After three queens and six seasons, The Crown will draw to a close this winter, with the final installment of Peter Morgan’s frequently soapy, always polarizing drama due to hit Netflix in two installments. The first, consisting of four episodes, premieres on November 16, revisiting Diana, Princess of Wales’s final months as well as the royal family’s reaction to her axis-shifting death. If British monarchists (and the tabloids they read) have taken issue with Morgan’s decision to rehash the near-institution-toppling tension between Diana and the Windsors in recent seasons, then this season will, inevitably, prove the most controversial yet—not only recreating the actual death of the People’s Princess in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, but the personal trauma and public failings of both King Charles III and the late Queen Elizabeth II in its aftermath, to say nothing of the impact of Diana’s passing and funeral on the young Princes William and Harry.
Ahead of Season 6: Part I’s release, Vogue breaks down the best episodes of The Crown to date.
Season 1, “Hyde Park Corner”
Regardless of your political stance on the royal family, there’s something uniquely moving about the scene in which a 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth learns that her father, King George VI, has died, making her a bereft daughter and Elizabeth Regina in a single stroke. Claire Foy and Matt Smith are at their absolute best here, wordlessly communicating the crushing weight of their grief and the heavy burden of their duty as they gaze at each other across the plumeria-filled gardens of Kenya’s Treetops. The message is clear: Heavy is the head that wears the crown, a fact underscored as the newly anointed monarch is draped in black crepe and mourning pearls on the Royal Plane while reading a letter from her grandmother, Queen Mary: “Dearest Lilibet, I know how you loved your papa, my son. And I know you will be as devastated as I am by this loss. But you must put those sentiments to one side now, for duty calls. The grief for your father’s death will be felt far and wide. Your people will need your strength and leadership. I have seen three great monarchies brought down through their failure to separate personal indulgences from duty. You must not allow yourself to make similar mistakes.”
Runner-up: “Pride & Joy,” if only for the glimpse of the making of a royal tour wardrobe.