Season 5 of 'The Crown' will reportedly introduce Prince Philip's close friend Penny Knatchbull

By Heather Cichowski

Season 5 of 'The Crown' will reportedly introduce Prince Philip's close friend Penny Knatchbull

The Crown is getting an entirely new cast for season five, after viewers saw Olivia Colman (the Queen), Josh O'Connor (Prince Charles), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana), Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret) and Emerald Fennell (Camilla Parker Bowles) take on roles of the Royal Family in the previous season. In addition to new stars filling the shoes of the British royals, viewers of the hit Netflix show are going to be introduced to some important figures, including Penny Knatchbull.

Penelope, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, will be played by Natascha McElhone in the fifth season of The Crown, according to reports. Although this is the first time that the character will appear on the royals show, Penny (as she is informally known) has a long history with the Royal Family and is a very close confidante. In fact, she is often referred to as the Duke of Edinburgh's "keeper of secrets."

Natascha is an English actress who has appeared across film and television. The 51-year-old's credits include the Kiefer Sutherland drama Designated Survivor, Californication and The Truman Show.

Prince Philip and Penelope Knatchbull at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2007. Photo: © Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The Countess Mountbatten is sometimes referred to as the "second-most important woman in the Duke of Edinburgh’s life" because of their friendship over the decades. She is also close with the Queen. Penny is said to have become involved with the Royal Family through her relationship with Norton Knatchbull, 3rd Earl of Mountbatten after he introduced her to them in 1975.

Penny shared a love of the great outdoors with the Duke of Edinburgh, and he also taught her about one of his passions, carriage driving. Over the years, they were photographed at the Great Windsor Horse Show and enjoying outdoor activities, such as riding on motorbikes.

The countess's close relationship with the Royal Family and Philip was highlighted when she was chosen as one of the 30 people to attend the duke's funeral, after he passed away at the age of 99 on April 9. The limited guest list was due to COVID-19 restrictions that were in effect at the time in the United Kingdom.

The Countess Mountbatten of Burma is seen arriving at Windsor Castle to attend the funeral of Prince Philip on April 17, 2021. Photo: © Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Penelope recently supported Her Majesty at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in July. The two women were photographed smiling and enjoying the equestrian event.

Neither Philip's funeral nor the 2021 Royal Windsor Horse Show will be featured on The Crown because showrunner Peter Morgan has previously stated he envisions the show wrapping up around 2000, and he would not be focusing on recent royal events. The sixth season will be its last.

PHOTOS: Royal events and storylines we could see in season 5 of 'The Crown'

There is so much to look forward to on the forthcoming season of The Crown. Besides Natascha as Penny, the award-wining show will have an entirely new cast, including Imelda Staunton as the Queen, Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip and Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret. Netflix recently teased the first look of Dominic West as Prince Charles and Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in costume.

Not many details of the plot are known, but it is anticipated that this season will cover the Royal Family's lives in the '90s. That leaves many interesting royal events that could be part of the storylines, including the Queen and Prince Philip's royal tour of South Africa and Prince William starting at Eton!

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