Netflix’s The Crown is gearing up for its final two seasons, and they’re putting together a terrific cast. Like with Season 3, Season 5 will recast the series for the later years of Queen Elizabeth II. Imelda Staunton will replace Olivia Colman as The Queen, Lesley Manville will step in for Princess Margaret, and Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Phillip. Now Netflix has announced that Elizabeth Debicki will play Princess Diana for Seasons 5 and 6 of the series.
Diana looms large in the British consciousness, and she represents the culmination of the series’ look at the intersection of the public and personal lives of the Royal Family (if The Crown were governed by ratings and it was a smash hit, you can easily envision a scenario where they take on the recent drama involving Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). The central tension of the series is Elizabeth suppressing her own desires and the desires of her family to uphold The Crown because The Crown has to be impersonal. It has to be a symbol, but people can’t be symbols. This inherent conflict that comes to the fore when Prince Charles weds Diana, a beloved public symbol who has an uneasy relationship with the Royal Family, but cheats on her with Camilla Parker Bowles, therefore putting his personal desires ahead of the stable family The Crown seeks to represent.
Since Peter Morgan is the showrunner of The Crown, I’m inclined to believe that he’s going to end the series with Diana’s death since her death provides the impetus for his 2006 biographical drama The Queen, so he’d be covering material he already did before.
As for the casting, I’m a big Debicki fan, and it’s clear that when you cast an actress of her caliber, you’re going to give Diana a major role (compared to Season 4 where they’ve cast relative unknown Emma Corrin). I’m also curious what this means for who they plan to cast as Prince Charles and Camilla.
Production on Season 5 of The Crown likely won’t even begin until 2021 at the earliest, but Season 4 of The Crown will likely premiere sometime this fall. Debicki will next be seen in a few weeks in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.