- The Crown season 6, part 1 focuses heavily on Princess Diana’s story, handling it with sensitivity and showcasing Emma Corrin’s exceptional portrayal.
- The production value of The Crown remains top-notch, with impressive costumes, sets, and Martin Phipps’ score adding to the emotional weight of Diana’s arc.
- While the first four episodes of season 6 primarily revolve around Diana’s death and aftermath, it remains to be seen how the rest of the royal family will come back into focus in the second part.
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Ever since Netflix’s award-winning period drama The Crown announced it would be introducing Princess Diana — and perhaps since even before then — there has been plenty of speculation about how the series would depict the tragic circumstances of her death. From the moment she first appeared onscreen in season 4, then played by Emma Corrin, Diana’s fate has loomed large over The Crown, and with season 6, it finally comes to pass. Coming off the weaker season 5, the show has a lot of expectations to live up to, and based purely on its first four episodes, it mostly meets them. With what will no doubt be its most scrutinized episodes yet, The Crown season 6 gets off to a devastating start with only minor stumbles.
In some ways, The Crown season 6, part 1 feels like a miniseries specifically revolving around the death of Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki). Episode 1 even opens with it, albeit from a distance, before jumping back to the weeks before. There, Diana is preparing for a much-needed holiday with her sons, though it soon proves to be a more fateful trip when she’s thrust into the path of Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla). The Crown Quickly traces their whirlwind courtship through its conclusion with both of their deaths in Paris, the result of a car crash that could’ve been prevented in so many ways. From there, the attention returns to the royal family, as always led by Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton), as they face their grief and reckon with the legacy Diana left behind.
Thought The Crown has always been marketed as Queen Elizabeth’s story, Staunton’s monarch is largely relegated to the background of these episodes, and the same is true for other major characters such as Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) and Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville). One could argue that, as a result of the recent glut of Diana-centric projects, there isn’t anything new to explore with her. However, The Crown treats Diana’s story with sensitivity, even when his actions are less than honorable (such as falling in with Dodi despite knowing he’s engaged). Debicki, already resembling Diana so much, expertly portrays her isolation and frustration with the constant attention she receives from the public. She makes a historical figure who has practically become legend flesh and blood, reminding everyone that, despite her larger-than-life persona, Diana was just as human as the rest of us. The other characters around Diana don’t get as much careful exploration, though Dominic West’s Prince Charles has some excellent moments as he fights to get his mother to respect his true love, Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams).
As Diana’s death gets ever closer, it’s impossible not to feel deep sadness. Creator and showrunner Peter Morgan expertly shows all the ways things could’ve been done differently, from emphasizing that Diana didn’t even want to be in Paris at the time to frequently showing the suffocating nature of the paparazzi. The Crown Practically puts the viewer into Diana’s shoes, with the camera huddling beside her in the back seats of cars or in a jewelry store as the sounds of people shouting and flashing lights push in from the background. There’s been much debate and interest over whether the series would depict Diana’s passing of her respectfully, and by not explicitly showing her crash but instead focusing on the circumstances that accumulated to cause it, it does just that. afterward, The Crown Diana and Dodi keep around in the memories of their loved ones – literally – and reception to that particular trick will likely be divisive. For me, although these moments yield some interesting conversations, it lessened the impact of their deaths.
As always, The Crown‘s production value remains top-notch, from the costumes to the sets. Martin Phipps’ sweeping, lilting score both kicks up the tension when necessary and amplifies the heavy emotions surrounding Diana’s arc. The overall approach can feel heavy-handed and melodramatic, but it isn’t constant. It’s clear the creative team wished to do right by this moment in history, and it tries to present everyone as sympathetically as possible. Even in episode 4, as Queen Elizabeth is steadily refusing to show grief over Diana’s death, her position is presented in a relatively non-judgmental way. That’s just how it’s always been done, The Crown seems to say. Staunton finally gets the chance to do something real in that installment, and it made me wish we had more time to see her. Perhaps in the back half of The Crown season 6, which will continue to press ever closer to present day.
So far, The Crown season 6 feels more like a return to form for the series, albeit one with a one-track mind. Diana’s story takes up all the space in the first four episodes, and while that’s deserved, it will also be interesting to see how the rest of the royal family comes back into focus in future installments. Part 1 is filled with regret and grief, but it isn’t entirely clear what part 2 will look like. This makes The Crown‘s future, which will also be its end, rather exciting. Netflix was smart to split season 6 up; this way, the end of Diana’s story gets its due without (hopefully) consuming what’s left of this impressive show.
The Crown season 6, part 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Part 2 will premiere on Thursday, December 14.
- Release Date:
- Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Imelda Staunton, Matt Smith, Tobias Menzies, Jonathan Pryce, Vanessa Kirby, Helena Bonham Carter, Lesley Manville, Victoria Hamilton, Marion Bailey, Marcia Warren
- Main Genre:
- Biography, Drama, History
This drama follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.
As the 1970s are drawing to a close, Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) and her family find themselves preoccupied with safeguarding the line of succession by securing an appropriate bride for Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), who is still unmarried at 30. As the nation begins to feel the impact of divisive policies introduced by Britain’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson), tensions arise between her and the Queen which only grow worse as Thatcher leads the country into the Falklands War, generating conflict within the Commonwealth . While Charles’ romance with a young Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) provides a much-needed fairytale to unite the British people, behind closed doors, the Royal family is becoming increasingly divided.
- Stuart Howell, Adriano Goldman
- Peter Morgan
- Main Characters:
- Peter Townsend, Prince Philip, Anthony Eden, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Queen Mary, Prince Charles, Princess Margaret
- Andy Stebbing, Martin Harrison, Michael Casey, Andrew Eaton, Oona O’Beirn, Faye Ward
- Production Company:
- Sony Pictures Television, Left Bank Pictures
- Sfx Supervisor:
- John Smith, Chris Stoaling
- Peter Morgan
- Number of episodes: