Writer Peter Morgan's major career breakthrough came in 2006 with The Queen, the Helen Mirren tour-de-force, where she played the then-living Queen Elizabeth II, based on the real-life events in the aftermath of Princess Diana's sudden death in a car crash in a tunnel in Paris on a hot August night in 1997. Before that, he'd made a small name with a UK-only TV miniseries, The Deal, dramatizing the power-sharing deal between Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, where Michael Sheen played the former.
Sheen reprised his role as Blair in The Queen and then in The Special Relationship, while Mirren reprised Elizabeth in Morgan's Broadway play, The Audience. So when Morgan proposed The Crown to Netflix, a six-season drama taking Queen Elizabeth's story back to its beginnings in the late 1940s, the running joke was the final two seasons would star Mirren. However, that did not happen; instead, the TV version stars Imelda Staunton as the now-late monarch, who did not live to see the final iteration of her reign in Seasons 5 and 6.
However, as the top image from Part 1 of the final season shows, the footfalls from that long-ago film that put Morgan on the map still echo down the years as The Crown comes full circle to that exact moment in history.
Here's the synopsis for the final season:
A relationship blossoms between Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed before a fateful car journey has devastating consequences.
Prince William tries to integrate back into life at Eton in the wake of his mother’s death as the monarchy has to ride the wave of public opinion. As she reaches her Golden Jubilee, the Queen reflects on the future of the monarchy with the marriage of Charles and Camilla and the beginnings of a new Royal fairytale in William and Kate.
The final season cast will star the third and final set of royal cast, with Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II, Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret as the original triumvirate, and Marcia Warren as The Queen Mother. The middle generation features Dominic West as Prince Charles, Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne, James Murray as Prince Andrew, and Sam Woolf as Prince Edward. In royal spouses, Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana, Olivia Williams plays Camilla Parker Bowles, and Theo Fraser Steele plays Timothy Laurence. Part 1 will also feature Rufus Kampa as Prince William and Fflyn Edwards as Prince Harry.
In other prominent 1990s-era figures, Bertie Carvel plays Prime Minister Tony Blair, Lydia Leonard plays Cherie Blair, Andrew Havill plays the Queen's secretary, Robert Fellowes, Salim Daw plays Mohamed Al Fayed, and Khalid Abdalla plays Diana's boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. Reports also suggest previous actors who played Queen Elizabeth II, Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, will reprise their roles, along with Viola Prettejohn as WWII-era Princess Elizabeth. Beau Gadsdon will also play WWII-era Princess Margaret.
The Crown was created and written by Peter Morgan, who also executive produces along with Suzanne Mackie, Andy Harries, Stephen Daldry, Matthew Byam Shaw, and Robert Fox.
The Crown Season 6 Part 1, consisting of the first four episodes, will premiere on Thursday, November 16. Part 2, the other six episodes, will premiere on Thursday, December 14, 2023. Seasons 1-5 are streaming on Netflix.