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Netflix's The Crown ending explained - everything you missed from the series finale

The last six episodes of The Crown offer Tony Blair, Kate Middleton, Harry vs. William, and reflections on monarchy and mortality

This article contains major spoilers for the last six episodes of The Crown.

After seven years and 60 episodes representing almost 60 years in the life of the Royal Family, The Crown has released its final episodes on Netflix, with six final episodes depicting the story of the British monarchy from the 1997 death of Princess Diana to the 2005 marriage of Princes Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles.

The series, which has generated great praise and passion for Queen Elizabeth over the course of its run, fell on slightly harder times the last two seasons with its never-ending battles between Prince Charles and Princess Diana. But with the death of Princess Diana at the end of the first half of season 6, released November 16th, the last six episodes turn their focus both forward to the next generation of the Royal family, and back to the legacy of Queen Elizabeth (and the show).

Interested in how it all turned out? We’ve got all the answers.

Does Queen Elizabeth die in the The Crown ending?

Yes (sort of). The early part of the last episode of The Crown centers on Queen Elizabeth (played by Imelda Staunton) being told of the preparations for her funeral, preparations which inspire her to consider whether or not she should retire.

At the very end of the episode, as she prays in St. George’s Chapel after the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles (Dominic West and Olivia Williams), a bagpiper begins to pipe 'Sleep, Dearie Sleep,' the song that she requested for her funeral. And turning, she contemplates her casket.

As she begins to leave the church she is joined for a moment by her past selves. Then she walks through the empty church to the doors, which open onto a bright light.

Do Claire Foy or Olivia Colman appear in The Crown ending?

Claire Foy and Olivia Colman do indeed appear in the final episode of the Crown. As Queen Elizabeth contemplates the possibility of retiring, Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth shows up to push her to do it, arguing she’s done her duty and Charles is ready.

Later, as the Queen prepares to announce her retirement at Prince Charles’ wedding reception, Claire Foy’s Quee Elizabeth shows up to remind her she took a vow to stay in the job for her whole life, and points out she’s actually far better at it than anyone else in her family. In a poignant moment, the Queen asks tearfully, “What about the woman I put aside when I became queen?” Foy responds, “If you went looking for Elizabeth Windsor, you wouldn’t find her. She’s gone. Long gone. You buried her years ago.”

The two past queens return at the very end, as well, as does Viola Prettejohn, who plays a teenage Elizabeth in an earlier episode.

Is Princess Diana in the Crown finale?

Though Princess Diana died at the end of the first part of season six, she does appear in a number of flashbacks in the final episodes of The Crown.

Her death also hangs over the final six episodes. Episode 605 explores Prince William’s struggle to deal with his grief and anger over his mother’s death. The penultimate episode explores the accusations made by Mohamed Al-Fayed (Salim Daw) that his son Dodi and Princess Diana were murdered by the Royal Family. And the finale sees the Royal Family and the Church of England wrestling with Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Does anyone else from past seasons appear in the Crown finale?

In a number of episodes, home videos show Matt Smith with a baby Prince Charles.

Who else dies in the Crown finale?

While it feels a little weird to think about The Crown as having a body count, in fact a number of major characters die in the final six episodes. The Queen’s sister Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville) has a series of strokes in episode 608, at the end of which she dies. The Queen Mother dies at the start of episode 609. Also, the Queen’s racing manager and good friend Porchey (aka Henry Carnarvon, Lord Porchester) has a major heart attack and dies offscreen in 608.

Does the Crown ending explore the conflicts between Harry and William?

The final episodes do explore some of the roots of the conflict between Harry and William, now played by Luther Ford and Ed McVey. Early on Harry is the “lovable rogue” trying to help William, who is both grieving and overwhelmed by the attention he begins to get following the death of Diana.

Later on conflicts emerge, as Harry struggles with the way the press paint him as the black sheep and William the hero. Deeper rifts emerge in the finale over the queen’s agreement to allow their father to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles. The Queen speaks to the boys about the possibility. Hearing William give his blessing, Harry expresses his disgust, calling his brother “a company man” while William dismisses Harry as immature.

