God — or at least Netflix — saved the queen.
Despite previously announcing that its fifth season would be its last, “The Crown” has been renewed for a surprise sixth and final season, the streaming service announced Thursday.
Creator Peter Morgan revealed that he’s now changing course to stick to his original six-season plan for the sumptuous royal drama, which chronicles the ups and downs of the British monarchy so convincingly that even the real-life Queen Elizabeth II is rumored to tune in now and then.
“As we started to discuss the storylines for [season five], 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 statement. “To be clear, [season six] will not bring us any closer to present day — it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”
For those hoping that the switch-up might inch the series’s timeline closer to the recent royal drama surrounding Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle or perhaps to Prince Andrew’s ties to the late Jeffrey Epstein, the series will still maintain a modicum of historical distance.
In January, an executive producer on the series shot down the possibility of Harry and Meghan’s appearing on the show. “To be honest, whatever the life of ‘The Crown’ is after where we are now, I doubt we’ll ever go as far into the present day,” Suzanne Mackie told PA Media, according to the BBC.
It’s presumed that the fifth and sixth seasons will leave the series somewhere in the early 2000s, according to Variety.
The news arrives six months after Netflix confirmed the series would end with the fifth season, which will see Imelda Staunton assume the role of Elizabeth. The “Harry Potter” alumna is taking the reins from Olivia Colman, who made her debut as the monarch in season three and will return for the upcoming fourth season, which is expected to debut on the streaming service later this year.
Claire Foy portrayed the queen in the first two seasons to much critical acclaim, winning a prime-time Emmy among other awards for her portrayal. On-set paparazzi photos revealed she’s set to return in a flashback in the fourth season.
The next chapter will reportedly propel the drama into the 1980s, as U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) takes a central role. The series will also welcome Emma Corrin as a young Diana Spencer, while Lesley Manville has been slotted as Helena Bonham Carter’s successor to play Princess Margaret in the final two installments.
“‘The Crown’ keeps raising the bar with each new season,” Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice president of original content, said of the show’s future. “We can’t wait for audiences to see the upcoming fourth season, and we’re proud to support Peter’s vision and the phenomenal cast and crew for a sixth and final season.”