The royal family has been entrenched in drama and controversy of late.
Prince Andrew's "ill-judged association" with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell continues to make headlines, and Prince Harry and Meghan's decision to take a step back from their senior royal duties and relocate to the US saddened royal fans.
While fans of The Crown had hoped the series would run until the present day, creator Peter Morgan has confirmed that the series will now end with season six, taking the royal family into the early 2000s.
In January this year, Morgan had said that season five would be the final chapter of his royal drama.
"At the outset I had imagined The Crown running for six seasons but now that we have begun work on the stories for season five it has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop," Morgan told the Hollywood Reporter. "I'm grateful to Netflix and Sony for supporting me in this decision."
Come July this year however, the writer's initial plan of running the series for six seasons was reinstated.
"As we started to discuss the storylines for series five, it soon 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," Morgan explained, along with official confirmation from Netflix.
News from the palace: we can confirm there will be a sixth (and final) season of @TheCrownNetflix, in addition to the previously announced five!— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) July 9, 2020
Cindy Holland, Netflix's VP of original content added: "The Crown keeps raising the bar with each new season. We can't wait for audiences to see the upcoming fourth season, and we're proud to support Peter's vision and the phenomenal cast and crew for a sixth and final season."
Here's what we know so far about season five and season six:
Imelda Staunton will play The Queen
Imelda Staunton will take over from Oscar-winner Olivia Colman for season five and six. The BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated actress - who starred in 2019's Downton Abbey - said of her casting: "I have loved watching The Crown from the very start.
"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."
Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth and final season of The Crown. pic.twitter.com/hUOob58A9p— The Crown (@TheCrownNetflix) January 31, 2020
Staunton won a BAFTA for her role in Vera Drake, and is also known for Shakespeare in Love and playing Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter franchise.
Lesley Manville will play Princess Margaret
Lesley Manville, previously Oscar-nominated for her role in The Phantom Thread, will replace Helen Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret for the two final series of the show. "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," she said.
"I am genuinely honoured to be joining such an exceptional creative team and to be taking The Crown to its conclusion."
Lesley Manville will play Princess Margaret in the fifth season of The Crown. pic.twitter.com/R5aZEBOW0t— The Crown (@TheCrownNetflix) July 2, 2020
Manville is also known for her roles in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake - alongside Imelda Staunton - and Another Year, as well as leading BBC2 comedy drama Mum.
Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Philip
Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Philip, taking over from fellow Game of Thrones star Tobias Menzies.
The Welsh 73-year-old, Oscar-nominated last year for The Two Popes, is also known for his role as High Sparrow in GoT, playing a Bond villain in Tomorrow Never Dies, and starring opposite Glenn Close in 2017's The Wife.
Elizabeth Debicki will play Princess Diana
The Night Manager's Elizabeth Debicki has been cast as the late Princess Diana, replacing Emma Corrin. The 30-year-old actress is also known for her roles in The Great Gatsby and The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
Elizabeth Debicki will play Princess Diana in the final two seasons of The Crown (Seasons 5 and 6). pic.twitter.com/Z3CjHuJ56B— The Crown (@TheCrownNetflix) August 16, 2020
"Princess Diana's spirit, her words and her actions live in the hearts of so many," Debicki said in a statement. "It is my true privilege and honour to be joining this masterful series, which has had me absolutely hooked from episode one."
Gillian Anderson will play Margaret Thatcher
Series five will see the former Prime Minister introduced into the show, played by acting heavyweight Gillian Anderson. She gained international fame for her role as Dana Scully in long-running series The X Files, and is also known for starring alongside Jamie Dornan in The Fall, and, more recently, for hit Netflix series Sex Education.
It was announced that Anderson would take on the role of Thatcher in September last year, confirming months of speculation.
"I am so excited to be joining the cast and crew of The Crown and to have the opportunity to portray such a complicated and controversial woman," Anderson said at the time.
It has not yet been confirmed who will play the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Prince Andrew or Sarah Ferguson.
What storylines will feature in seasons five and six?
Season four is expected to cover the royal family from 1977 to 1990, featuring Margaret Thatcher's reign as Prime Minister - including her resignation and John Major's succession - and Thatcher's fractious relationship with the Queen and blossoming friendship with Princess Margaret.
Tensions worsened between Thatcher and Her Majesty when Thatcher led the country into the Falklands War, generating conflict within the Commonwealth.
It will also focus on senior royal family members being preoccupied with safeguarding the line of succession by securing an appropriate bride for Prince Charles. The narrative will then explore Prince Charles and Princess Diana's courtship and tumultuous marriage.
Season five picks up from 1990 - the beginning of a very dark decade for the royal family - and is expected to explore the year of '92, which Her Majesty has previously decried as her "annus horribilis".
During a speech in November 1992 to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession, the Queen said: "1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis."
In '92, Charles and Diana separated, which was followed by Diana's sensational portrayal in Andrew Morton's biography Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words. The book detailed the late princess' battle with bulimia and depression, and Prince Charles' betrayal with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Also that year, the Princess Royal, the Queen's only daughter, divorced Captain Mark Phillips (father to Peter and Zara) after he fathered a daughter during an affair in 1985. Princess Anne went on to marry Commander Timothy Laurence that same year.
Sarah, the Duchess of York, freshly separated from Prince Andrew, appeared splashed across the tabloids topless while having her toes sucked by her 'financial advisor' John Bryan, a Texan billionaire.
To cap off a string of disastrous events, a fire broke out in Windsor Castle which caused severe damage to the Queen's residence.
How the timeline of season five and six will be split has yet to be confirmed. It's expected that one of the series will include Prince Charles and Diana's divorce in 1996, the Queen's response to the devastating Dunblane massacre that year, and the backlash Prince Philip caused after he publicly objected to a new law banning most handguns in the wake of the shooting at Dunblane primary school, which resulted in the murder of 16 school children and their teacher.
The events surrounding Princess Diana's tragic death aged 36 in a car crash in Paris in 1997 will also feature in The Crown's final seasons. The late princess was with her partner Dodi Fayed, an Egyptian film producer and the son of billionaire Mohamed El Fayed, who also died in the crash.
Diana's death provoked widespread public mourning, and on 6 September, one million people lined the streets of London for her funeral.
Other historical events likely to be included are President Nelson Mandela's state visit to the UK, and Tony Blair coming into power in 1997.
As the final season will encapsulate the early 2000s, season six could see the Queen break protocol to respond to terror attack 9/11. On 13 September, 2001, Her Majesty authorised the American anthem The Star Spangled Banner to play during Buckingham Palace's Changing of the Guard.
It's speculated that The Crown's sixth season will also depict the deaths of Princess Margaret, who died in February 2002 of a stroke aged 72, and the Queen Mother a month later in March of pneumonia aged 101.
When will season five and season six air?
When season four has wrapped, The Crown will take a break in filming as the changeover between the cast takes place, Deadline reports.
The filming break has always been part of the show's production schedule - there was a similar pause between season two and three, which were separated by a two-year gap as Claire Foy was replaced by Olivia Colman.
Season five won't start filming until June 2021, and the sixth and final season will begin production in 2022.
A source told Deadline that production has been far from straightforward due to its ambition, mix of studio and set-piece location shoots. With that in mind, it's likely that season five will arrive in 2022, and season 6 will follow in 2023.
We're just not sure if we can wait that long...
The Crown season 4 will launch on Netflix on 15 November.
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