Harry being photographed wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party— a choice William had supported—only exacerbates the tension between them. In the end the two reconcile, but the Queen advises William to look after Harry, as it can be very hard to be “the number two.”

Does the Crown introduce Kate Middleton or Meghan Markle?

The Crown ends in 2005, more than a decade before Prince Harry met Meghan Markle.

But the last six episodes do introduce Meg Bellamy as Kate Middleton. As a teenager Kate and her mother have a chance meeting with William and Diana. Seeing the infatuation that Kate has for William, her mother (Eve Best) becomes obsessed, following his whereabouts in the years that followed and pushing Kate to take a gap year and attend St. Andrews rather than the Edinburgh University, after William announced the same.

The two end up meeting in class at university and eventually begin dating. By the end of the series, Kate is living with William and his friends.

Is it true that Kate Middleton’s mother Carole was trying to get Kate and William together?

While there is no hard evidence to prove that Carole Middleton was organized her daughter's relationship with Prince William, as the Crown suggests, it is true that Kate changed schools from Edinburgh University, the place where her friends were going, to St. Andrews after William announced the same, and took a gap year which involved her being in a number of places where William was also supposed to be.

In her book on the royal family The Palace Papers, Tina Brown argues that these moves were orchestrated at least in part by the now-Princess’ mother.

Did William really hurry back from Kate Middleton’s house to be with the Queen on the balcony at her Golden Jubilee?

No. While the show depicts William spending the first part of the Jubilee with Kate’s family, and then hurrying back, in fact he spent the Jubilee days with the Royal Family. As Prince Harry writes in his memoir Spare: “Over four days that summer of 2002, Willy and I were constantly pulling on another set of smart clothes, jumping into another black car, rushing to yet another venue for another party or parade, reception or gala.”

Is Tony Blair in The Crown finale?

The final six episodes of The Crown track Tony Blair’s trajectory from the most popular prime minister since Winston Churchill to a hated figure after the invasion of Iraq.

In one of the final six episodes’ most fascinating stories, the Queen approaches Blair to advise her on how the Royal Family could better connect with the British people. After consulting with his staff Blair comes up with a series of modernizing measures, including firing a great deal of the monarchy’s supplementary (and seemingly absurd) staff, like the Warden of the Swans, the Queen’s Herb Strewer, or the Lord High Admiral of the Wash.

However, in interviewing these staff members, the Queen is surprised to find that rather than dead weight they represent a collected wisdom and pride that is at the heart of what is good about the monarchy. “Tradition is our strength,” she concludes.

Having made his name on the international stage gathering support against Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, Blair is depicted getting drawn into the war in Iraq by the United States, which ends up blowing up in his face following revelations that Iraq did not in fact have weapons of mass destruction. The series finale shows the formerly-beloved Blair being hounded by protesters and trying to convince the Queen that the situation in Iraq is improving.

Did Queen Elizabeth ask Tony Blair for help with her popularity?

Both in The Crown and in his earlier film The Queen, writer Peter Morgan depicts Queen Elizabeth needing Prime Minister Tony Blair’s help in regaining the public’s confidence in the royal family.

While many have pointed to Blair’s staff as being responsible for the softening of the monarchy after Princess Diana’s death, Blair himself has disputed the level of his involvement, noting that the Queen herself recognized the need for change in the wake of Diana’s death: “She really didn’t need me to tell her,” he told the Today show in 2022. “She sensed it, and then she responded. And when she responded, she responded perfectly. She got the tone absolutely right.”

Was Prince Harry really angry that Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles?

In the final episode of The Crown, Prince Harry quite clearly hates the idea of his father marrying Camilla Parker-Bowles.

In his memoir, Prince Harry says that both he and Prince William urged Prince Charles not to marry Parker-Bowles. But he also says he supported their father’s choice to go ahead: “Despite Willy and me urging him not to, Pa was going ahead. We pumped his hand, wished him well. No hard feelings. We recognized that he was finally going to be with the woman he loved, the woman he’d always loved.”

