Warning: There are spoilers for The Crown season 4 ahead.
The Crown’s season 4 finale definitely felt final: we said goodbye to the '80s, Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson), and any last shred of empathy for Prince Charles. In some ways, however, episode 10 was only the beginning. As The Crown season 5 takes on the '90s, we’ll likely see the collapse of Charles’ and Diana’s marriage, Diana’s tragic death, and the Queen’s partnerships with Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair — but you’ll have to wait a little longer for season 5 than usual.
New seasons of The Crown typically drop around November every year, but the Emmy-winning show is going on a hiatus in 2021. According to Deadline, the The Crown's filming break was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic altered production on countless shows and movies. But even if it hadn’t already been scheduled, chances are high that this year’s filming shutdowns would’ve affected The Crown, which features many elaborate sets and locations. Season 5, the show’s penultimate instalment, will hit Netflix in 2022 (likely around November or December, per usual). The team is hoping to begin filming season 5 in June 2021, and then shoot season 6 in 2022.
Creator Peter Morgan originally planned for The Crown to end after its fifth season; Netflix even made an official announcement to the same effect. But as he started writing season 5, Morgan realised there was just too much material to cover. “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 said in a Deadline report from July 2020. “To be clear, Series 6 will not bring us any closer to present-day — it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”
In other words, the addition of a sixth season won't show us the Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton years. But in season 5, we will meet a brand new cast. With every two seasons comes the end of an era: after season 2, Olivia Colman replaced Claire Foy, and as we head into the ’90s, Olivia Colman will pass her title to Imelda Staunton, also known as Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter movies. Foy surprised fans with a cameo in season 4, though, so it's entirely possible Colman will reappear, too.
As for the rest of the cast, Lesley Manville will take over the role of Princess Margaret, Jonathan Pryce will play an older Prince Philip, and Elizabeth Debicki will portray Diana. Dominic West is also reportedly in talks to play Charles. And while 2022 feels so far away, the beauty of this show is that if you just can’t wait for season 5, there’s no shortage of documentaries, biographies, and current-day Royal Family drama to satisfy your Crown cravings.