Netflix's The Crown depends heavily on suspension of disbelief. The Peter Morgan-led drama charts the course of the royal family during the years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and dozens of actors have stepped in to play characters many of us recognize from the news. It’s vital that the cast be up to the task of embodying, exemplifying, and mimicking that with which we’re already familiar—and they can’t just act the part; they need to look it too. For numerous seasons, The Crown has risen to the occasion and cast the best possible actors to play some of the world's most fascinating (and mystifying) people.
Season 6, to be released in two parts in November and December 2023, will focus on the death of Princess Diana, Prince William’s budding relationship with his future wife, and the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. This means the adorable kids that played Prince Harry and Prince William in season 5 have been replaced with older actors, and we’ll get our first glimpse of Kate Middleton. It will also feature returning actors, like Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana, and Dominic West as Prince Charles.
Ahead, a look at all the main players in The Crown—and how they compare to their real-life counterparts.
Ed McVey / Prince William
In his on-screen debut, newcomer Ed McVey is depicting Prince William as he begins to date Kate Middleton at St. Andrews University, where the future king and queen consort first met.
Meg Bellamy / Kate Middleton
In her first major role, Meg Bellamy is playing a college-aged Kate and is basically a dead ringer for the royal.
Luther Ford / Prince Harry
Luther Ford is making his acting debut playing Prince Harry during the second half of the final season, which takes us to 2005.
Rufus Kampa / Prince William
In his first acting credit, Rufus Kampa is playing a teenage Prince William in the first half of season 6.
Fflyn Edwards / Prince Harry
Fflyn Edwards—seen here with Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Princess Diana—is portraying a young Harry, alongside Kampa. You might have previously seen the young actor in Shadow & Bone or 1899.
Imelda Staunton / Queen Elizabeth II
Imelda Staunton, who famously appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as the love-to-hate Dolores Umbridge, stars as the sovereign in seasons 5 and 6, taking over from Olivia Colman.
Jonathan Pryce / Prince Philip
After starring in the Oscar-nominated The Two Popes, Game of Thrones, and Tomorrow Never Dies, Jonathan Pryce plays an aging Prince Philip in seasons 5 and 6.
Lesley Manville / Princess Margaret
Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris) plays the queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, in seasons 5 and 6, taking over for Helena Bonham Carter.
Elizabeth Debicki / Princess Diana
Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager, Tenet) is radiant as Princess Diana in seasons 5 and 6, following Emma Corrin, who played her as a young woman first meeting Charles.
Dominic West / Prince Charles
The Affair and The Wire's Dominic West plays Prince Charles (now known as King Charles III), following Josh O'Connor, who played the royal in his youth.
Olivia Williams / Camilla Parker-Bowles
Olivia Williams, seen in films like The Ghost Writer and The Sixth Sense, stars as Camilla Parker-Bowles in seasons 5 and 6, following Emerald Fennell.
Marcia Warren / Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
Known for titles like Leap Year and Vicious, Marcia Warren plays Queen Elizabeth's mother in seasons 5 and 6.
Senan West / Prince William
Dominick West's own son, Senan, plays Charles and Diana's oldest son, Prince William, in season 5.
Will Powell / Prince Harry
Young actor Will Powell plays a young Prince Harry in season 5.
Claudia Harrison / Princess Anne
Claudia Harrison (The Cat's Meow, Murphy's Law) plays the queen and Prince Philip's daughter, Princess Anne, in seasons 5 and 6.
Khalid Abdalla / Dodi Al-Fayed
Khalid Abdalla, who has starred in The Kite Runner and Hanna, plays film producer Dodi Al-Fayed, who famously dated Princess Diana, in seasons 5 and 6.
Salim Daw / Mohamed Al-Fayed
Salim Daw (Gaza mon amour, Tyrant, Fauda) plays Mohamed Al-Fayed, a successful business man and Dodi's father.
Humayun Saeed / Hasnat Khan
Veteran Pakistani actor Humayun Saeed plays Hasnat Khan, who was in a relationship with Diana from 1995 to 1997.
Jonny Lee Miller / John Major
Elementary and Trainspotting's Jonny Lee Miller plays Prime Minister John Major, who served from 1990 to 1997, following Margaret Thatcher.
James Murray / Prince Andrew
Known for shows like Coronation Street and Suspects, James Murray portrays Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, the second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
Sam Woolf / Prince Edward
Sam Woolf, who has appeared on Humans and C.B. Strike, makes a brief appearance in season 5 as Prince Edward, the fourth and youngest of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's children.
Timothy Dalton / Peter Townsend
Former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton picked up the role of Princess Margaret's former lover Peter Townsend in season 5 of The Crown, reuniting the pair for one last dance.
