The sixth season of The Crown is finally here, and director Peter Morgan portrays the last phase of Queen Elizabeth II's reign with an emotionally charged first part. The final season starts in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and delves into the final moments of Diana, Princess of Wales, portrayed majestically by Elizabeth Debicki.
The episodes unfold in the summer of 1997, a year after Diana's divorce from Prince Charles and her departure from the royal formalities. Debicki's portrayal captures Diana's vibrancy and struggles for independence, shedding light on her charity work and the challenges she faced within the royal family.
The narrative adeptly portrays Diana's attempts to embrace freedom amid relentless media scrutiny, juxtaposed with the ambitions of Mohamed Al-Fayed, played by Salim Daw. As Diana seeks vacation in St. Tropez with her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, the season takes viewers on a poignant journey of self-discovery and impending tragedy.
The contrast between Diana's pursuit of escape and Al-Fayed's quest for acceptance creates a tense and vibrant plot, reorganizing the series' grandeur.
While Diana takes centre stage, Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton), Prince Charles, and Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) navigate their roles in the background, dealing with the repercussions of the 'Diana problem'. The season's pace, marked by swift movements through the summer days of 1997, compels viewers to hold their breath, knowing the inevitable fate awaiting the beloved princess.
The final episode of Part I, titled 'The Aftermath', brings the royal family into sharper focus, revealing their more human side amid the looming tragedy.
The episodes of part one delve into the events leading to Diana's tragic death, exploring the immediate aftermath and showcasing the impact on her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. However, as the narrative unfolds, Season 6, Part 1 takes a particularly ghoulish turn, with Diana becoming the sole focus.
The opening scene foretells her tragic car accident, and the closing episode depicts her sons walking behind her casket. These scenarios leave little room for departure episodes, and Queen Elizabeth II's role is reduced to a subplot of jealousy over Diana's international acclaim.
Despite the poignant moments and the clean, elegant staging that The Crown is known for, the season faces criticism for its heavy-handed foreshadowing and morbid references. The earlier episodes recklessly flaunt what will happen in the next episode. Conversations laden with ominous hints about Diana's death feel disingenuous, casting doubt on the authenticity of her final days.
The series becomes so preoccupied with the tragic event that it neglects the development of other characters, relegating Queen Elizabeth II to a passive role.
In the end, Season 6, Part 1 of The Crown bids farewell to an icon and navigates the complexities of the British royal family, leaving audiences eagerly anticipating the conclusion in Part 2, set to release in December.
While the series maintains its visually striking aesthetics, the heavy focus on Diana's demise raises questions about the balance between historical accuracy and dramatic storytelling, ultimately leaving viewers with a mix of wonder and concern as the final chapter unfolds.