‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 1 review: The royal soap opera hits a sombre speed-breaker on its final run

A still from ‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 1 | Photo Credit: @Netflix/Youtube

Even though it is named The Crown, Part 1 of Season 6 primarily focuses on Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki). Beginning with the tragic crash in Paris on August 31, 1997, resulting from a high-speed chase by paparazzi, which claimed the lives of the Princess and Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla), the show takes a look back eight weeks to depict the romance between Dodi and Diana.

A year following her divorce from Prince Charles (Dominic West), Diana chooses to stay away from England during the grand fiftieth birthday celebrations that Charles is organizing for Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), the long-time third party in the royal marriage. An enthusiastic Anglophile and Egyptian billionaire, who is striving to win the acceptance of the snobbish royals, offers his yacht at Saint Tropez to Diana and her sons, William (Rufus Kampa) and Harry (Fflyn Edwards).

He also insists that his son, Dodi, who is three weeks away from marrying American model Kelly Fisher (Erin Richards), join them at Saint Tropez to entertain the special guest. The engagement is called off, Kelly sues Dodi for breach of contract, while a paparazzi photo of Dodi and Diana kissing triggers the “fiercest bidding war in Fleet Street’s history” with the pictures selling for £250,000.

The astronomical sums that newspapers are willing to pay for pictures of Diana foreshadow the fatal chase by the paparazzi into the Paris tunnel. However, the way the media was manipulated by the royals was not portrayed with subtlety. The power struggles played out between Charles and Diana, with each feeding their preferred reporters their own version of the truth, seem petty.

The Crown Season 6, Part 1 (English)

Episodes: 4

Runtime: 52 minutes

Creator: Peter Morgan

Starring: Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Lesley Manville, Dominic West, Olivia Williams

Storyline: After her divorce, Princess Diana’s private life becomes of intense interest to the world at large as well as a certain Egyptian billionaire

The Crown presents a reimagination of Diana and Dodi’s final days, with Diana firmly declining Dodi’s marriage proposal and assuring the princes likewise. While the Queen’s (Imelda Staunton) reaction or lack thereof to Diana’s death was the original inspiration for the show (creator Peter Morgan developed the show from his 2006 film The Queen and 2013 play, The Audience), The Crown is set to conclude in the early 2000s, depicting the budding relationship between Prince William (Ed McVey) and Kate Middleton (Meg Bellamy).

The production remains top-notch, and the acting consistently brilliant. In addition to Coleman and Debicki, acting accolades also go to Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret, Bertie Carvel as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne, and Marcia Warren as The Queen Mother.

Diana’s attire—all those bikinis, resort wear, and white trousers—is exquisite. The soundtrack features anthems from the late 90s, including ‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawamba and ‘Hush’ by Kula Shaker, bringing to mind the early days of satellite television and MTV.

Despite its glamour and shine, the show is somewhat manipulative and maudlin, giving off a sense of being out of touch. There is a noticeable lack of tact with the absence of a disclaimer and Diana comparing her marriage to a landmine being glaring examples. It is a beautiful and detached period piece, which is rather unfortunate. All the problems do not seem particularly interesting or engaging. Now, we can await the airing of the remaining six episodes on December 14 to bid farewell to the Windsors forever.

The Crown is streaming on Netflix

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