Season 6 of The Crown, the final season of show creator Peter Morgan’s drama, was released in two parts. The first four episodes arrived on Netflix on 16 November 2023, with the final episodes released on 14 December.


Season 5 was the first season of the royal drama to be broadcast following the deaths of the Duke of Edinburgh on 9 April 2021, and Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022.

The final season brings viewers into the 21st-century story of the Windsor dynasty, with the plotlines ending in 2005.

What historical events does The Crown S6 cover?

The final moments dramatised in season 5 saw Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, both suffering the after-effects of the so-called War of the Waleses, which played out in the British tabloids during the 1990s between the couple’s formal separation (announced by Prime Minister John Major in 1992) and eventual divorce in August 1996.

“The marriage collapsed like a house of cards. Every detail was subject to insatiable scrutiny by the press,” writes historian Tracy Borman.

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During their PR battles, both royals had given primetime interviews that divulged personal struggles and intimate details about their marriage, and by 1997 tabloid interest in the divorced couple – and particularly Diana – was at fever pitch.

The paparazzi interest in Diana – particularly in the summer months of 1997, before her death, aged 36, in a car crash in Paris – is the central subject of The Crown’s opening episodes.

Diana (played by Elizabeth Debicki)
The paparazzi interest in Diana (played by Elizabeth Debicki) is expected to be the central subject of The Crown’s opening episodes. (Image by Netflix)

Previous seasons of the drama have traced and foreshadowed this escalating paparazzi interest, from the press ‘discovering’ Princess Margaret’s relationship with Group Captain Peter Townsend in season one, to Charles and Diana’s 1983 royal tour of Australia and the start of ‘Dianamania’ in season four.

Diana’s final months can be characterised by the fraught balancing act of managing very public demands of royalty with the need for privacy and intimacy, in an age when royal life was being redefined by the clamour of mass media.

Diana’s relationship with Dodi Fayed

The early episodes of season 6 cover Princess Diana’s trip to Saint-Tropez in July 1997, to stay on a yacht owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed (who was then most well known as the owner of Harrods, among other business ventures).

The divorce agreement of the royal couple reached in August 1996 had specified that the couple would share custody of Prince William and Prince Harry. Due to Diana not being an official member of the royal family, she relinquished her title of ‘Her Royal Highness’ but was allowed to keep the title ‘Princess of Wales’.

Diana stayed on the Al-Fayeds’ new luxury yacht, the Jonkial, in Saint-Tropez. She also stayed in the family’s 30-bedroom estate, Castle St Therese, with her sons Princes William and Harry, then aged 15 and 12.

“There was much laughter, horseplay, the norm whenever Mummy and Willy and I were together, though even more so on that holiday,” wrote Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex in his 2023 autobiography Spare. “Everything about that trip to Saint-Tropez was heaven. The weather was sublime, the food was tasty, Mummy was smiling," he writes.

Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed, and Elizabeth Debicki as Diana
Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed, and Elizabeth Debicki as Diana in 'The Crown'.(Image by Daniel Escale/Netflix)

Sometime during the Saint-Tropez trip, it’s believed that Diana began a relationship with Mohamed’s eldest son, Dodi Fayed (though as shown in The Crown season 5, the press of the time reported that Dodi was engaged to American model Kelly Fisher when his relationship with Diana began).

On being introduced to Fayed, Prince Harry wrote that he was "cheeky," but "nice enough."

Following the press’ discovery of Diana’s relationship with Fayed, journalist and author David Barnett noted in 2017 that “there was an obsession with Diana, her every move was checked and documented and filed”.

Paparazzi interest soon escalated to unforeseen heights. “In the months before [her death],” writes Barnett, “she had appeared with almost exhausting regularity on the front pages of the newspapers, and indeed had a profile that today we rarely see among the royals”.

Diana’s campaign against landmines

Diana’s year as a divorced woman “witnessed controversial relationships with surgeon Hasnat Khan and Harrods heir Dodi Fayed,” writes royal historian Sarah Gristwood, “but it also saw the anti-landmines campaign which stands as her lasting memorial.”

In the year following her divorce, Diana began a prominent campaign for HALO Trust, which was first formed in 1988 to combat the devastation caused by landmines and other explosive remnants of war in Afghanistan, which had caused many civilian deaths.