Prasanna Puwanarajah / Martin Bashir
BBC journalist Martin Bashir's famous interview with Princess Diana is depicted in season 5, during which Patrick Melrose actor Prasanna Puwanarajah plays him.
Andrew Steele / Andrew Morton
In season 5, Outlander actor Andrew Steele played Andrew Morton, the royal journalist who secretly interviewed Princess Diana via tapes and published a biography called Diana: Her True Story.
Natascha McElhone / Penelope Knatchbull
In season 5, The Truman Show actress Natascha McElhone plays Penny Knatchbull, a friend of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's, and a new carriage-driving companion to Prince Philip after the loss of her daughter.
Bertie Carvel and Lydia Leonard / Tony and Cherie Blair
Bertie Carvel and Lydia Leonard play Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie Blair, as season 5 of The Crown draws to a close. They are expected to return for season 6.
Olivia Colman / Queen Elizabeth II
The Oscar winner stepped into the role of Queen Elizabeth II for seasons 3 and 4, taking the reigns from Claire Foy.
Tobias Menzies / Prince Philip
The Outlander star took on the role of Prince Philip for seasons 3 and 4, following Matt Smith's portrayal.
Helena Bonham Carter / Princess Margaret
The Oscar nominee played Princess Margaret in seasons 3 and 4, taking over for Vanessa Kirby.
Marion Bailey / Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
Marion Bailey (Mr. Turner) played Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, for seasons 3 and 4.
Josh O'Connor / Prince Charles
Josh O'Connor (Doctor Who, Peaky Blinders) picked up the role of Prince Charles in seasons 3 and 4.
Emma Corrin / Princess Diana
Emma Corrin landed the pivotal role of Lady Diana Spencer—who becomes Diana, Princess of Wales—in season 4.
Gillian Anderson / Margaret Thatcher
Conservative politician Margaret Thatcher made her debut in the series in season 4, played by Gillian Anderson (The X-Files). The "Iron Lady," as she was called, was prime minister from 1979 until 1990—and the first woman to hold the office.
Erin Doherty / Princess Anne
Erin Doherty took on the role of a young Princess Anne in seasons 3 and 4.
Emerald Fennell / Camilla Parker-Bowles
Seasons 3 and 4 depicted the early relationship between Camilla Parker-Bowles (played by Fennell) and Prince Charles. "I absolutely love Camilla, and am very grateful that my teenage years have well prepared me for playing a chain-smoking serial snogger with a pudding bowl haircut," Fennell said in a statement.
Charles Dance / Lord Mountbatten
Charles Dance played the ill-fated Lord Mountbatten in seasons 3 and 4. In season 4, the naval officer's 1979 assassination and its impact on the royal family is depicted.
Charles Edwards / Martin Charteris
Charles Edwards took over for Harry Hadden-Patton as Queen Elizabeth II's private secretary for seasons 3 and 4. He was a trusted confidant for the monarch prior to her time as queen, nurturing their close relationship up until his departure from royal service.
Ben Daniels / Antony Armstrong-Jones
Ben Daniels took on the role of Princess Margaret's husband, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, the Earl of Snowdon, in season 3.
John Lithgow / Sir Winston Churchill
Emmy-, Tony-, and Golden Globe-winning John Lithgow played the legendary Prime Minister Winston Churchill in seasons 1 and 2, as well as having a brief cameo in the season 3 premiere.
Claire Foy / Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II was played by English actor Claire Foy for seasons 1 and 2.
Matt Smith / Prince Philip
English actor Matt Smith played the uncompromisingly bold Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for seasons 1 and 2.
Victoria Hamilton / Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
The Queen Mother was played by English actress Victoria Hamilton for seasons 1 and 2.
Vanessa Kirby / Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret was played by English actress Vanessa Kirby in seasons 1 and 2.
Matthew Goode / Antony Armstrong-Jones
English actor Matthew Goode played Antony Armstrong-Jones, later known as the Earl of Snowdon, in season 2. (You may recognize Goode from his role as Lady Mary's last love interest on Downton Abbey.)
Julian Baring / Prince Charles
In the early seasons, Prince Charles was played by young Julian Baring.
Jared Harris / King George VI
English actor Jared Harris appeared in season 1 as King George VI.
Alex Jennings / The Duke of Windsor
Alex Jennings plays the queen's uncle, the Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII), in seasons 1 and 2.
Lia Williams / Wallis Simpson
Wallis Simpson, played by English actress Williams, was an American socialite and the wife of the former King Edward VIII.
Eileen Atkins / Queen Mary of Teck
The matriarch of the Windsor family, Queen Mary of Teck, was played by Atkins. The queen consort passed away in 1953, but served as a mentor to Queen Elizabeth II during her first year as monarch.
