Lesley Manville has been cast as Princess Margaret in The Crown.
The actress, 64, will be taking the reins from current star Helena Bonham Carter for the fifth and final series of the Netflix hit, it was announced on Thursday.
The star joins Imelda Staunton in the line-up, who has been cast as Queen Elizabeth II in the hit.
Congrats! Lesley Manville has been cast as Princess Margaret (right in 1966) for the fifth and final season ofThe Crown
Lesley is believed to have been producers first choice for the role, is set to play the Queen’s younger sister during one of the ‘darkest periods of her life’.
Confirming the news in a statement, she said: ‘I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret. The baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses and I really don’t want to let the side down.
‘Furthermore, to play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy.’
The role has been played by Helena for season three and upcoming season four, and was taken on by Vanessa Kirby in season one and two.
Couldn’t be happier: Lesley confirmed the news in a Twitter statement as she revealed her delight at landing the role and being able to star alongside her friend
Portrayal: The star, who is believed to have been producers first choice for the role, is set to play the Queen’s younger sister during one of the ‘darkest periods of her life’ (pictured 1995)
Taking over: The actress, 64, is taking the reins from current star Helena Bonham Carter for the fifth and final series of the Netflix hit (right: Princess Margaret)
Big shoes to fill: Vanessa Kirby played the role for season one and two (right: arriving at a State banquet at the Australian Embassy in London in 1966)
A source told The Sun: ‘Lesley is hugely respected by the creators of The Crown and was their first choice to play Princess Margaret this time.
‘They wanted a star who could tackle the difficult role of a royal entering one of the darkest periods of her life, when the Windsors faced endless scandals and she was dogged by ill health.
‘That’s why Lesley was one of the first actors they approached to join the new cast, and remains one of the few who has fully committed to The Crown.
The insider revealed that several A-list actors are currently in the running to be signed for the fifth series, but only Lesley and Imelda have signed so far.
Lesley, who recently played the lead in BBC sitcom Mum, has previously starred in Vera Drake and Maleficent alongside Imelda.
The role of Princess Margaret was first taken on by Vanessa Kirby, who portrayed the Royal in her twenties during her love affair with Peter Townsend.
Royally good: Imelda Staunton is to play the Queen in The Crown. The 63-year-old will take over the role of Elizabeth II for seasons five and six of the Netflix drama
Announcement: Imelda said she was ‘genuinely honoured to be taking The Crown to its conclusion’
It is believed that the final instalment of the royal drama will pick up in the 1990s when Princess Margaret was 60.
Helena, who has won critical acclaim for her characterisation Princess Margaret, recently admitted bosses thought she was ‘insulting’ them when she didn’t immediately agree to the part.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she said: ‘With Margaret, I was very conscious that I was inheriting a hit. I was conscious that Vanessa [Kirby] had just won a BAFTA. At the beginning, the first two weeks, everyone was terrified. Then you relax.
‘But the other thing was I have to see a script and have to respond to the words. People were shocked that I wouldn’t just take it.
‘I think [creator Peter] Morgan thought I was insulting them, and I wasn’t. I just needed to know whether I could do it.’
Award-winning: Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (L) is playing Queen Elizabeth II (pictured right in 1964) in series three and four of The Crown
Coronation: Claire Foy (L) played a young Queen Elizabeth II (pictured right in 1955) as she ascended the throne following her late father’s death during seasons one and two
However, Helena agreed to do the show after she was sent the script for the last episode of the series where she felt she ‘connected’ with Margaret.
The film star added that she took so long to say yes, not because of a lack of faith in the project, but because of a lack of faith in herself.
Helena has thrown herself wholeheartedly into the series and said she goes to ‘extreme’ lengths in order to get into character.
Netflix previously revealed that more than 73 million households have streamed at least part of show since it first launched in November 2016.
Series three of The Crown hit Netflix in November 2019, with Oscar-winner Olivia Colman taking the throne from Claire Foy, who portrayed the monarch in the first two seasons.
The third series followed events including the Aberfan mining disaster, the moon landing, the romance between Prince Charles and Camilla Shand and the investiture of Charles as the Prince of Wales.
Also appearing in the series are Tobias Menzies as Prince Phillip, Helena as Princess Margaret, Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, and Ben Daniels as Anthony Armstrong Jones, the Earl of Snowdon.
The fourth series is currently in production at Elstree Studios and locations across the UK and will see the introduction of Diana, Princess of Wales, played by Emma Corrin, and Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson.
New guard: The fourth season, which will air in 2020, sees the addition of Emma Corrin as Princess Diana (L) and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher (R)
It was initially thought the series would run for six series, spanning six decades.
Cindy Holland, vice president of original content at Netflix, said: ‘The first three seasons of The Crown defined an era, and I know the upcoming fourth season will build further on that success.
‘It’s a stunning example of award-winning entertainment, created in the UK and loved by millions of fans around the world.
‘I fully support Peter Morgan’s creative decision and am excited to see how he, Imelda Staunton and the cast and crew of season five, bring this landmark series to a fitting and spectacular end.’
Not to be: The fifth series will end before portraying Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s sensational break from the Royal Family
Scandal: It will also not include Prince Andrew’s scandalous friendship with billionaire paedophile Epstein, which engulfed the Royals and resulted in his ‘sacking’
Key moments in the Royal Family’s history the show will not cover includes Meghan and Harry’s decision to step back as senior Royals.
Meghan and Harry rocked the foundations of the Royal Family when they announced their shock decision as they ‘work to become financially independent’.
In a turbulent year for the House of Windsor Prince Andrew was also ‘sacked’ from all Royal duties by the Queen after a disastrous Newsnight interview about his years of friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Executive producer Suzanne Mackie shared earlier this year: ‘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.’
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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