The Ending of The Crown, Explained

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Summary

  • The final season of
    The Crown
    explores the controversies surrounding Prince Charles, including his affair with Camilla and divorce from Princess Diana.
  • The show addresses Charles’ coronation and his different perception of the monarchy’s future compared to Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The episode focuses on Elizabeth’s self-doubts about her role as Queen and her inner conflict about abdication, ultimately showcasing her resolute dedication to her duties until her death.


How does one wrap up a decade-spanning series? The Crown finally came to an end in the closing days of 2023. The Netflix original series follows the life and career of Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, and Imelda Staunton) over various stages of her run as Queen, from her coronation in 1947 to 2005, about 17 years before her death. Every two seasons saw a new cast portray historical figures as they navigated the various issues of her reign.


The final season, which was divided into two parts, took the series into the modern era, following the death of Princess Diana in part one, with a new batch of Windsors taking center stage, including Princes Harry and William stepping into the limelight as young royalty. As things finally settled after Diana’s passing, Charles looked to the future with Camilla while Elizabeth pondered her future as Queen following the losses of her mother and sister.


Meanwhile, Harry and William begin to understand just how important their images are when one of them finds themselves embroiled in an infamous scandal. But through all this, fans wondered how the show would tackle the death of Queen Elizabeth II after her passing in 2022, especially with the show ending in 2005. Here, we explain the series finale of The Crown.


Here’s What Happened

The Crown

Release Date
November 4, 2016

Seasons
6


Part of The Crown‘s final season saw the Queen take a step back to focus on the other members of the Windsor family, chief among them being her son Charles (Dominic West) and the controversy surrounding his affair with Camilla and his divorce from Diana. The final episode of the series opens with Charles asking his mother’s permission to marry his long-time love, a request Elizabeth was not too thrilled about but agreed to mull over regardless. She was later seen consulting with bishops and her grandsons about the concept, to which all parties reluctantly agreed.


Charles seemed to have his happy ending, but with his real-life coronation happening in the present day, The Crown creators felt they needed to address it, even though the series would not go as far. Charles had become more involved in discussions regarding the monarchy’s future and displayed a clear difference in perception from that of his mother. By allowing him to marry Camilla, Elizabeth makes her son’s coronation a certainty, but doesn’t believe him ready for the throne despite the final episode setting up his ascension.


Meanwhile, the sons of Charles and Diana deal with a different sort of issue. Set to attend a costume party with his brother, William, and Kate Middleton, Harry decided to wear a Nazi costume to the event after asking the pair’s opinions. William saw no slight in the issue, but Kate advised that he cover the swastika. He doesn’t, of course, and photos of him at the event are leaked, leading to the now-infamous scandal. This final season of The Crown showed Harry’s troubled years and how his position played a negative part, and this serves as one of the defining moments.


Related: The Crown: Who Is Uncle Dickie?

The Queen’s Inner Turmoil


Most of the final episode of The Crown revolved around Elizabeth’s (Imelda Staunton) self-doubts about her role as Queen. Since Diana’s death, public favor has turned against the Monarchy, becoming the central focus of the series once again as she reflects on the past and considers abdication to Charles. In reality, the Queen never considered stepping down and was always resolute in serving to the end to fulfill the pact she made with God. Before speaking with Charles about marrying Camilla, Elizabeth and her husband Phillip (Jonathan Pryce) reluctantly begin preparations for their respective funerals as she celebrates her milestone 80th birthday.


While The Crown did not show her death, it did use large-scale models in planning her funeral for the episode. The one featured was created from footage of the actual funeral to show the planning that went into it. However, Elizabeth’s death was not originally going to be a feature in the series finale. The show’s creator, Peter Morgan, always intended for the series to end in 2005, but the Queen’s passing couldn’t be ignored, which occurred before the Season 6 release. Per Screen Rant, they changed the ending of The Crown to add a respectful farewell without having to depict the event.


Related: The Crown Is a Shadow of Its Former Self


In the preparations for her funeral and leading up to Charles’ wedding, fans were delightfully shocked to see Claire Foy and Oliva Colman return as their younger incarnations of the Queen in Elizabeth’s imagination as different sides of her inner conflict. Coleman’s Elizabeth urged Staunton to abdicate the Crown, saying that she had already given everything in service, including her attention to her children. On the other hand, Foy’s Elizabeth urged that she keep going, citing that her reign was taken under oath to serve the people until death and that the woman she was before the crown was forever gone.


In the end, Elizabeth stands resolute in her duties. Charles was not yet ready for the crown, so she carried on until she died in 2022. The episode’s storyline served to bring The Crown full-circle as a series as well. The show started with the young Elizabeth preparing for her coronation and ended 60 years later with her preparing for its end. The final shot then shows Elizabeth leaving King George IV Memorial Chapel flanked by her younger selves, as a bagpiper plays “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep,” the song she had selected for her funeral service. As she leaves, she looks upon a casket with her crown and scepter and leaves the room into a symbolic white light.

Is This the End?

Olivia Colman and Claire Foy as younger Queen Elizabeths stand behind Imelda Staunton's older Queen
Netflix


Creator Peter Morgan made the smart decision to end The Crown in six seasons, and always intended for the show to end with Charles’ marriage to Camilla, as he didn’t want to explore anything ongoing or current. He felt that ending in 2005 would create a sort of buffer between an event that could serve to symbolize the end of the Queen’s historic reign and current events. With two decades excluded, Netflix could put out another season if they wanted plenty to cover. The respective marriages of Harry and William, Brexit, the controversy of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Prince Andrew Scandal, and his and Harry’s resignations from the royal family are among a few of the things yet to be touched on.


Currently, there are no plans for another season of The Crown. The sixth was labeled as the last, and there are no plans to change that. The series was at its best when it revolved around Elizabeth, and she and Phillip were given perfect send-offs without depicting their deaths. Any further would be a disservice.


Stream The Crown on Netflix

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