Like The crownThe final season opens with a man walking his dog through Paris late at night, along the Seine. From the setting alone, most of us know what’s coming, whose fate is about to be sealed.
When a car plows past a pedestrian in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, pursued by paparazzi, it’s immediately clear where the focus of Peter Morgan’s series will be: the final season of The crown belongs to Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. Here, The crown finally reaching its Rubicon, the couple’s shocking deaths in 1997 and the royal family’s widely criticized response (or lack thereof) to the tragedy.
‘The Crown’ season 5 preview: Debicki’s Diana reigns supreme amid a monarchy in crisis
After years of reimagining the intricacies and important decisions of the British royal family during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, Morgan’s lavish Netflix series is coming to an end. Season 5 followed the tumultuous early ’90s, when public opinion of the monarchy was in freefall amid the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. But in Season 6, Part 1, the series spends most of its time outside of Balmoral, instead focusing on the media-tortured relationship unfolding on the shores of St. Tropez.
Although the events of the season took place 26 years ago, they still feel resonant, with growing paparazzi talk and the buzz of celebrity media harassment apparently taking over documentaries, memoirs, other series and online conversations. The most disturbing part of The crown (beyond the use of ghosts) erupts from this very place, prompting questions of our own audience that are not easy to answer.
What is The crown Season 6 Episode 1 for?
Prince Harry (Luther Ford), Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Prince William (Ed McVeigh).
Credit: Daniel Escale/Netflix
It’s set in the late 90s and it shines appropriately heavy like George Michael soundtrack season 6 of The crown follows the same time period covered by Stephen Freer’s 2006 film with Helen Mirren The queenbeginning with the election of Tony Blair as Prime Minister in May 1997, months before the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. Unlike The queen (and Michael Sheen’s outstanding performance as the Prime Minister), Blair’s role is largely absent the crown, a shame for actor Bertie Carvel, but a win for audiences who care more about the story of Diana (an impeccable Elizabeth Debicki).
Despite being divorced from the crown prince and self-described as “persona non grata” to the royals, Diana is hounded by press and public attention, much to the dismay and condemnation of the Crown. As the Queen (a superbly stoic Imelda Staunton) explains, “As a divorcee and no longer HRH, Diana is now learning the difference between being officially in the royal family and out.” Meanwhile, Prince Charles (Dominic West) struggles to bolster his and Camilla’s (Olivia Williams) public image by using royal “spin doctor” Mark Boland (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) to make him a “prince of the broad table” as opposed to Diana’s “tabloid princess”.
Prince William (Ed McVeigh), Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Prince Harry (Luther Ford)
Credit: Keith Bernstein/Netflix
Frankly, things are downright boring at the palace, with the most exciting thing to happen being the launch of a new royal website loaded in the middle of a meeting on a dial-up Dell – a meeting where Princess Anne (Claudia Harrison) physically yawns. Although Staunton and West are characteristically brilliant, watching Charles beg for public approval of his love marriage from his mummy feels like we’ve been in this strange confrontation for years.
Instead, the season belongs to Diana and Dodi, whose fate beyond the walls of Buckingham Palace or Balmoral Castle is foreshadowed by Hans Zimmer Crown theme song slowed down to a funeral march.
The crown and the death of the “people’s princess”
Dodi (Khalid Abdallah) and Diana (Elizabeth Debicki).
Credit: Daniel Escale/Netflix
After a superb portrait by roller skater Emma Korin in Season 4, Debicki took over the role of Princess Diana in Season 5 with a truly understated performance via Diana and Charles’ volatile relationshipstruggles with her mental health and her tumultuous relationship with the media.
In Season 6, Diana is caught in an endless cycle of harassment by the paparazzi, a flotilla of photographers constantly perched on the horizon. Debicki’s Diana shines in her brightly colored impeccable ’90s wardrobe of neon swimsuits and oversized Adidas T-shirts on the sparkling seas, punctuating the gray and tartans of the royals grumbling across England’s headlines. A downcast look, a slight smile and flawless delivery, Debicki is in complete control The crownthe interpretation of the princess who tries to use her towering platform to raise awareness of the landmine survivor network and trusts her sons as best friends, a performance similar to that of Spencer’s Kristen Stewart. But there is a sense of foreboding in these images, especially in a recreated image of Diana sitting on a diving boardthe one snapped by the Pope a week before his death.
A shockingly recreated image.
Credit: Daniel Escale/Netflix
The crown in particular, it gives significant space to Dodi himself (Khalid Abdallah), also a victim of tragedy but rarely given as much attention. His father Mohammed Al-Fayed (the sublime Salim Dow) bemoans the erasure of Dodi from British press coverage of their deaths: “It’s like only one person died.”
