‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 2 review: The reign of what was once a gorgeous show stumbles to a kitschy, melodramatic close

After obsessing over Princess Diana for the last couple of seasons, shifting the focus to Prince William and Kate Middleton does the royal soap opera no favours 

Updated - December 18, 2023 06:08 pm IST

Published - December 18, 2023 01:39 pm IST

A still from ‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 2

A still from ‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 2

The most moving episode in Part 2 of Season 6 of The Crownis ‘Ritz’, where an indomitable Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville), undeterred by a series of strokes, insists on celebrating her 70th birthday at Ritz. The affection and regard the sisters, Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton) and Margaret, share is fraught with grace and dignity. Staunton is magnificent and holds the show together, bringing gravitas and nobility to a show that has frittered away all the glittering currency of the previous seasons to become a shallow soap opera.

Margaret’s refusal to cow down even as her body deserts her “one limb at a time” is heartening as is the fictional night at Ritz where the teenage Elizabeth (Viola Prettejohn) and Margaret (Beau Gadsdon) celebrate the end of World War II in grand style with jitterbug and jazz.

The rest of the season deals with Prince William’s (Ed McVey) difficulties in dealing with his rockstar status with the attendant screaming girls, university life and his growing feelings for Kate Middleton (Meg Bellamy). There is Prince Harry’s (Luther Ford) issues with being the second, his ill-advised costume choice for a party, his troubles with the “whacky baccy”.

The Crown Season 6, Part 2 (English)
Creator: Peter Morgan
Episodes: 6
Cast: Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Lesley Manville, Dominic West, Olivia Williams, Bertie Carvel, Claudia Harrison, Marcia Warren, Ed McVey, Luther Ford, Meg Bellamy
Run-time: 48 - 72 minutes
Storyline: Set between 1997 and 2005, the show covers the events following Princess Diana’s death, the Queen’s jubilee and the budding romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prime Minister Tony Blair’s (Bertie Carvel) wolfish rise and fall from grace, the passing of Margaret and the Queen Mother (Marcia Warren), the enquiry into Diana’s (Elizabeth Debicki) death on the insistence of a conspiracy by Mohamed Al-Fayed (Salim Daw), the jubilee celebrations, which the queen has doubts about, and the marriage of Prince Charles (Dominic West) to his lover and third wheel in the Wales, Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), are also covered.

When preparing for her funeral, before her 80th birthday, the queen wonders if she should step down from the throne to make way for Charles. “The crown does not ask existential questions of itself,” Fellowes (Andrew Havill), the Queen’s private secretary, tells her. After much debate with younger versions of herself (Claire Foy and Olivia Colman), she decides against it.

Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) apart from being a “support and stay” to his wife, the Queen, tries to help Charles with parenting, ruminating about his father as well as his relationship with his children. Princess Anne (Claudia Harrison) continues to be a help and support to her brother, Charles.  

There are endearing touches about the show, like William having tea with “granny” like any university student, only that Granny is the Queen and tea is in a palace! Diana’s ghost looms over the season with Kate buying a magazine from William and Diana in 1996 — also fictional. All these imaginary events built upon the foundation of facts, in this well-mounted and acted show, make them seem factual and will be swallowed as such by all who gaze stupefied at the seductive flickering images on screen.

The Crown serves a purpose—perhaps not the one creator Peter Morgan set out to do, but it shows the power of palatable half-truths and outright fabrication over the fact, which can quite often be mundane, but nevertheless terribly beautiful for being the truth.

The Crown is streaming on Netflix

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