Imelda Staunton reveals playing the Queen in the upcoming series of The Crown was a ‘terrifying prospect’ but insists the show treads a ‘truthful line’

Imelda Staunton has said playing the Queen in the upcoming series of The Crown was a ‘terrifying prospect’ but defended the Netflix drama for ‘treading a truthful line’.

The veteran actress, 66, takes over the role of Her Majesty from Olivia Coleman for the fifth series on the historical blockbuster, which returns to screens this month.

Over the first four series of The Crown, the Netflix hit has become well known for bending facts to suit its narrative, and while some artistic license is inevitable, some critics have been outraged in its rewriting of history and relationships.


Imelda Staunton (left)  has said playing the Queen (right in 1982) the upcoming series of The Crown was a ‘terrifying prospect’ but defended the Netflix drama for ‘treading a truthful line 

The latest series is likely to be scrutinised even more as its the first season since Elizabeth II died aged 96.

‘[It was a] terrifying prospect. But the production was so sublime, and these people are interesting and complicated,’ the British actress told this week’s The Binge Guide in Stellar Magazine.

‘And [creator] Peter [Morgan] gives you an imagined life behind the doors. But it’s not ridiculous. 

‘We all try to tread a very truthful line, and the challenge of playing people who are, for all intents and purposes, constrained by their lives and their duty and their relationships, in some cases, is a great acting challenge. So to try to keep the standards up from the previous four seasons was a privilege’.


The fifth season also introduces Olivia Williams (left), who plays Camilla Parker-Bowles, now the Queen Consort (right)

The final two series of The Crown will cover the Royal Family’s history throughout the 1990s and into 2003 and expects to include the Queen making a speech on her 40th anniversary of her accession in 1992, in which she called the year an ‘annus horriblis’. 

She was referring to the breakdown of three of her children’s marriages; Prince Andrew, Princess Anne’s and Prince Charles’ divorce from Princess Diana.  

The breakdown of Charles and Diana’s relationship will be a central part of the new series. The fourth series of The Crown, which streamed in November last year, told the story of the early romance between Charles and Diana.

The final two series of The Crown will cover the Royal Family’s history throughout the 1990s and into 2003 and expects to include the Queen making a speech on her 40th anniversary of her accession in 1992, in which she called the year an ‘annus horriblis’

She was referring to the breakdown of three of her children’s marriages; Prince Andrew, Princess Anne’s and Prince Charles’ divorce from Princess Diana

Olivia (pictured) who takes over the role from Emerald Fennell, also reflected on recreating some of the most traumatic years for the Windsors

The fifth season also introduces Olivia Williams, who plays Camilla Parker-Bowles, now the Queen Consort.

Olivia, who takes over the role from Emerald Fennell, also reflected on recreating some of the most traumatic years for the Windsors. 

The Binge Guide in Stellar Magazine is out now

‘It’s an extraordinary thing to re-enact these dreadful events. And I think we have to keep on bringing it back to the fact that we’re only depicting them as they have a bearing on the crown, on the movement of the monarchy from one generation to the next,’ she said.

‘And these things did threaten the crown. And particularly the press interpretation of these events, did shake the foundations and that’s what the subject is of [this] series’

Lesley Manville is set to play her sister Princess Margaret, replacing Helena Bonham Carter.

While James Pryce will take over the role of Prince Philip for the seasons showing the Royals navigating the 1990s and early 2000s while Elizabeth Debicki will take over the coveted role of Princess Diana from Emma Corrin.

James Murray will take on the role of Prince Andrew, replacing Tom Byrne, who played the Queen’s second son in series four.

Meanwhile Dodi Fayed is expected to play a large part in the next series of The Crown, with British actor Khalid Abdalla, 39, who starred in the 2007 film The Kite Runner, cast in the role.

Pivotal moments from The Crown so far… 

King Edward VIII abdicates the throne for love    

Edward fell in love with Wallis Simpson, a married woman, and planned to marry her after his coronation when her divorce had come through.

However they were denied the opportunity to marry and due to divorce being forbidden for the Royals and decided to move to France together.

