'The Crown' Season 5 Reveals First Look At Imelda Staunton As Queen Elizabeth II

Although the actual royal family isn't exactly at the height of its power, Netflix' version of the monarchy has been thriving for years now. The latest season of their British drama The Crown has been dubbed the very best, ramping up the drama as it explored the courting and initial fallout of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Since the season's release last year, we've been left to wait for news of the show's next era — complete with a new set of cast members.

Finally, the wait has begun to pay off and we've been given something even grander than casting news: an actual look at season 5. We now have our first peek at a member of this revitalized royal family — and it's a biggie. Imelda Staunton, the Queen herself has arrived.

The Crown Season 5 First Look

The Crown's Twitter account released the first image of Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II, taking over the role from Olivia Colman, who played the ruler from season 3 to 4, after Claire Foy first put on the crown for the first two seasons.

Every two seasons of The Crown asks us to bid a bitter farewell to the show's main cast. These royal swaps allow the show to jump forward in time, without the worry of insane prosthetics or a Boyhood-long wait. And as much as we miss those we spent two seasons with, it's always refreshing to see someone new in each role.

Helena Bonham Carter's bitter and boozy Princess Margaret hardened the character who Vanessa Kirby introduced as free-spirited, if already cynical. In the upcoming season, the role will be tackled by Phantom Thread's Lesley Manville, and however much we miss her predecessors, it's easy to look forward to her turn as the princess.

It works because The Crown is the prestigiest of prestige TV and always nails its casting perfectly. That certainly seems to be the case with the latest lineup of royals, including Imelda Staunton's Queen Elizabeth II, who is sure to be as biting as ever. In this first look image, she looks adorable as ever in her old-fashioned dress — but also radiated the bite Elizabeth never fails to deliver. Even Stanton's famed Harry Potter role as a cruel magical bureaucrat fit oddly well with her upcoming appearance, especially given how season 4 makes the royals the height of reprehensible.

Staunton and Manville will be joined by Jonathan Pryce, as Prince Philip, Elizabeth Debecki as Princess Diana, Dominic West as Prince Charles, and Jonny Lee Miller as Sir Jonathan Major.

Season 5 of The Crown

The 1990s was a tumultuous time for the royal family...but then again, when isn't? The upcoming season will likely include the many scandals that wreaked havoc on their reputation, including three sets of divorces between Prince Charles and Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Anne and Mark Phillips. The turmoil of the Diana-Charles relationship doesn't stop there, and we're also sure to see the inevitable boiling over of Charles' obsession and eventual affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.

While season 5 was once expected to be the series' end, series creator Peter Morgan changed his mind once the creative process began. He told Deadline:

"As we started to discuss the storylines for Series 5, 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. To be clear, Series 6 will not bring us any closer to present—it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail."

Fans have long theorized that the series had the potential to catch up to the present and delve into the more recent royal scandals, but Morgan shuts this down pretty firmly. It sounds like the added season is wholly for the benefit of spending more time on past events. Anyway, it might be awkward for Netflix to explore the lives of its newest partners. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's production company Archwell productions are teaming up with the studio on an upcoming animated film, and their Netflix collab probably won't get more personal than that.

Regardless of what time period they choose to cover, the important thing is that another two seasons of The Crown are right around the corner.