‘The Crown’ reviews round-up: Is Season 5 ‘captivating as ever’ or ‘the weakest yet’?

The Crown is back tomorrow!

The penultimate season of Netflix’s hit period drama series will introduce Harry Potter star Imelda Staunton as the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Ushering in an all-new cast, she’s joined by Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) as Prince Phillip, and Lesley Manville (World on Fire) as Princess Margaret.

Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager) takes over the role of Princess Diana, alongside Dominic West (The Pursuit of Loveas the new Prince Charles.

Season 5’s cast also includes Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense) as Camilla Parker Bowles, Elementary star Jonny Lee Miller as Prime Minister John Major, Bertie Carvel (Doctor Foster) as Prime Minister Tony Blair, and James Bond star Timothy Dalton as Peter Townsend.

The official synopsis reads: “It’s a new decade, and the royal family are facing what may be their biggest challenge yet: proving their continued relevance in ‘90s Britain. As Diana and Charles wage a media war, cracks begin to splinter the royal foundation.”

Watch the trailer here:


All ten episodes of Season 5 will premiere exclusively on Netflix on Wednesday 9th November.

British critics have, perhaps unsurprisingly following Queen Elizabeth II’s death this autumn, turned on The Crown somewhat this time around.

Interestingly, the American press has largely been much more positive!

We’ve rounded up a spoiler-free selection of reviews to help you decide if you’d like to watch the new season.


“Its cast is cartoonish, the plot is packed with dull speeches and multiple episodes could have been binned entirely. The royal drama has never been less relevant … with Morgan casting around for side plots to hide the fact that everything he has to say about the Windsors has already been said.” ★★ – The Guardian


The Crown has always been both a pleasure to watch, thanks to its lush production design and soapy undertones, and a more mixed success from an artistic standpoint. Season 5 is the same, but for different reasons.” – Time


“Netflix’s royal drama remains as addictive as ever … When it comes to the new cast there is a clear standout – Elizabeth Debicki … Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce and Lesley Manville all similarly excel, with performances which feel like natural progressions of their predecessors’ work.” ★★★★ – Radio Times


“[The] fifth season of The Crown is the show’s weakest outing yet: A generally scattered and unfocused show is less disciplined than ever … Even after having been handed the gift of a memorable scandal with two hugely charismatic and flawed participants as grist, The Crown finds it has nothing to say.” – Variety


“Despite a slow start and some occasional missteps, Season 5 of The Crown proves to be as addictive and captivating as ever. As fictionalised as this drama undoubtedly is, there’s no denying its continuing power to enthral.” ★★★★ – Empire


The Crown, good as ever, may change your opinion of Charles and Diana … Season 5 of the Netflix drama finds the royals spiraling into chaos but tells compelling stories about almost all of them.” – Washington Post


“Despite the thousands of outraged words that have been written accusing it of turning the royal family into a cheap soap opera, I’m afraid the first three episodes are ditchwater dull. But here’s the good news. It gets better. Much better. And the absolute star is Elizabeth Debicki, whose performance as Princess Diana is at times freakishly good.” ★★★★ – The Times


“Bad taste and bad timing combine in the new series of The Crown. This was once a superior costume drama, moments of 20th-century history packaged into an upmarket soap opera. But as the storylines catch up with the present, the show is edging towards trashy telenovela.” ★★ – The Telegraph


“Netflix’s royal drama returns in reliably fine form.” The Hollywood Reporter


“Part hagiography, part family psychodrama – this penultimate season feels more insular, more gossipy, than ever. And without the compromise of a grand scope, The Crown is the very definition of first world problems.” ★★ – The Independent


The sixth and final season of The Crown is filming in England right now, ahead of its planned arrival on Netflix in late 2023.

The Crown is available on DVD on Amazon.