Edward later returned to England to face his family for the funeral of George VI following his death and went on to form a close bond with Prince Charles.

Bigger picture: King Edward VIII abdicates the throne for love

Princess Margaret is also denied her happy ending 

Princess Margaret, who is painted as the Royal rebel throughout the first and second seasons, hoped to step outside tradition and marry divorcee Peter Townsend.

However growing public chatter over the illicit relationship begins to overshadow Elizabeth’s post coronation fame.

Margaret makes her intentions to marry Peter clear to Queen Elizabeth II and she asks her to wait until she is 25 to tie the knot with her love.

However when her 25th birthday does roll around the Queen has to go back on her word due to pressure from the Crown, and tells Margaret that she cannot grant her permission to marry Peter.

Devastated: Princess Margaret is denied her happy ending with Peter Townsend

Winston Churchill’s rise and fall

The first and second seasons depicted the Queen’s relationship with the Prime Minister of the time, Winston Churchill.

Following his successful leadership during the Second World War, Winston rises to power again for a second time during Elizabeth’s reign.

The Crown follows Winston’s journey as he adjusts to answering to a woman in power and his deteriorating health. 

Royal marriage is rocked Elizabeth’s new role

The power struggle in the relationship is clear to see as Elizabeth’s role as the Queen takes priority over her marriage, while Prince Philip isn’t used to taking a backseat. 

The Crown also hints at infidelity in their relationship as Elizabeth finds a picture of Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova among his possessions, before sending him off on a five-month tour on the Royal yacht.

The tension comes to a head during the premiere for season two when the Royal couple argue on board the HMY Britannia as they strive to find a resolution to their problems, due to divorce not being an option for a monarch.

Trouble in paradise: Royal marriage is rocked Elizabeth’s new role

Elizabeth’s journey to accepting the Crown 

The start of the series shows a more wary and shy Elizabeth, compared to the formidable monarch she has grown into.

One of the key moments in the first series is her journey to accepting the Crown, after having to reconfigure all of the relationships in her life.

The series shows the Queen growing in confidence as she finds herself on a path of self-discovery.

The Queen visits Aberfan 

Aberfan: After reflecting on her decision, she eventually visited alongside her husband and it is claimed her delayed response remains one of her greatest regrets

Episode three of the third season focuses on the Aberfan disaster which killed 144 people, including 116 childrne, after a colliery spoil tip collapsed over a school in a Welsh village.

The Queen did not immediately visit the disaster site, citing that she did not want to distract away from the tragedy with her presence.

However after reflecting on her decision, she eventually visited alongside her husband and it is claimed her delayed response remains one of her greatest regrets.

 The Royal Family documentary 

Inside the life: In a bid to give the public a better understanding of the Royal family they let a camera crew into their lives for 18 months

In a bid to give the public a better understanding of the Royal family they let a camera crew into their lives for 18 months.

The Crown depicts the whole thing as a disaster with the family reportedly banning the programme from ever being aired again.

However in actuality, the documentary was well-received and had sky high viewing figures.

Prince Charles valuable time in Wales

Touching: Prince Charles valuable time in Wales

After receiving backlash for the title ‘Prince of Wales’, despite not being a citizen or speaking the language, Prince Charles was sent to Aberystwyth University to learn the language.

Charles, who was 20 at the time, finished the trip with an elaborate investiture to pledge his allegiance to the Queen in Welsh.

However he asked to tweak the speech to add in his own voice, promising the Welsh residents that they wouldn’t be forgotten by England again.

Princess Margaret wows at the White House

She impressed! After being sent on a Royal tour of the U.S. in place of her sister, Margaret was invited to dinner at the White House by President Lyndon B. Johnson

After being sent on a Royal tour of the U.S. in place of her sister, Margaret was invited to dinner at the White House by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The whole night appeared a huge success thanks to Margaret’s quick-wit and charm, with President Johnson seemingly lapping it up.

However across the pond Margaret’s success appeared to worry the Queen as she seemed concerned she was being outshone by her sibling.   

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