How the Cast of The Crown Compares to the Real-Life Players

All hail these transformations! See how the stars of The Crown transformed into Queen Elizabeth II, her royal family and more prominent figures.

By Alyssa Ray Sep 17, 2021 10:00 AMTags
Watch: Why "The Crown" Won't Tackle Meghan & Harry's Story

Olivia Colman's reign as Queen Elizabeth II has come to an end.

Sunday, Sept. 19 marks the last Emmy Awards where Colman will be up for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on The Crown. Why? Because she's since passed on the, well, crown to Harry Potter actress Imelda Staunton.

On July 30, Netflix released the first look of Staunton's transformation into Queen Elizabeth II, a much anticipated image as the actress's casting was first teased back in November 2019. In the first glimpse, Staunton donned the queen's signature short bob, pearls and yellow-patterned outfit.

But she's obviously not the first to hold the throne as part of the Netflix series: Prior to Staunton and Colman's reigns, Claire Foy played Queen Elizabeth.

And it appears Colman is excited to hand over her crown. "Imelda is extraordinary," she raved to the Radio Times in December, "and she's going to do it all much better than me. I can't wait to watch what she does."

We don't know about "better," since season four of The Crown is up for several awards at the 2021 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and many acting nominations.

Everything We Know About the Future of The Crown

Of course, Staunton's first pic as the queen isn't the only tease we've gotten for season five.

In August, Elizabeth Debicki, who succeeds Emmy nominee Emma Corrin as Princess Diana, was spotted filming a scene on the grounds of Ardverikie Lodge, which doubles as the royal family's Scottish holiday home, Balmoral Castle. The production photo made it clear that the new season is set right in the heart of the '90s.

After all, Debicki was seen wearing one of Diana's classic ensembles: jeans and an oversized blazer.

We cannot wait to see the other transformations season five has in store as the new cast list also features Jonathan Pryce as Prince Phillip, Dominic West as Prince Charles and Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret.

Alex Bailey/Netflix

Take a closer look at The Crown cast and their real-life counterparts by scrolling through the images below.

Meg Bellamy as Kate Middleton

The actress appears as the Princess of Wales in an official season six photo.

Ed McVey as Prince William

The actor appears as the Prince of Wales in a season six photo.

Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II

A new queen is wearing the crown! Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth II for season five of the Netflix hit.

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II

Olivia Colman played the royal family's matriarch for seasons three and four.

Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II

Claire Foy played Queen Elizabeth II in seasons one and two of Netflix's The Crown, portraying the early days of the Queen's reign.

Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip

Jonathan Pryce is taking over the role of Prince Philip for the fifth and sixth seasons.

Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip

Tobias Menzies stepped into the role of Prince Philip for seasons three and four.

Matt Smith as Prince Philip

Doctor Who alum Matt Smith played a younger version of Queen Elizabeth's longtime love Prince Philip in seasons one and two.

Dominic West as Prince Charles

Dominic West will play Prince Charles in The Crown's fifth season.

Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles

Seasons three and four featured Josh O'Connor as heir apparent Prince Charles.

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana

Elizabeth Debicki will play Princess Diana in season five of The Crown.

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana

Emma Corrin took on the daunting task of playing the beloved late Princess Diana for season four.

Senan West as Prince William

Dominic West's own son, Senan West, will play his on-screen son Prince William in the latter half of season five.

Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret

Lesley Manville is portraying Elizabeth's strong-minded sister Princess Margaret in seasons five and six. 

Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret

Helena Bonham Carter was a natural fit to play the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, in seasons three and four of the period drama.

Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret

British actress Vanessa Kirby portrayed a young Princess Margaret in the first two seasons of The Crown.

Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles

As the Charles-Diana saga heats up in seasons five and six, Olivia Williams is stepping into Camilla Parker Bowles' heels.

Emerald Fennell as Camilla Parker Bowles

The Prince Charles-Princess Diana saga wouldn't be complete without Camilla Parker Bowles, played by Emerald Fennell in seasons three and four.

Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne

Claudia Harrison is taking the reigns as Princess Anne in seasons four and five.

Erin Doherty as Princess Anne

Erin Doherty played Prince Philip's favorite child, Princess Anne, in seasons three and four.

James Murray as Prince Andrew

James Murray will portray Prince Andrew as his marriage to Sarah Ferguson falls apart in seasons five and six.

Sam Woolf as Prince Edward

Sam Woolf will star as Queen Elizabeth's youngest child Prince Edward in seasons five and six.

Johnny Lee Miller as John Major

It's not just the royals who are portrayed in The Crown. Johnny Lee Miller will take on Prime Minister John Major, who served in the role from 1990 to 1997.

Bertie Varvel as Tony Blair

Afterwards, Bertie Varvel will nab the prime minister role in seasons five and six as Tony Blair, who served from 1997 to 2007.

Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher

Gillian Anderson played Britain's first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in season four.

Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed

For seasons five and six, Khalid Abdalla is originating the role of Dodi Fayed, Diana's partner who also died in the 1997 Paris car crash. 

Ben Daniels as Antony Armstrong-Jones

Ben Daniels joined The Crown in season three to play Princess Margaret's ex husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones.

Matthew Goode as Antony Armstrong-Jones

Matthew Goode became Antony Armstrong-Jones for season two of The Crown.

John Lithgow as Winston Churchill

John Lithgow played one the most famous prime ministers, Winston Churchill, in season one.

Alex Jennings and Derek Jacobi as Edward, Duke of Windsor

The infamous Duke of Windsor made an appearance in seasons one through three, played at different times by Alex Jennings and Derek Jacobi.

View More Photos From The Crown Cast Vs. the Royals They Play

(A version of this story originally published Aug. 7, 2021 at 6 p.m. PT)

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