While The Crown depicts Parker-Bowles as repeatedly pushing Charles to be a better father to his sons, Prince Harry alleges in Spare that she converted his bedroom into her private dressing room, and that Prince Charles used her publicist to leak stories of Harry’s drug use in 2002 so as to garner public sympathy for himself.

Did Prince Harry actually wear a Nazi uniform?

Yes, as part of a “Colonials and Natives”-themed costume party for a friend’s birthday, Prince Harry wore a Nazi uniform. In the Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan, Prince Harry says his choice to dress as a Nazi “was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.” In Spare he writes, “There were moments over the next several weeks and months when I thought I might die of shame.”

Did Prince Philip really call the costume shop to complain that Harry’s Nazi costume was inaccurate?

In The Crown, Prince Philip’s response to the photographs of Harry dressed as a Nazi was to call the costume shop and complain that their uniform was inaccurate—“The German Africa Korps never wore swastikas.”

While there is no evidence to suggest he actually did make such a call, the moment is emblematic of a series of tone-deaf comments Prince Philip made as the Duke of Edinburgh.

Was Queen Elizabeth really not at the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles?

Yes. In her role as the head of the Anglican Church, Queen Elizabeth was advised by the Church of England that it would be inappropriate for her to attend the wedding of Charles and Camilla, as each was divorced. The ceremony was also not allowed to take place in a church, as depicted in the series. Instead, they had a civil ceremony followed by a blessing at St. George’s Chapel, at which the Queen was present.

Also as depicted in the series, Charles and Camilla were made to do an act of public penitence at the blessing ceremony, reciting a 1662 act of penitence along with the entire congregation in which they “acknowledge[d] and bewail[ed] our manifold sins and wickedness” and “earnestly repent.”

Did Queen Elizabeth give a funny speech at Prince Charles’ wedding reception?

Yes. Though Queen Elizabeth was generally known for her stiff speaking style, a characteristic depicted repeatedly in the Crown series, at her son’s second wedding the Queen did indeed give a speech that “had everyone in stitches,” according to the former royal butler. “I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is the best comedy act I've seen in years.’”

Did Queen Elizabeth intend to retire at Prince Charles' wedding?

While it is completely believable that she would have considered retiring at some point, there’s no evidence to suggest she ever prepared such a speech or spoke to anyone about the possibility of retiring.

Did the Queen actually choose the bagpipe tune “Sleep, Dearie Sleep” for her funeral?

While the Queen was consulted on every element of her funeral, as depicted in the Crown, there is no evidence that she actively chose that song to end the funeral, or that she consulted with her piper about it.

However, we do know that that song was very familiar to her. In fact she awoke to it every morning: it was part of a set of songs the Queen’s piper would play outside her Queen’s window each morning.

In the end, was The Crown in favor of the monarchy?

While over the course of its six seasons The Crown certainly has humanized the monarchy and offered often painful meditations on the sacrifices undertaken by the royal family, its final thoughts on the British royals are pretty devastating. Even as the Queen advises William to look out for his brother she has no trouble completely ignoring him when the need arises, in a moment reminiscent of her treatment of Charles.

Likewise, though Charles wants to care for his boys, he seems incapable of seeing himself as their father, whose own plans and feelings need to be sacrificed at times for them.

The relationship between William and Harry has already started to fracture by the time the series ends. At one ugly moment the haunting notes that always played when things were going bad with Diana suddenly swell for the first time like an alarm bell.

Meanwhile Kate Middleton, like so many in the series before her, seems at least as much guided by parents’ aspirations and ambitions as by any of her own.

“The system makes no sense to anymore to those outside it, nor to those of us inside it,” Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) says to the Queen after Charles’ funeral. “Oh, I’m sure everyone will carry on pretending all is well, but the party’s over. The good news is that while Rome burns and the Temple falls, we will sleep dearie, sleep.”

Hardly encouraging words about the future of the monarchy, or its present state either.


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Jim McDermott

Contributing writer

Jim is a magazine and screenwriter based in New York. He loves the work of Stephen Sondheim and cannot take a decent selfie.

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