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The Crown: A Comprehensive Guide to the Final Season of Netflix's Drama

From the fresh faces playing William and Kate to its depiction of Diana's death, here's everything to know about Season 6 of The Crown.
  • Meg Bellamy and Ed McVey in The Crown Season 6 (Photo: Justin Downing/Netflix)
    Meg Bellamy and Ed McVey in The Crown Season 6 (Photo: Justin Downing/Netflix)

    It's a season of change for both The Crown and the British monarchs at its center. Later this year, the critically acclaimed Netflix drama will come to an end after six seasons and multiple cast overhauls. The Crown Season 6 will bring Queen Elizabeth II's reign into the 21st century as it dramatizes the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the early days of Prince William and Kate Middleton's romance, Prince Charles' public relationship with longtime lover Camilla Parker Bowles, and the country's shifting attitude towards the monarchy.

    Meanwhile, Charles III and Camilla were formally crowned as king and queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms on May 6. The coronation — the first such anointing of this century — came eight months after the death of Charles' mother Elizabeth II, whose historic reign inspired The Crown's six-season arc.

    As the British monarchy navigates this new era, now is an ideal time to begin looking ahead (or in this case, back) to the final season of The Crown. From new cast members to the controversy surrounding the show's depiction of Princess Diana's death, here's everything we know about The Crown Season 6.

    When Does The Crown Return?

    The Crown will go out in style with a two-part season: Part 1 premieres on November 16, followed by Part 2 on December 14.

    Filming on The Crown Season 6 began in early September 2022 and continued for many months (though creator Peter Morgan paused production out of respect for the Queen's death on September 8, 2022). In March 2023, Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy, who play Prince William and Kate Middleton as young adults, were spotted filming in St Andrews, Scotland, so the show's editors were likely crunched for time when it came to completing the season.

    How Many Episodes Will There Be in Season 6 of The Crown?

    10 episodes remains the magic number for The Crown. Part 1 consists of four episodes, while Part 2 will unfold across six episodes. The death of Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) serves as a demarcation line between the installments: The first four episodes depict Diana's relationship with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla) and their fatal car crash, and the second half of the season follows Prince William and the Queen as they attempt to return to normal life in the wake of the tragedy.

    What Is The Crown Season 6 About?

    Photo: Netflix

    While The Crown Season 5 dramatized Princess Diana and Prince Charles' (Dominic West) contentious separation over the course of the 1990s, the final season will focus primarily on Diana's death and the aftermath. Seeds of this storyline were planted in Season 5 when Diana befriended Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed (Salim Daw) and joined him for a summer vacation aboard his yacht in Saint-Tropez. In real life, it was there that Diana began dating Al-Fayed's son, Dodi Fayed; just one month later, on August 31, 1997, Diana and Dodi were killed in a car crash in Paris that left their families, and the public, stunned and grieving.

    Beyond Diana's tragic death, The Crown Season 6 brings the saga of the British monarchy into the new millennium. The final season will feature storylines about William and Kate's time at the University of St Andrews, Charles and Camilla's (Olivia Williams) marriage, and Tony Blair's (Bertie Carvel) tenure as Prime Minister. Given the timeline, it will also include the deaths of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (Marcia Warren) and Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville), both of whom died in early 2002, the global reaction to the 9/11 attacks, the Queen's Golden Jubilee, and Prince Harry's (Luther Ford) drug use as a teen, which he discussed in his recent memoir, Spare.

    On October 26, Netflix released an official Season 6, Part 1 trailer that previews the major historical moments that will be dramatized throughout the season:

    When Is The Crown's Final Season Set?

    The Crown Season 6 takes place from 1997 to 2005. The action begins in the immediate aftermath of the Season 5 finale, which saw Diana and her sons (Senan West and Will Powell) sail towards Al-Fayed's yacht, and continues throughout the summer of 1997, leading up to Diana's death. Additional episodes will carry the show through 2005, when William and Kate began their own royal romance.

    Will The Crown Show Princess Diana's Death?

    Though The Crown will not explicitly show Princess Diana's death, Season 6 will chronicle the events directly before and after the fatal collision. In October 2022, Netflix confirmed that the "exact moment of the crash impact will not be shown," with a source explaining to Deadline that the episode will include "the run-up" — including Diana and Dodi's car leaving The Ritz Carlton "with paparazzi in pursuit" — and "the aftermath with the British Ambassador to France swinging into action with the Foreign Office and then the subsequent constitutional aftermath."

    However, in December 2022, controversy erupted when The Sun reported that The Crown's depiction of the aftermath is "terribly upsetting." Sources told the British tabloid that Elizabeth Debicki was asked to "climb into a coffin and play dead as Diana." Viewers will reportedly see "a French priest administering the last rites for Diana as she is pronounced deceased," as well as a scene of Charles telling French officials to find his ex-wife's missing earring. As one source said, "The bosses went way over the top to chase ratings. Everyone was very uncomfortable doing the shoot. It is obscene and should be banned from broadcast. There were conversations on set between cast members visibly upset at what they were being asked to do."

