Netflix’s much acclaimed series The Crown reporting the supremacy of Queen Elizabeth II, draws to a conclusion, based on a subject still highly sensitive to the British kingdom – the death of Princess Diana. The sixth and final season of the award-winning show is being released in two parts.
The first five episodes premiered on Friday, followed by the final five on December 14th, ending in 60 hours of narrative that began in 2016. The drama covers the late queen’s journey from her 1947 marriage to Philip up to the early 2000s introduction of Kate Middleton, the current Princess of Wales.
This season shows the final weeks of Princess Diana’s life, following her unrestrained divorce from the now King Charles III, leading up to her death on August 31, 1997. Pursued by paparazzi, the BMW carrying Diana and her lover Dodi Al-Fayed crashed at high speed into a pillar in Paris’s Alma tunnel, killing her, Fayed and driver.
The royal family took years to recover after criticism of their reaction to the demise of Diana, whom Tony Blair famously dubbed “the people’s princess”. “It’s a very sensitive subject because it was such a significant event in the life of the monarchy and the royal family, and because people related to Diana are still very much alive, most notably her now-adult sons William and Harry.”
The final season notably recreates Queen Elizabeth’s rare live televised address from Buckingham Palace on September 5, 1997, paying tribute to Diana and addressing the widespread public grief.
“It was an incredibly powerful address to the nation which many people remember,” the actor said. “The significance of that was not taken lightly by anyone involved, and I spent a lot of time listening to recordings of the real speech, as I needed to be as accurate as I could be with the extremely sensitive subject matter.”
A media figure and celebrity friend, Diana gained global popularity by displaying empathy towards the less fortunate. She remains a figure of immense admiration beyond the UK, casting a shadow over the image of Charles and his wife Queen Camilla, who has struggled to fully overcome her reputation as a marriage wrecker.
The season is nervously anticipated by those close to royalty – the family itself has never commented on the series – while early revelations about Lady Di’s portrayal as a ghost have already sparked accusations of disrespect.
This isn’t the first time The Crown has faced criticism, especially as it appeals to Netflix’s younger audience who are learning about some events for the first time. Over the seasons, it has been accused of suggesting infidelities by the queen and Prince Philip, portraying the current king as an unfaithful husband and even suggesting Charles’s desire for his mother’s abdication in the 1990s.
Last year, Netflix added a disclaimer clarifying the show was a work of fiction. Annie Sulzberger, who led the documentary research for the series, acknowledged the sensitivity surrounding Diana in an interview with The New York Times. “People who lived through Diana’s death feel a sense of ownership over that history, a sense of participation, which can colour their perception of it,” she said. “With recent history, you’re constantly battling with people’s intimate and personal perspectives.”