No, you’re not losing your mind. The Crown Season 5 doesn’t open with a look at our new Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) or anything in the 1990s. In fact, The Crown Season 5 opens in the 1950s with the original star of the Netflix show, Claire Foy, launching the Royal Yacht Britannia. It’s a flashback that serves as way more than a throwback. Foy’s cameo sets up one of the central themes defining The Crown Season 5. Basically, Queen Elizabeth II is old now and so is her Royal Yacht and maybe — just maybe — so is the monarchy itself.

Ironically this isn’t the first time Claire Foy has returned to The Crown since handing over the role of Queen Elizabeth II first to Emmy-winner Olivia Colman and Season 5’s new QEII, Imelda Staunton. Foy also appears in the cold open of The Crown Season 4 Episode 8 “48:1.” That episode dealt with Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) dueling over how to deal with apartheid in South Africa. The cold open shows Foy’s 21-year-old Elizabeth recording an address to the Commonwealth promising to serve them juxtaposed with shots of a young Margaret Thatcher, née Roberts, (Eva Feiler) blazing a trail at Oxford as the lone woman in a Conservative student group.

So what is Claire Foy doing in The Crown Season 5? Why did The Crown bring Claire Foy back? Here’s everything you need to know about original Crown star Claire Foy’s big Season 5 cameo. Mild spoilers for The Crown Season 5 ahead!


The Crown Season 5 is focused on the 1990s, so why open the season with a flashback to a 1950s black and white newsreel? We see Claire Foy recreating the moment that a young Queen Elizabeth II christened the Royal Yacht Britannia. In her speech, Elizabeth says, “I hope that this brand-new vessel, like your brand-new queen, will prove to be dependable and constant.” Elizabeth herself sets up this metaphor connecting the vitality of the ship with the people’s love of her.

We then cut from this auspicious moment to a much older Elizabeth being examined by a physician. Later in this same episode, Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) discovers that Britannia is in desperate need of expensive renovations. Oh, and a poll comes out that claims the British public is growing tired with the aging Queen and would rather her son Charles take the throne.

So why is Claire Foy there? Well, to not just remind us of who Elizabeth was when The Crown began but to underline that Season 5’s version of the queen is no longer the young and glamorous royal. She, like her ship, has weathered decades of storms and aged accordingly.

Claire Foy isn’t the only actor from past seasons of The Crown to show up in Season 5. Alex Jennings and Lia Williams reprise their roles as the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson in Episode 3 “Mou Mou.” Later Season 1 and 2 footage of Vanessa Kirby and Ben Miles as young Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend are used when the two former lovers reconnect in Episode 4, “Annus Horribilus.” Margaret and Townsend are played in Season 5 by Lesley Manville and Timothy Dalton.

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