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The Crown Season 6 Part 1: What to expect from the first volume of the royal drama series' final season

The Crown Season 6 Part 1 delves into Princess Diana's final days and promises a gripping three-part tragedy.

The Crown Season 6 Part 1: What to expect from the first volume of the royal drama series' final season
The Crown Season 6 Part 1 (1)

Last Updated: 01.01 PM, Nov 15, 2023


The Crown has never been much of a fairy tale, despite its regal veneer. Through the show's first five seasons, creator and writer Peter Morgan has let audiences imagine the actual, often flawed people at the core of the institution, which is the British royal family. Now, Part 1 of Season 6 comes on November 16 with four new episodes, and it will be the final chapter for a series staple: Princess Diana, which stars Elizabeth Debicki again as Diana in the days before her death on August 31, 1997.

Portraying Princess Diana's final days

During an interaction with Tudum, Elizabeth said of coming back for Season 6 that it's a really unique challenge as an actor to portray those days. The uniqueness of the plot is reflected in the season's format. Part 1 consisted of the first four episodes, and Part 2 will premiere on December 14. Alex Gabassi directed the first episode, and Christian Schwochow, who has been with the show for a while, will helm episodes two through four, which he describes as "a three-part tragedy." He cautions that these episodes are unlike anything else in The Crown, like a suspense novel.

If you have seen the trailer, you get a feel of that tense atmosphere that takes off where the Season 5 finale left off, with Diana flying to the south of France to spend the summer holidays with her two kids at the invitation of Mohamed al-Fayed (Salim Daw). Diana states in a voiceover that she doesn't really know how she ended up here—dashing around and losing sight of herself in the process. She thinks that's been the story of her whole life.


It also teases the increasing attention of the paparazzi to Diana, her blossoming romance with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla), and the royal family's difficulty in gauging public sentiment in the wake of her tragic accident. One can also see Elizabeth, dressed only in a blue swimsuit, recreating one of Diana's most iconic images by sitting alone on the yacht's diving board.

Diana's relationships, paparazzi attention, and royal family's struggles

The actor was excited to take fans behind the scenes of the paparazzi photos seen around the world as the series entered one of the most scrutinised and poured-over eras in royal modern history. Re-creating that bikini and that moment, as she put it, felt very sacred and important. It made her think of the time they filmed Season 5's "Revenge Dress" scene. It's as realistic as it gets, but as an actor, Elizabeth also gets to step into that world and find out how she feels about it.

It was bittersweet for Elizabeth to play Diana again and relive those turbulent weeks. She claimed, "It was like coming home." After extensive preparation for Season 5 as Diana, both her physical and verbal reactions came across as genuine. She added that it's a thrill because there was much less recall; it almost felt more normal. But the actor also had to go into some really dark places with the role this season. While filming sequences in Paris, she and Abdalla were aggressively chased by actors playing paparazzi, mimicking the tremendous scrutiny that Diana and Dodi were under as they embarked on their relationship. "It was difficult," she admitted, referring to the mental and emotional strain of recreating those situations. It was dense, extremely frantic, and really intrusive, and one only needs to be there for a minute to know that this is utterly intolerable. But they allowed it, because that turned out to be a crucial element of the plot.

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in a still from The Crown
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in a still from The Crown

Personal connection to Diana's death

Elizabeth, like many viewers, knew from the start how her character's journey would conclude. In reality, she has a direct link to the circumstances of Diana's death. She was seven at the time, and she remembers the burial and the two princes attending it quite clearly from when she was a young child. Her mom was heartbroken, and she was trying to figure out what had happened.

The actor emphasised, however, that honouring Diana's life is just as important to The Crown as honouring her memory in the wake of her death. Because they know where the story is going, one of the things that felt so important to her was making sure that there was real joy, happiness, lightheartedness, and genuine fun on the screen. As the author puts it, that was really the piece he felt that I could control in a way, and that became a real focus.

Diana found the most joy in the times when she and her boys, Prince William (Rufus Kampa) and Prince Harry (Fflyn Edwards), were joking around aboard the yacht in Saint-Tropez. "They're really beautiful kids," Elizabeth said of the two young actors she had the pleasure of working with. They are brilliant, hilarious, and generous people. Having them on set and in her scenes made her a much happier person overall.

Joy and rapport with Khalid Abdalla in engaging scenes

Like Abdalla, with whom she shares some of the season's most engaging scenes, Elizabeth found joy and support in leaning on her co-star. She adores Khalid and thinks he's an amazing actor and the most wonderful person. The actor can't think of anyone else he would rather have it with. The performers' easy rapport helped them develop a shared vision for their characters' dynamic. If one looks at pictures from that era, one of the crucial things that they see between them is physical ease and physical tenderness. 

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed in a still from The Crown
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed in a still from The Crown

Elizabeth is pleased with the legacy of the show she's leaving behind as she prepares to leave it. It's never simple to pull away from a captivating protagonist. She will really miss playing this role. There have been a lot of rough and unpleasant parts of storytelling that she has had to do, but there's also a lot of vividness, beauty, love, and a strong desire to connect with people. It's not a normal part of life, so one can't do it.

The actor now has a deeper respect and affection for Diana, both the iconic figure she portrayed and the real one whose legacy endures; people really saw her. When she chats with people about her while working on the show, and when they talk about the grief they felt at her passing, it's like this extraordinarily radiant being was snuffed out. Trying to build that has been truly a fantastic experience, and she will never forget that glow.

Part 1 of Season 6 of The Crown will be available on Netflix starting November 16.

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