In episode 3, The crown treats the night of Diana and Dodi’s death as a gruesome puzzle, giving importance to details that have been carefully researched and investigated and revisited ever since. In contrast to these scenes, The crown includes scenes of Prince William (Ed McVeigh) at Balmoral killing his first stag – an obvious if not slightly blatant metaphor for hunters and the hunted.
But in these episodes lies an uncomfortable truth. essentially, The crown doing what every photographer in the world has been trying to do: put you inside the yacht, inside the car. The crownThe audience’s decision to bring the audience closer to Diana and Dodi tonight, through every little moment until their last, stays true to the point of the series – recreating historical moments in the lives of the royal family. But this one feels different. We feel like we’ve become the villains, elbowing our way through the final moments of a couple desperately trying to escape such brutal attention. For six seasons we’ve happily been those voyeurs, eager to glimpse Princess Margaret’s doomed relationship, the Queen and Prince Philip’s early courtship, and the awkward mechanics of Charles and Camilla’s affair, but in this final season the need to be in the room where it happened it suddenly feels wrong.
We need to talk about ghosts
Probably after Diana and Dodi died creatively the choice can divide viewers The crown, namely the use of surrealism to represent conversations between royalty. Yes, ghosts. But not Spencer ghosts.
The crown includes a scene of an imaginary conversation between Charles and Diana on the royal plane and, more provocatively, the Queen and Diana at Balmoral, both wearing her signature black turtleneck from season 5. It is the only part of the entire series of The crown which uses surrealism to delve into the minds of these celebrities, and people will either love it or hate it.
The scene with the queen will inevitably cause the most talk, as the monarch’s decision in The crown to finally come out with a public statement of support directly comes from her conversation with Diana – not with Charles, who has been pressing the case for days. Sitting together on the couch, they watch people in deep grief outside Buckingham Palace on television.
“I hope you are happy now. You finally succeeded in turning me and this house upside down,” the Queen tells Diana, mocking her insistence that this was not her intention. “Look what you’ve started. It’s nothing short of a revolution.”
What does this mean for The crown? In a series where meticulously nailing down every detail has become fodder for fact-checkers, that’s one hell of a curveball. While Diana’s ghost seems a little out of place for the show, where it works better is with Dodi’s ghost, who appears to his father right after his funeral. This scene allows Dow to show Muhammad’s pure, honest frustration and pain at the royal family’s silence as he pleads for his son’s forgiveness – a beautiful performance of a father in deep grief.
The closer to the present, the less necessary The crown receives
Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II.
So where will you The crown to go through here for part 2? Moving into the new millennium, the series will focus on the future king, Prince William, and his fateful meeting with Kate Middleton on the campus of the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 2001. The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the marriage of Charles and Camilla are as exciting to do, so yeah.
how The crown will the royals sign and avoid more recent controversy, it will be interesting to see, especially with the most recent buzz with the release of Prince Harry’s book Spare. In fact, The crown Season 6 Episode 4, appears to allude to public statements made by Prince Harry, especially in a scene where Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) actively warns the young princes to ignore public calls for support as they march behind their mother’s coffin. “Don’t react,” Philip tells William during the march. “Keep your eyes forward or on the ground. Concentrate on the act of walking. One step at a time.”
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The crown it also seems to be hiding conclusions in Diana and Dodi’s relationship, especially when Dodi talks to Diana in episode 3 about the racist abuse she receives in the press for being in a relationship with Diana, with headlines like “Why Di can’t find a nice an English boy?” Sounds familiar.
“I’m getting worse, too,” Diana replies. “They pretend to be your friends and write insult after insult anyway. Makes me want to just move. Start over. Move to another country, somewhere like…”
“California,” Dodi suggests. It’s not subtle.
The closer the series gets to the current titles, the less compelling the series feels, especially as public perception of the royal family continues to change. Season 6 sees the proximity to the present making the series less revelatory the closer we get to the final titles. Beyond that, the royal family’s relationship, role and finances seem too close for TV drama as the ‘system’ continues to be publicly scrutinized – even more so after The Queen’s death in September 2022.
Curious to see what The crown believes that what happened around one of the most defining moments of the 90s should give it a look, though Debicki’s performance alone makes the season worth watching. Without Diana in the second half, Staunton will have to deliver the goods.
But it’s definitely time to The crown to the end.
How to watch: The crown Season 6, Part 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Part 2 will air on December 14th.