All the portrayals of the major royals in The Crown, ranked from worst to best
Bring back Josh O’Connor as Charles NOW
With The Crown now hitting its fifth season on Netflix, we’ve spanned decades of Queen Elizabeth II’s family history and reign – and with those decades passing, a whole host of top level acting talent have been cast in the roles of a lifetime. Everyone has an opinion on who plays characters like Queen Elizabeth, Charles, Philip and Diana the best – but this is my personal ranking of all the portrayals of major royals in The Crown, ranked from worst to best.
17. Vanessa Kirby as Margaret
I cannot remember a thing about Vanessa Kirby’s Margaret, and for that reason she’s fell to the bottom of the list.
16. Dominic West as Charles
Something about Dominic West as Charles isn’t hitting right. It could be that he’s just too bloody handsome to ever be lumped with the now King. It could be that his predecessor was so good at the role that he just can’t meet expectations. Or it could be that Dominic West is just Dominic West and no one can actually see past that. Who knows!
15. Emerald Fennell as Camilla
Whoever does the Camilla wigs for The Crown deserves millions of pounds because they always absolutely nail it. I think Emerald Fennell does a solid job as Charles’ one true love, but doesn’t get the same level of meaty stuff to work with that her successor does in season five.
14. Erin Doherty as Anne
Erin Doherty deserves flowers for her role as the Queen’s only daughter, mostly because she was influential in the global realisation we’ve all had that Princess Anne is a ginormous vibe. Despite the likeness not quite being there, she’s a terrific actress and it was a shame to see her go at the end of last season – but then her successor ended up being even better. I love this show.
13. Olivia Williams as Camilla
If you told me that Peter Morgan had got in the Tardis and gone back to the early 90s, shoved Camilla Parker-Bowles in there and whizzed her back to 2022 to film season five of The Crown for Netflix I would honestly believe you. It’s spooky. Olivia Williams’ commitment to tampongate surely has earned her an Emmy nod.
12. Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret
I could not think of a better actress to better capture the wild, rebellious and unruly nature of the Queen’s sister than the notorious HBC – but that also is the only drawback. When you cast an actress as famous as Helena Bonham Carter, and an actress as posh as her, it’s hard to unsee the person behind the character. That being said, she does her damnedest to sell the hell out of it.
11. Tobias Menzies as Philip
I truly feel like the Duke of Edinburgh portrayals on The Crown have been stellar across the board, but that Tobias Menzies had the short end of the stick just because of the era of Philip that he ended up with. Some great moments with Emma Corrin in season four, though.
10. Lesley Manville as Margaret
Erm, wow. Lesley Manville steps into the Margaret shoes like she’s been in them her whole life. There’s a jaded scowl she brings to the role that is just magnetic. I’m obsessed with her and so glad we get another season of this iteration of the Queen’s sister. Perfect way to kick off The Crown portrayals ranked top 10.
9. Claudia Harrison as Anne
Claudia Harrison is quite simply a revelation as Anne. She is amazing. Every single thing she does makes me want to cheer every time she comes on the screen. Flirty, rebellious, cheeky, iconic. The jeep adjacent snog whilst the gardeners watched? She nailed it.
8. Jonathan Pryce as Philip
Jonathan Pryce could read the phonebook and I’d give him a Bafta. An iconic old thesp giving it the bigguns as Philip, his chemistry with Imelda is so good. That scene when they debated his relationship with Penny was a highlight of season five and I think he’s absolutely perfect in the role. Formidable and witty.
7. Matt Smith as Philip
I wholeheartedly believe that if Matt Smith’s Philip wasn’t one of the best portrayals on The Crown ranked here, the show wouldn’t have been as huge a hit for Netflix as it was. Matt and Claire had the job of bringing to life an era of the Queen’s reign that most viewers weren’t alive for and they had to make the two feel like we knew them and keep it interesting. They smashed it.
6. Olivia Colman as Elizabeth II
Olivia Colman is one of my favourite actors of all time. She is a truly phenomenal force, and whilst I think of all the portrayals of Queen Elizabeth II ranked here from The Crown she is the least like the monarch, she has some tremendous acting moments and is still a tour de force. Her scenes with Gillian Anderson as Thatcher in season four and the work she did on the Aberfan episode are truly for the history books.
5. Emma Corrin as Diana
Emma Corrin’s Diana was magnificent, in an era where Diana portrayals are coming in left, right and centre. Corrin is my third favourite Diana portrayal ever, behind Kristen Stewart in Spencer and one yet to come. Corrin brings the young Diana to life with such fun and bittersweet sadness. The trip to Africa with Charles episode is some of the greatest acting to ever be seen on The Crown. They are a revelation.
4. Claire Foy as Elizabeth II
Fun fact: Claire Foy and I graduated from the exact same drama course at Liverpool John Moores University. She ended up giving one of the best performances in the history of Netflix, I ended up writing about it. Funny how things work out!
I mean, what more can even be said? Beautiful, elegant, thoughtful and star-making turn as Queen Elizabeth. Truly magnetic and crucial into making The Crown the phenomenon that it is. Wow.
3. Imelda Staunton as Elizabeth II
Imelda is truly formidable as the 90s Queen, and perhaps it’s just because this is the era of Elizabeth that feels the most familiar to me but there’s something about her portrayal that feels note perfect accurate. Everything she says both publicly and privately feels correct to how I imagine the real monarch would be. It’s fantastic. I can’t wait to see where she continues to take us.
2. Josh O’Connor as Charles
Since I first saw Josh O’Connor in God’s Own Country, I knew he was an outstanding actor. As Charles, he is a revelation. Perfectly pouty, bratty, toe-curling, arrogant, selfish. It’s the kind of damning portrayal that I imagine had the now King shaking at his telly watching it. Dom West could not touch this magic.
1. Elizabeth Debicki as Diana
I loved Elizabeth Debicki in Widows. She was the only thing I liked about Tenet. Her casting as Diana threw me off because I couldn’t visualise her in the role or getting the voice right. Turns out I was both blind and deaf, because Debicki’s Diana is so terrifyingly accurate I’m convinced she does it better than Diana Spencer herself actually good. It is wonderful.
I was shocked to read the takes that people thought she was being portrayed as “Smug”, because this Diana is thoughtful, sympathetic, clever and a load of fun. What an amazing performance of one of the most beloved figures in British history. Awards incoming.
The Crown season five is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.