The Crown no longer holds the record as the most ambitious series a streaming service has ever greenlit (that title has been taken by Max's declared ten-season sight-unseen Potter series). However, it remains one of the pinnacles of Netflix's early ambitions. Six seasons, three casts, and one still-ruling royal family. The passing of the central monarch, Elizabeth II, just before Season 5's arrival does not diminish the show's scope or aims; one might argue the transfer of power from Elizabeth to Charles made its first draft of the Second Elizabethan Age right on time. With one season to go, the series is rumored to be adding a tribute to her late majesty, featuring all three actors who played her.
Since the show's first casting overhaul between Seasons 2 and 3, it has found ways to bring back the actors from the first cast, most notably Claire Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth in her earliest years on the English throne. Instead of flashing back to scenes from the first two seasons with new actor Olivia Colman in the role or using footage from previous episodes, Foy returned to film new ones, a side benefit of the recasting as the monarch aged. Season 5, which introduced the third and final cast, also brought back Foy for flashbacks of the character now played by Imelda Staunton, though not Colman.
However, this being the show's final season, it seemed a reasonable expectation the series might find a way to work in all three actors in some fashion. According to The Sun (which, while not right on everything, does seem to have an inside track for this production), not only will the show do that, it will be as a deliberate tribute to Elizabeth and even add an extra actor to the group for good measure.
For its final season, The Crown will add Viola Prettejohn (The Nevers) as Princess Elizabeth in a flashback set before the show's first season. It will not be the first time the show has flashed back to Elizabeth's earliest years; in Seasons 1 and 3, viewers saw scenes of Princess Elizabeth around 12, when she first became the crown princess and heir presumptive, played by Verity Russell. However, Prettejohn will fill in the space between Russell and Foy's Elizabeths, portraying the future monarch as a teen during the final years of World War II.
The four Elizabeths (Prettejohn, Foy, Colman, and Staunton) will join the rest of the returning cast from Season 5. That includes Jonathan Pryce as Philip, Lesley Manville as Margaret, Dominic West as Charles, and Elizabeth Debicki as Diana. Also returning: Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne, Theo Fraser Steele as Timothy Laurence, James Murray as Prince Andrew, Sam Woolf as Prince Edward, Marcia Warren as The Queen Mother, and Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles. The final season also brings back Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed, Salim Daw as Mohamed Al-Fayed, Bertie Carvel as Tony Blair, Lydia Leonard as Cherie Blair, and Andrew Havill as Robert Fellowes.
Prettejohn is not the only new addition to the cast. Newcomer Meg Bellamy will be introduced as Kate Middleton; Rufus Kampa splits Prince William's role with Ed McVey; Flynn Edwards and Luther Ford will do the same with Prince Harry. Timothy Dutton plays Michael Middleton, and Richard Rycroft is the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Crown's final season is expected to debut on Netflix with ten episodes in November 2023.