Who is taking over from Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret in The Crown season 5 and what lies in store for the Queen’s sister?

Princess Margaret in The Crown season 5 is sure to catch fans’ attention—but who will be playing this iconic role?

Princess Margaret in The Crown played by Helena Bonham Carter
(Image credit: Netflix)

Princess Margaret in The Crown has been entertaining fans ever since the Netflix drama’s first season, but who will be taking over from Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen’s sister from season 5?

Princess Margaret in The Crown has captured viewers’ attention with her witty remarks and dramatic scenes with Queen Elizabeth. Helena Bonham Carter's performance as the monarch’s sister from season 3 onwards has been unforgettable, though the time has now come for a new Princess to take her crown. This may not come as a surprise to some fans, as though people might still wonder how accurate The Crown really is, the show has regularly implemented cast changes. This is to help ensure the actors more accurately reflect the age their real-life counterparts were as the show’s time period progresses. 

Already it’s been confirmed who will be taking over as Princess Diana in The Crown and many people can’t wait to see the new Queen Elizabeth in The Crown season 5, played by Imelda Staunton. Though the final The Crown season 5 cast, plot and release date details have yet to be confirmed, another thing we do know for sure is who will be next to play the Queen’s rebellious sister. 

But who is taking over as Princess Margaret in The Crown season 5 and what lies in store?

Who will play Princess Margaret in The Crown season 5?

Though we might have become accustomed to Helena Bonham Carter’s wonderful portrayal of Princess Margaret throughout The Crown seasons 3-4, there will soon be a new actor following in her highly-praised footsteps. Acting opposite Imelda Staunton as the new Queen Elizabeth II, fellow Laurence Olivier Award winner Lesley Manville will be taking on the role of Princess Margaret in The Crown season 5. 

Lesley Manville attends a career retrospective conversation at SAG-AFTRA Foundation at The Robin Williams Center on February 18, 2020 in New York City

(Image credit: Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Known in recent years for her roles in Phantom Thread, Another Year and Harlots, Lesley’s casting was announced on social media last year by Netflix, much to fans’ delight. In a heartfelt quote shared by the streaming giant, Lesley spoke of her excitement at being the last actor to take on such an iconic role.

“I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret”, she declared. “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.”

What will Princess Margaret’s storylines be in The Crown season 5?

With Variety reporting that The Crown season 5 is set to start filming next month, there has been much speculation over exactly what time period and events the exciting upcoming season could cover, although with season 4 having ended in 1990  it’s very likely that The Crown season 5 will begin to move through the following decade. This period was an incredibly turbulent time for the Royal Family, with 1992 described by the Queen as her “annus horribilis”, her “horrible year”. 

That year saw Princess Diana and Prince Charles separate, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips divorce, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, split up. Just five years later, the Princess of Wales tragically passed away in Paris. While it has not yet been confirmed whether or not this traumatic time will be covered in The Crown season 5, it’s thought that if it does not, season 6 will.

Though Princess Margaret was not herself central to those particular royal events throughout the 1990s, it’s said that the remarkable Princess became incredibly protective of her sister during this difficult time, and was a great source of support to her. Her true thoughts about the monarch have recently been revealed in this previously unpublished Princess Margaret interview from the 1960s. 

Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, Diana, Princess of Wales with Prince Harry, and Sarah, Duchess of York with Princess Beatrice of York and Sir Angus Ogilvy

(Image credit: Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

The Crown season 5 may well also go on to further explore Princess Margaret’s health battles, which worsened throughout the decade. This is something already hinted at in The Crown season 3, which saw Margaret coughing up blood and undergoing surgery after suffering issues with her lungs—an operation that went ahead in real life. However, her health worries sadly didn’t stop there, and Princess Margaret is understood to have been hospitalized with pneumonia in 1993.

According to the Royal Family’s official website, it was while staying at her holiday home on the beautiful island of Mustique in 1998 that Princess Margaret also had a mild stroke. Then just 12 months later, she severely scalded her feet in a bathroom incident, which affected her mobility to such an extent that Princess Margaret went on to require support when walking.

Queen Mother With Princess Margaret At Trooping The Colour

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

It’s not been officially confirmed exactly what year The Crown will go up to with its storylines. However, the show’s creator Peter Morgan has previously been reported as stating that despite the show now confirmed as having a sixth season, The Crown will not move much closer to present day events. According to Deadline, season 6 will instead take the story up to the early 2000s. 

With this in mind, seasons 5 and 6 of the drama could likely depict Princess Margaret’s poignant health struggles and the Queen’s relationship with her sister in their later years. It is not yet clear whether The Crown will go on to show Margaret’s death in 2002, or whether it will end in at an earlier point in history.

Who else has played Princess Margaret in The Crown?  

Though we can’t help excitedly wondering what kind of Princess Margaret will be brought to life on-screen by Lesley Manville for the final two seasons, she is following on from two equally amazing stars. Helena Bonham Carter’s performance as Princess Margaret in The Crown seasons 3-4 was the most recent portrayal to capture viewers’ hearts, but she was the second actor to take on this historic role. Prior to Harry Potter actor Helena joining the cast, the Queen’s sister was played by Vanessa Kirby.

Vanessa Kirby in The Crown as Princess Margaret

(Image credit: Netflix)

This progression of actors mirrors the way that Queen Elizabeth’s actor changed from Claire Foy in seasons 1-2 to Olivia Colman in 3-4, as the time period progressed. Vanessa took on the role of Princess Margaret as a young woman whose relationship with the Queen was later strained by her desire to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend. After being threatened with being removed from the royal line of succession should she marry him, Margaret eventually decided against it. 

Instead she went on to tie the knot with Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowden. It was with him that Princess Margaret had her son David and daughter Sarah, though the couple later divorced, in 1978. It was this challenging time that Helena depicted in The Crown, taking on the role of Princess Margaret throughout the years 1964-1990, which saw her marriage break down, all in the public eye.

Princess Margaret in The Crown played by Helena Bonham Carter

(Image credit: Netflix)

With so much of Princess Margaret’s later years to be covered, we can’t wait to see what The Crown season 5 has in store for the Queen’s sister. 

But until then, there’s never been a better time to catch up on The Crown’s other dramatic seasons on Netflix—or enjoy all the romantic moments in the new Prince William and Kate Middleton anniversary documentary!

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.


Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.


In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com. 


After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!