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The Crown Season 5 Release Date, Cast, And Plot - What We Know So Far

Another year is coming to a close, which also means we've concluded the tradition of reliving a decade or so of the history of the British royal family, by watching the latest season 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. Now we begin another tradition: waiting for the next installment of the series.

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 upcoming fifth season is the penultimate, and fittingly, it will see the royal family entering one of its darkest periods. But what exactly does that mean for us watching at home? Thankfully, Netflix hasn't been too coy about details for the upcoming season. So, without further preamble, here's what we know so far about season 5 of The Crown.

There will be an extended break before the release of The Crown season 5

Every two years, The Crown switches up its central cast to reflect its aging characters. In the past, that changing of the guards has also come with an extended two-year break between seasons. Now that the Olivia Colman era has come to a close, the show will once again take a little extra time away before it returns.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, filming for season 5 is scheduled to begin in 2021, and the series is planning a 2022 premiere date for its new installment. Considering every season so far has premiered in November or early December, we'd say it's extremely likely that means season 5 of The Crown will be releasing sometime in late 2022.

While that feels like an excruciating wait, it won't be without reward. When the show does finally come back, it will do so with a brand new cast of acclaimed actors ready to try their hands at bringing the royal family to life.

We already know some of the cast members for season 5 of The Crown

Way back when the first cast change up for The Crown was announced, there was a flurry of excitement. Fans were excited to see the way 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. In January, Netflix confirmed some of the new actors who will be taking on some of the principal roles for season 5, and once again, it was cause for celebration.

Oscar-nominated actress Imelda Staunton, best known to some as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films, will be taking over the part of Queen Elizabeth. Her husband, Prince Philip, will be 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 recently scored an Oscar nomination for her performance in 2017's Phantom Thread.

They will be joined by Tenet and Widows star Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana. Although they have yet to be confirmed, there are also reports that Dominic West of The Affair will be stepping into the role of Prince Charles (via TV Line).

What historic events will The Crown's fifth season cover?

The 1980s were a rocky period for Great Britain and the royal family, thanks to the controversial reign of Margaret Thatcher and the 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. While Netflix hasn't confirmed the exact plot details, there are a few events that seem likely to be covered in season 5 of The Crown. Spoilers, for history, to follow.

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 finalized their divorce in 1996. Just one year later, Diana was tragically killed in a car crash in Paris, and five after that, both Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother also passed away.

The period also saw the rise of two prime ministers, John Major, who unseated Thatcher, and Tony Blair, who saw the country enter the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Crown likes to mix in the politics of the nation with the personal lives of the royals, so it's likely that both men will play some sort of part in the show.

Whatever events the show chooses to focus on, after four excellent installments, one thing feels certain: fans of The Crown are in for another gripping season when the series returns for season 5 in 2022.