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Imelda Staunton 'to succeed Olivia Colman' as Queen in season five

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Less than a week after Olivia Colman made her debut as the Queen in the latest series of The Crown, her successor has reportedly been named.

Imelda Staunton will replace Colman as monarch in the smash-hit show from season five, the Daily Mail has said.

Season three of the Netflix blockbuster began on Sunday, with all ten episodes made available to download.

If cast, Ms Staunton, 63, is likely to face several royal crises, including Prince Charles's split from Diana, Princess of Wales, part of the monarch's "annus horribilis" of 1992.

That year also saw Prince Andrew separate from Sarah, Duchess of York, the fire at Windsor Castle and Princess Anne's divorce from Captain Mark Phillips.

Other episodes are likely to deal with Diana's death in 1997 and those of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother within weeks of each other in early 2002.

Staunton, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2004 for playing the lead in Vera Drake, is also known for playing Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films and appeared with her husband Jim Carter in the Downton Abbey movie.

She appears to be ideal for the role, not least because she has met several members of the Royal Family, including Her Majesty during the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations in 2016.

In that year, she was awarded the CBE, although the investiture ceremony was carried out by Prince William.

She has also played an on-screen royal, taking the part of the Queen Mother in the BBC2 drama Cambridge Spies.

Colman will step down at the end of season four, to be shown next year, as Netflix continues to hire new actors to take over the major roles after incumbents complete their 20-episode stint, rather than artificially ageing the show's stars.

Ms Staunton will be around the same age as the Queen, who was 64 in 1992.

The Crown, created by Peter Morgan, first aired in 2016, with Claire Foy in the lead role, Matt Smith as the Duke of Edinburgh and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret.

A Netflix spokesman said in a statement: "We are currently filming season four of The Crown but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation."

Sky News

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