The Crown, which has won 21 Emmy Awards during its run on Netflix and is one of the streamer’s most enduringly popular original series, will soon step down from the throne. The show’s sixth season will be its last telling the story of Queen Elizabeth II and Britain’s royal family in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
The critically acclaimed series has chronicled some six decades of Elizabeth II’s reign, recasting its central characters every two seasons as the show moves through recent history as characters age. Claire Foy played the young Elizabeth for The Crown’s first two seasons and was followed by Olivia Colman in seasons three and four; both won Emmys for their work. Imelda Staunton took over the role in season five and will finish out the show as it moves into the early 2000s.
As with previous seasons, the story of The Crown won’t stray very far from the real-life events it depicts on screen, so what’s to come in season six — including the 1997 death of Princess Diana — isn’t exactly spoiler material. Where the show has excelled in the past, though, is in going inside places the public didn’t see and revealing its characters’ inner lives.
Here is everything there is to know going into the final season of The Crown.
When Does Season Six Premiere?
Unlike past seasons, which were released all at once on Netflix, the final season of The Crown will be split into two parts. The first four episodes premiere on Nov. 16, and the final six of the season — and the series — will follow four weeks later on Dec. 14.
When Does Season Six Take Place?
The final season will cover the years 1997-2005 — but those years won’t be evenly spread across the 10-episode run. The four episodes of part one will be focused on the months leading up to Diana’s death on Aug. 31, 1997, as she and boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash in Paris while being chased by paparazzi, and the aftermath of the crash and criticism of the queen for staying out of sight for several days after it happened. Elizabeth Debicki, who plays the princess of Wales, told The Hollywood Reporter that filming the scenes where Diana and Dodi (Khalid Abdalla) were hounded by paparazzi were harrowing: “You only have to experience it for like 10 seconds before you realize it’s completely bizarre and a horrendous experience to find yourself in. You’re really trapped.”
Part two will be more expansive, with the final six episodes spanning several years and touching on events including Prince William’s return to Eton after his mother’s death, Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005 and the early stages of William’s relationship with the woman who will become his wife, Kate Middleton.
Who’s in the Cast?
The major players of season five return to finish out the series. In addition to Staunton, Debicki and Abdalla, season six’s returning cast includes Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Dominic West as Prince Charles, Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret, Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles, Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne, James Murray as Prince Andrew, Marcia Warren as the Queen Mother, Salim Daw as Mohamed Al-Fayed and Bertie Carvel as Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Additions to the cast include Rufus Kampa and Ed McVey as the younger and older versions of Prince William, Fflyn Edwards and Luther Ford as younger and older Prince Harry, and Meg Bellamy as Kate Middleton.
Who Is on the Creative Team?
Peter Morgan is the creator and showrunner of The Crown. He has previously written other works about Queen Elizabeth II, including 2006’s film The Queen — which chronicles some of the same events as those in season six of The Crown — and The Audience, a play about Elizabeth II’s meetings with 12 different prime ministers over the course of her reign.
Morgan executive produces the series with Suzanne Mackie, Andy Harries, Stephen Daldry, Matthew Byam Shaw and Robert Fox. Directors for the final season are Alex Gabassi, Christian Schwochow, Erik Richter Strand and May el-Toukhy. Daldry, who helmed the first episode of The Crown and has been an EP for the entire run of the series, directed the series finale.
Is This Really the End?
Yes. Morgan initially planned for the series to run six seasons, each one covering roughly a decade in Elizabeth II’s reign, which began in 1952. In January 2020, however, he said that in starting to break stories for season five, “it has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop.” A few months later, however, Morgan reversed course: “As we started to discuss the storylines for series five, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story, we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons,” he said.
One thing that has remained consistent is Morgan’s intent to close the series in the early 2000s and not chronicle the final years of the queen’s life, which included Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle and their subsequent separation from the royal family and scandals surrounding Prince Andrew. “You need at least a decade, in my view, to separate yourself from the events that you’re writing about,” Morgan said on THR’s TV’s Top 5 podcast earlier in the show’s run. “Something has already happened that I think is the end, but you can’t ever say what the end is because things change and the minute things change historically, you begin to have to respond in some shape or form, even in your thinking.”