Elizabeth Debicki portrays Diana, Princess of Wales
Elizabeth Debicki portrays Diana, Princess of Wales's anti-landmines campaign in 'The Crown'. (Image by Des Willie/Netflix)

In January 1997, Diana was pictured touring an Angolan minefield in a ballistic helmet and flak jacket, during a Red Cross visit to the country, when she participated in a much publicised walk across a minefield. The drama chooses to focus on her visit to Bosnia in August 1997.

In reality, Diana was criticised by some for her calls for an international ban on landmines, and branded by then Junior Defence Minister, Earl Howe, as a "loose cannon" (he felt her comments were out of step with government policy).

But National Archives documents released in 2020 show that the princess herself dismissed the criticism of her campaign, and also spoke of future plans for a world tour to other heavily mined countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia and Kuwait.

There’s no doubting the profile that Diana brought to the cause. “Shortly after her visit,” reports the Trust’s website, “the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty was signed, calling for all countries to unite to rid the world of landmines.”

Queen Elizabeth II and Tony Blair

As has been the case with every season of The Crown, the new episodes also see a new prime minister. In the final episode of season five, viewers saw Tony Blair elected in a landslide victory for Labour in May 1997.

“There are moments in history when you can feel a nation changing course, and the summer of 1997 felt like one of them,” writes historian Dominic Sandbrook.

“On the first day of May, the British electorate had unceremoniously slammed the door on 18 years of Conservative government, handing Tony Blair’s Labour party the biggest landslide in postwar history. When, in the small hours of the morning, Blair addressed Labour’s election-night party at the Royal Festival Hall, he began with the words: ‘A new dawn has broken, has it not?’”

Recalling his first audience with Queen Elizabeth II, Blair described the late queen as “direct”, and the monarch reportedly denied the invite to call him ‘Tony’.

Queen Elizabeth II, played by Imelda Staunton
Queen Elizabeth II, played by Imelda Staunton in 'The Crown'. (Image by Justin Downing/Netflix)

Blair “was a man of a new generation,” writes historian Francis Beckett, “and his advice on the Queen’s family problems was less appreciated than his predecessor John Major’s had been.”

The Queen also reportedly reminded him of her longevity, remarking that “You are my 10th prime minister. The first was Winston. That was before you were born.”

On Sunday 31 August, three months after his election, Blair was in his constituency home in the northeast of England when he heard the terrible news that Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris.

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales

Diana’s death in Paris prompted an extraordinary outpouring of public grief.

“Outside her London home, Kensington Palace, well-wishers left more than a million bouquets,” writes Sandbrook. “At the family home, Althorp, so many people tried to bring flowers that the police begged them to stay away because the traffic chaos was endangering public safety.”

A mound of flowers for Diana, Princess of Wales
The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in August 1997, prompted an extraordinary outpouring of public grief. (Image by Getty Images)

Press attention at the time also focused on the reaction of the royal family – a subject that Peter Morgan has tackled in his other work, including the 2006 film The Queen.

In reality, the royal family expected to grieve privately at Balmoral, but in the week between her death and her funeral there was an increasing clamour for public involvement in the family’s grief. “Show Us You Care,” demanded one tabloid headline.

The Crown dramatises the tension between the private experiences of leading royals, and the public perceptions of their reaction.

“In the febrile climate of blame – the tears in the street, the mounds of flowers outside her Kensington Palace home, the funeral in Westminster Abbey,” writes Sarah Gristwood, “it was prime minister Tony Blair who found the popular tribute. Diana had been, he said, ‘the people’s princess’.”

When Diana’s funeral was held at Westminster Abbey on 6 September, more than one million people poured into the streets of London, while a further 2.5 billion people watched the worldwide television coverage.

On the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, Sandbrook wrote for BBC History Magazine how the tragic event “remains an obvious landmark in our recent history.”

“Yet the passions that surrounded it – the fury at the popular press, which was thought to have hounded her to her grave; the outcry at the royal family, who were criticised for their reluctance to mourn more publicly; even the enthusiasm for Tony Blair, who saw his public satisfaction rating rise to a record high – have now faded to the point when many feel almost embarrassed to recall them.”

Prince William at school and university

The next instalment of The Crown follows the young princes, William and Harry, and the challenges they faced in the heightened spotlight following the death of Princess Diana.

Ed McVey and Prince William.
Ed McVey and Prince William. (Pictures by Netflix/Getty)

William is shown at Eton, where he chooses to return to his schooling after the death of his mother in August 1997. In reality, the elder son of Charles and Diana fully immersed himself into his time at school, which began in 1995. He became a member of the Eton Society, the elite group of prefects who had the unique privilege of wearing whatever design of waistcoat they wanted.