Ben Miles / Peter Townsend
Peter Townsend, played by English actor Ben Miles in seasons 1 and 2, was the equerry first to King George VI and then to Queen Elizabeth from 1944 to 1952. He fell in love with Princess Margaret.
Harriet Walter / Clementine Churchill
Clementine Spencer-Churchill remained by her husband's side through his multiple terms as prime minister, as depicted throughout season 1 by actress Harriet Walter.
Jeremy Northam / Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden, The Earl of Avon, played by English actor Jeremy Northam in seasons 1 and 2, became the prime minister after Winston Churchill stepped down in April of 1955.
Anton Lesser / Harold Macmillan
Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was played by English actor Anton Lesser in season 2.
Sylvestra Le Touzel / Lady Dorothy Macmillan
Dorothy, played by Sylvestra Le Touzel, was the wife of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. It was her relationship with another gentleman that drove most of her plot lines in season 2 and captured the public's intrigue.
Will Keen / Michael Adeane
The queen's private secretary, Michael Adeane, was played by English actor Will Keen in seasons 1 and 2.
Harry Hadden-Paton / Martin Charteris
Martin Charteris, played by Harry Hadden-Paton in early episodes, was educated at Eton and worked as the private secretary to Queen Elizabeth when she was merely a princess. After the death of her father, Charteris moved to her Buckingham Palace team and worked as her assistant private secretary, alongside Sir Michael Adeane.
Pip Torrens / Tommy Lascelles
After serving three British monarchs—George V, Edward VIII, and George VI—Alan 'Tommy" Lascelles (played by Pip Torrens in seasons 1 and 2, with a cameo in season 3) was a pillar of support for the newly minted queen and served as her private secretary until his retirement a year later.
Greg Wise / Lord Mountbatten
Louis Mountbatten was a naval officer and the former Viceroy of India. Played by Greg Wise in the first two seasons of the Netflix show, Mountbatten is the uncle of Prince Philip and had a close relationship with Prince Charles until his assassination in 1979 by the Provisional IRA.
Daniel Ings / Mike Parker
Mike Parker, played by Daniel Ings, is featured throughout the first two seasons. As equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as his close friend, Parker joined Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth on their royal tours and visits. However, when his wife, Eileen, divorced him, citing "adultery," he was forced to resign.
Chloe Pirrie / Eileen Parker
Eileen Parker, played by Chloe Pirrie in season 2, was not prepared for the attention that would come with divorcing the Duke's private equerry. In 1958, she was granted a divorce based on evidence of adultery during the Duke's royal tour.
Mark Tandy / Cecil Beaton
Artist and photographer Cecil Beaton was portrayed in season 2 by actor Mark Tandy. He is the creative behind Princess Margaret's iconic birthday portrait.
John Heffernan / Lord Altrincham
In season 2, The Crown shines a light on journalist Lord Altrincham, played by John Heffernan. The writer caused controversy in the early '60s for his critical essays of the queen. In a private meeting, Lord Altrincham offered advice to the palace that was eventually incorporated by the royals as they adjusted to a rapidly modernizing era.
Michael C. Hall / President John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy, played by Michael C. Hall, was portrayed as a bit of a bully who was insecure about his wife's spotlight on their European tour. The episode "Dear Mrs. Kennedy" in season 2 takes a peek at the iconic couple's closed door relationship and follows the duo up to the president's assassination.
Jodi Balfour / Jacqueline Kennedy
The ever-glamorous Jackie Kennedy visited Buckingham Palace in 1961 and was portrayed by Jodi Balfour in season 2. The meeting of the first lady and the queen was highly covered by the press, but the two did not appear to be steadfast friends. Jackie is said to have criticized the queen's style, as well as the palace's.
Paul Sparks / Reverend Billy Graham
Billy Graham, a reverend from North Carolina, rose to prominence in the '60s after he began broadcasting his sermons across the country—and eventually internationally. Paul Sparks portrays the figure who, while touring the United Kingdom, was invited to an informal meeting with the queen, who had become a fan of his work.
Leonie Benesch / Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark
In season 2, fans get a peek at the tragic upbringing of Prince Philip in the episode "Paterfamilias," as well as his especially close relationship with his older sister, Princess Cecilie. Cecilie, who was played by Leonie Benesch, was killed when her plane crashed while traveling to London from Germany with her children, husband, and mother-in-law.
Alice Hewkin / Jacqui Chan
The former girlfriend of Antony Armstrong-Jones, actress Jacqui Chan, is played by Alice Hewkin in season 2 of The Crown. Born in Trinidad, Chan rose to fame in the London play "The World of Suzie Wong." She and Armstrong-Jones were involved up until he met Princess Margaret—and the actress was even in attendance at their royal wedding in 1960.
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