Who plays Penny Knatchbull in 'The Crown' season 5?

Wondering where you've seen Natasha McElhone, the actress who plays Penny Knatchbull in 'The Crown', before? Here's what you need to know...

Natasha McElhone as Penny Knatchbull in the Crown Season five/ alongside a portait of Natasha McElhone on a purple and blue background
(Image credit: (L) Netflix / (R) Getty Images: JB Lacroix)

Wondering who plays Penny Knatchbull in The Crown season 5? Here's everything we know about actress Natasha McElhone—from her personal life to her career—plus a debrief on her role as Penny in Netflix's hit series.

If you've not yet tuned into the latest series of The Crown—one of Netflix's most-watched series to date—the show depicts the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and all the events and scandals that transpired. The first season focuses on her marriage to Prince Philip and her coronation and continues on, with The Crown season 4 depicting King Charles' (or Prince as he was known then) marriage to Princess Diana. 

So far, the fifth installment of the Crown has gnarred a lot of attention, from its anticipated depiction of Princess Diana's iconic 'Revenge dress' to the whole 'Tampongate' phone call and the Queen's famous 'Annus Horribilis.'

Plus we have a whole new cast portraying the royals for the latest time jump to the 90s—like Elizabeth Debicki who has taken on the role of Princess Diana from Emma Corrin. We also have a number of new characters entering the fold—namely Penny Knatchbull, who is the focal point of a number of episodes.

So, who is the actress playing Penny? Here's where you might know her from...

Jonathan Pryce as Prince Phillip, Natascha McElhone as Penny Knatchbull in The Crown season 5

(Image credit: Netflix)

Who plays Penny Knatchbull in 'The Crown' season 5?

Penny is played by 52-year-old, British actress Penny McElhone. She was born in 1969 in Walton on Thames, Surrey and left school in 1993 after landing her first lead role in the film Surviving Picasso, opposite Anthony Hopkins.

Throughout her career, she has starred alongside the likes of George Clooney and David Duchovny—and before you ask, no she is not related to Meryl Streep but we get it, the resemblance is uncanny!

What else has Natasha McElone been in?

You might recognize Natasha for her roles in series like Californication, Hotel Portofino, Designated Survivor and most recently Halo—where she plays Dr. Catherine Halsey. She's also starred in a number of movies, including The Truman Show, Solaris, The Other Boleyn Girl, Killing Me Softly and Contagion

Now she's joined the likes of Claire Foy, Olivia Coleman, Helena Bonham Carter and Matt Smith, all of whom have starred in The Crown.

Who is Natasha McElhone married to?

Natasha was married to surgeon Martin Kelly for ten years before he passed away from a heart attack in 2008.

Heartbreakingly, according to the Daily Mail, Natasha received a message from him, recorded just minutes before he collapsed in the hall of their home in London—she was filming in LA at the time and was pregnant with their third child.

Who is Penny Knatchbull in 'The Crown'?

As mentioned, Natasha plays Penelope Knatchbull, aka Penny in the latest installment of The Crown. Penny is the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, having married Norton Knatchbull, the 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma in 1979. Norton is the grandson of Lord Mountbatten, who was Prince Philip's uncle—Norton was also Prince Philip's godson. 

As depicted in The Crown season 5, episode two 'The System,' Prince Philip reached out to Penny following the death of her daughter, Leonora—who died aged five from cancer. They became close friends with Philip also encouraging Penny to start carriage driving, which is something he too was passionate about.

Penelope Knatchbull, Lady Brabourne and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend day 3 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park on May 12, 2007 in Windsor, England.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Max Mumby/Indigo)

The pair formed a close friendship which at the time sparked affair speculation—though there's no evidence to suggest they were anything more than friends, though this is explored in series.

Prince Philip himself once rebuffed the claims, according to the Independent, telling a reporter: “Have you ever stopped to think that for years, I have never moved anywhere without a policeman accompanying me? So how the hell could I get away with anything like that?”.

Naomi Jamieson
Lifestyle News Writer

Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team, where she covers everything from entertainment to fashion and beauty, as well as TikTok trends for Woman&Home, after previously writing for My Imperfect Life and GoodTo. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but lept into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing and earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ.

Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.