Harry reportedly enjoyed his time at Eton less than his brother and, always prone to mischief, admitted he wanted to be the “bad boy” at school.

Luther Ford and Prince Harry.
Luther Ford and Prince Harry. (Pictures by Netflix/Getty)

After leaving Eton, both boys kept up the tradition for male royals to go into the military, with Harry completing officer commissioning training at Sandhurst after first spending some time abroad. William joined him there after graduating from the University of St Andrews.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prince William met Catherine Elizabeth Middleton while studying at the University of St Andrews in 2001.

The eldest of three children of businessman Michael Middleton and former air hostess Carole, Kate grew up in a village in Berkshire, and was educated at a series of privately funded schools before taking a degree in History of Art.

Meg Bellamy and Kate Middleton.
Meg Bellamy and Kate Middleton. (Pictures by Netflix/Getty)

When a friend once commented how lucky Kate was to be going out with William, “she is said to have quipped back: ‘He’s lucky to be going out with me,’” writes Sarah Gristwood. It seems that this was a feeling shared by the royal family. “We are so lucky to have her,” Prince Charles told wedding guests when the pair married.

Historian Tracy Borman writes that “theirs is often heralded as one of the most successful royal partnerships in history – as well as the most ordinary.”

“Rather than the pre-determined, delicately-negotiated relationships typical of most other royal marriages – particularly one involving a future king – theirs began at the University of St Andrews.

“Their relationship continued after they had graduated from St Andrews,” writes Borman, “and despite intense speculation that an engagement was imminent, it would be one of the longest courtships in royal history. They eventually married in April 2011, almost ten years after first meeting.”

More than two billion people worldwide are estimated to have watched the wedding.

Tony Blair’s changing reputation

The final series of the drama contrasts the public perception of the monarchy with the popularity of prime minister Tony Blair as the country approached the new millennium.

On screen, viewers see Blair’s handling of the Kosovo War (1998–9), fought between Yugoslav forces under President Slobodan Milošević, and the Kosovo Liberation Army. During the conflict, Blair was determined to stand against Milošević, and worked with US President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin to advocate for NATO forces to bomb Serb forces, who had carried out “the vile oppression” of Kosovo Albanians.

Delivering a speech since known as the ‘Doctrine of the International Community” in Chicago in April 1999, he spoke to the US audience about Kosovo: “I want to put these events in a wider context – economic, political and security – because I do not believe Kosovo can be seen in isolation.

“No one in the West who has seen what is happening in Kosovo can doubt that NATO's military action is justified.”

Blair’s speech laid out an approach to humanitarian intervention that became important in understanding the government’s involvement in other conflicts, including foreshadowing Blair’s later decision to support the invasion of Iraq.

These involvements saw public perception of the prime minister shift – as shown on screen in The Crown , which depicts crowds protesting outside the gates of Buckingham Palace. There were protests against the prime minister’s actions; in February 2003, a march of hundreds of thousands (estimates vary between 750,000 and 1.5m people) protested in London against the looming Iraq war, which would begin in 2003.

Tony Blair (Bertie Carvel) and Cherie Blair (Lydia Leonard) in 'The Crown'
Tony Blair (Bertie Carvel) and Cherie Blair (Lydia Leonard) in 'The Crown'

One juxtaposition in The Crown drawn from real history sees Blair given a hostile reception by Women's Institute (WI) members, at one of the organisation’s conferences in June 2000.

"I try to distinguish between the genuine values which underpin the best of Britain and the attitudes we can safely, rightly leave behind,” Blair told the crowd. “Old fashioned values are good values, but old-fashioned attitudes and practices can sometimes hold those values back.”

As The Crown shows, his speech was not well-received; WI members heckled and slow hand-clapped the speech.

In contrast, the Queen – a long-time member of the WI and great advocate of the organisation – received a warm welcome by the ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ crowd. The WI in Britain was first set up in 1915 to encourage women to grow their own vegetables and preserve food in order to aid the nation on the home front, and the Queen’s presence as a symbol of tradition and duty is shown as appealing to the women of ‘Middle England’.

This historical example is not the only time viewers will see modernity and tradition pitted against each other – arguably a theme that has run throughout all six series of The Crown. In the series, Blair suggests a review of all the royal ceremonial positions that might seem unnecessary to the modern British public. These offices include the Admiral of the Wash (a real, ancient hereditary office within the navy, dating from the medieval era, which granted a nobleman responsibility for defending and protecting the coastal area of the Wash in north east Anglia) and the Warden of the Swans.

