season affair (even though creator Peter Morgan briefly toyed with the idea of parring it down to five seasons). This means that the current season will be its penultimate, and fittingly, sees the royal family entering one of its darkest periods. Here's everything you need to know about Season 5 of "The Crown."

What is the plot of The Crown Season 5?

Contains spoilers for "The Crown" Season 5

The 1980s were a rocky period for Great Britain and the royal family, due largely to the controversial reign of Margaret Thatcher and friction in the marriage of Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin). And the 1990s and early 2000s weren't much better. 

In 1992, Elizabeth gave a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of her ascension to the throne, via Royal.uk, in which she referred to the time as "annus horribilis," or, "the horrible year." It was marked by the breakdown of the marriages of three of her children and a fire at Windsor Castle, among other unpleasantries (via Reuters). Things remained tense as the years rolled on. Charles and Diana eventually finalized their divorce in 1996. 

The period likewise saw the rise of two prime ministers: John Major, who unseated Thatcher, and Tony Blair, who saw the country enter the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Season 5 of "The Crown" touches on all of this and ends with the tease of Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla). Prince Charles' secret meetings about having his mother abdicate the throne also happen, with the Queen promising she will be England's monarch until her death.

Who is starring in The Crown Season 5

Way back when the first cast change-up for "The Crown" was announced, fans responded with a flurry of excitement. They were excited to see the ways that Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, and Helena Bonham Carter, among others, would build on the excellent work done by Claire Foy, Matt Smith, and Vanessa Kirby in the first two seasons. 

Oscar-nominated actress Imelda Staunton, best known to some as Dolores Umbridge in the "Harry Potter" films, took over the part of Queen Elizabeth II. Her husband, Prince Philip, is played by "Game of Thrones" and "The Two Popes" actor Jonathan Pryce. And stepping into the formidable shoes of Princess Margaret is Lesley Manville, who scored an Oscar nomination for her performance in 2017's "Phantom Thread."

"Tenet" and "Widows" star Elizabeth Debicki stuns as Princess Diana. Dominic West of "The Affair," meanwhile, stepped into the role of Prince Charles, while his real-life son will plays Prince William. Rounding out the cast are Jonny Lee Miller as Prime Minister John Major, Bertie Carvel as Prime Minister Tony Blair, Khalid Abdalla as Princess Diana's partner Dodi Fayed, Salim Daw as his father Mohamed Al-Fayed, Olivia Williams ("Rushmore") as Camilla Parker-Bowles, Charles' girlfriend from long ago-turned mistress-turned-second wife, and Claudia Harrison ("Humans") as Elizabeth's daughter, Princess Anne.

Where to watch previous seasons of The Crown

All five seasons of "The Crown" are available to stream on Netflix, which will also be the home of Season 6.

For the uninitiated, each season of "The Crown" covers a particular era in the history of the British royal family, with Queen Elizabeth II as its central character. Season 1 opens with Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy)'s wedding in 1947 and ends with Winston Churchill (John Lithgow)'s resignation from the post of Prime Minster in 1955. Season 2 spans 1956-1964, and includes events like the retirement of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (Anton Lesser) and the birth of Queen Elizabeth's first two sons. In Season 3 — which takes place from 1964 to 1977 and introduces Olivia Colman as the Queen — Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) visits the United States, and Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) meets his eventual wife, Camilla Shand (Emerald Fennell), among other events. Finally, Season 4 is set between 1979 and 1990, and includes moments like Charles' wedding to Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson)'s introduction as England's Prime Minster.

Those interested in catching up on this and plenty of other fictionalized accounts of real-life royal drama can do so on Netflix, where Season 5 will premiere on November 9, 2022. But that's only for subscribers of the full-priced, ad-free Netflix. Those who sign up for the ad-supported, $6.99 Netflix won't have access to several high-profile shows, including "The Crown."

What is The Crown Season 5 rated?

Netflix assigns a rating to a series as a whole, not a specific season. Therefore, Season 5 of "The Crown" falls under the TV-MA umbrella given to the show. According to Netflix, this rating is given due to language, nudity, sex, smoking, and violence. TV-MA means the program is unsuitable for those under 17, so we don't recommend letting children or young teens watch the series.

Each episode of "The Crown" will feature the TV-MA logo at the top left of the screen before the episode airs and will list the mature content themes featured in the episode. Not every episode of "The Crown" has nudity and violence, so those will be mentioned specifically before the episodes in which they occur. 

What are critics and audiences saying about The Crown Season 5?

Season 5 of "The Crown" currently boasts a 74% critic score and 87% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. This is the lowest critics' score a season of "The Crown" has ever had, as all previous seasons are certified fresh. Season 4 reigns supreme as the best with a 95% rating, followed in descending order by Season 3 (90%), Season 2 (89%), and Season 1 (88%). 

The most recent season is doing quite well on Netflix, with Variety reporting the newest installment has had 107 million hours viewed in the first five days. The outlet also said that "The Crown" is in the Top 10 across 88 countries and hit Number 1 at least once during its first five days in 37 countries — notably, the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, and France.

Will there be a Season 6 of The Crown?

Season 6 of "The Crown" is, in fact, a sure thing, and is in the midst of production. This shooting schedule increases the likelihood that Season 6 will premiere a year or so after the conclusion of Season 5, adhering to the same timeline as past seasons sharing an actor portraying the queen. What makes Season 6 different, of course, is that it's supposed to be the series' last.

Variety's report about the status of Season 6 also notes that the final season of "The Crown" already has two new cast members: Rufus Kampa, who will portray a young Prince Harry, and Ed McVey as the slightly older Prince William.

Season 6 will not, however, cover Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship with the royal family, in spite of its timeline most likely allowing for such a story. Showrunner Peter Morgan confirmed this point in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm much more comfortable writing about things that happened at least 20 years ago. I sort of have in my head a 20-year rule," he said, explaining that the fact he doesn't know how their story ends keeps him away from this and other such material.