    The cast and crew have defended the show's depiction of Diana's death. "Peter [Morgan] and the entire crew of this job do their utmost to really handle everything with such sensitivity and truth and complexity, as do actors," Debicki said last year. Dominic West agreed, explaining, "It's a heavy, heavy responsibility to get it right and something I think we all take pretty seriously."

    Which Cast Members Are Coming Back?

    Photo: Netflix

    The entire Season 5 cast is set to return for the final season of The Crown. Imelda Staunton reprises her role as Queen Elizabeth II, now in her 70s and 80s, while Jonathan Pryce stands by her side as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Beyond Debicki, West, and Olivia Williams, who is primed to take on a larger role now that Camilla and Charles can freely be together, Lesley Manville returns as Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister. Salim Daw and Khalid Abdalla also reprise their roles as Mohamed Al-Fayed and Dodi Fayed, respectively.

    Other supporting actors coming back for Season 6 include:

    • Bertie Carvel as Prime Minister Tony Blair and Lydia Leonard as wife Cherie Blair
    • Andrew Havill as Robert Fellowes, the Queen's private secretary and Diana's brother-in-law
    • Marcia Warren as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
    • Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne and Theo Fraser Steele as Timothy Laurence, Anne's second husband
    • James Murray as Prince Andrew and Sam Woolf as Prince Edward
    • Will Powell as young Prince Harry

    Who Plays William and Kate in The Crown?

    Dominic West's son Senan West played young Prince William in Season 5, but in the final season, he will be replaced by Rufus Kampa and Ed McVey. Kampa will play teenage William, who was 15 when his mother died, while McVey will portray the college-aged prince. The Crown marks both actors' TV debuts, but they have extensive stage experience: Kampa made his professional West End debut in Sue Townsend's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole 13 & 3/4s: The Musical, and McVey graduated from the Drama Centre London in 2021.

    Newcomer Meg Bellamy stars opposite McVey as Kate Middleton, who met Prince William while studying art history at St Andrews in Scotland. They first crossed paths in 2001 but didn't begin dating until two years later; after a lengthy courtship, they married on April 29, 2011. Following the Queen's death and Charles' ascension to the throne in September 2022, the royal couple became the Prince and Princess of Wales, with William stepping up as heir apparent and Kate his likely queen consort.

    Who Else Is New to The Crown?

    Joining The Crown's young cast is Luther Ford as Prince Harry, who was 12 at the time of Diana's death. The red-headed actor, who will be splitting the role with Powell, won the part after Netflix issued a casting call for actors between the ages of 16 and 20 to play the teenage prince.

    Season 6 will also include a flashback to young Elizabeth and Margaret celebrating Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945. Victoria Prettejohn (The Nevers) is stepping in as the soon-to-be Queen (Elizabeth was 19 when Germany surrendered in World War II), and Beau Gadsdon, who played Margaret in flashbacks in Seasons 1 and 3, will reprise the character at 15 years old.

    Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Be in the Final Season?

    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle didn't begin dating until 2016, which means it's all but certain that the future Duchess of Sussex will not make an appearance in The Crown Season 6. However, Markle's first TV role came in a 1995 episode of Married... with Children, and she worked steadily throughout the early 2000s, so maybe Morgan will nod to the current drama consuming the British monarchy and have Markle's 2001 General Hospital appearance playing on a TV in the background.

    Will The Crown Pay Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II?

    Netflix's critically-acclaimed drama is going all out with "the ultimate tribute" to the late Queen. In addition to Staunton's elderly Queen and Prettejohn's V-E Day depiction of Elizabeth, Claire Foy, who played the Queen in Seasons 1 and 2, and Olivia Colman (Seasons 3 and 4) will reprise their royal roles in the final season.

    "Netflix are playing a clever hand with these four queens, bringing the story of Her Majesty to a sensational end after telling virtually all of her life story over 60 episodes," an insider told The Sun. "It also indicates the respect and affection which the creators have for the late monarch, even though they might not feel the same way about the royals as an institution."

    Here's Your First Look at The Crown Season 6

    Elizabeth Debicki as Diana (Photo: Netflix)

    Elizabeth Debicki, Will Powell, and Rufus Kampa (Photo: Netflix)

    Dominic West, Rufus Kampa, and Fflyn Edwards (Photo: Netflix)

    Elizabeth Debicki and Khalid Abdalla (Photo: Netflix)

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    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: The Crown, Dominic West, Ed McVey, Elizabeth Debicki, Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Lesley Manville, Meg Bellamy, Olivia Williams, Rufus Kampa