Although the content of the Queen’s meetings with her prime ministers remains largely undocumented, and no publicly available review of the royal offices was conducted, it is true that Blair considered the cost of the royals to the taxpayer during his time as prime minister.

In 2000, he signed a deal that froze the size of the civil list (the funding provided by the taxpayer for the upkeep of the royals) for the following 10 years.

The death of Princess Margaret

One episode also tackles the death of Princess Margaret, whom the show has chosen to provide many touchstones in its portrayal of the struggles between duty and personal desire.

The series doesn’t shy away from charting the decline of the Queen’s younger sister. It depicts a grim, and very real, accident that saw Princess Margaret sustain severe scalding from boiling hot bath water, while staying in Mustique with friends.

Princess Margaret’s final episode in the drama also underlines the ever-close relationship between the two sisters, who had lived through war, loss, and in many ways had symbolised the changing face of the 20th-century monarchy.

Lesley Manville and Princess Margaret.
Lesley Manville and Princess Margaret. (Pictures by Netflix/Getty)

In the ‘Ritz’ episode, The Crown recreates a little-known real event when the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, then aged just 19 and 14, ‘escaped’ the palace on VE Day 1945. They were granted permission by their father, King George VI, to join the crowds in London to celebrate (with chaperones).

The Queen recalled the evening in a rare personal interview in 1985 with BBC Radio 4: “We were terrified of being recognised – so I pulled my uniform cap well down over my eyes. A Grenadier officer among our party of about 16 people said he refused to be seen in the company of another officer improperly dressed. So I had to put my cap on normally.”

As shown in the drama, Princess Margaret died in February 2002, at King Edward VII Hospital in London.

“The princess was last seen in public before Christmas 2001 at the 100th birthday party of Princess Alice, the dowager duchess of Gloucester,” writes Anne de Courcy. “Her final years were a sad contrast with the lovely young woman remembered by so many and, by the Queen, as ‘my beloved sister’.”

Soon after Princess Margaret’s death, the Queen also mourned her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who died peacefully in her sleep in March 2002, at the age of 101.

The wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla

The events dramatised in The Crown end in 2005, a year that saw the future King Charles III marry Camilla, now Queen Consort, covering the events of the royal wedding in April 2005.

Olivia Williams, who plays the future Queen Camilla in the drama’s final season, explained how she and Dominic West, who portrays Charles, managed their roles: “That was a challenge for us, to actually keep finding the joy between the two of them and to try and work out what the magical thing is between them that clearly makes them such a happy and successful and supportive and humorous couple now, in this very successful marriage.”

Olivia Williams and Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Olivia Williams and Camilla Parker-Bowles. (Pictures by Netflix/Getty)

At the real reception at Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth II offered a toast to the newlyweds in front of 800 guests, using horse racing references as she welcomed Camilla into the family.

“They have overcome Becher's Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles. They have come through and I'm very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves.”

The Queen’s plans for her funeral

In its final episode, The Crown dramatises Queen Elizabeth II’s role in planning ‘Operation London Bridge’, the real codename for her funeral.

The Queen really was involved in these plans for her final ceremony, and a number of her decisions reveal intriguing nods to the 17th century, writes Alice Hunt.

“Hubert Parry’s music for the song ‘My Soul, There Is a Country’ was composed during the First World War, but the words are by Welsh royalist poet Henry Vaughan, written in the 1650s when there was no king,” writes Hunt. “The text used for Psalm 23 was from the Scottish psalter of 1650, compiled by the Puritan Francis Rous. And the poet John Donne (1572–1631) provided the words for the prayer “Bring us, O Lord God, at Our Last Awakening”.

The final moments of the drama foreshadow the Queen’s death at Balmoral Castle on 8 September 2022 aged 96, and her funeral, an event of unprecedented scale that was watched on UK television by 29 million people.

The drama chooses to end the show with the Queen’s choice of ‘Sleep Dearie, Sleep’, the same piper’s lament that concluded the Queen’s funeral in reality at Westminster Abbey on 19 September 2022, bringing the second Elizabethan age to an end.


How to watch The Crown Season 6

Season 6 is available to watch on Netflix now.


Elinor EvansDigital editor

Elinor Evans is digital editor of She commissions and writes history articles for the website, and regularly interviews historians for the award-winning HistoryExtra podcast