After six seasons and 10 Emmy wins, it’s time to bid a royal farewell to The Crown, and the series finale brings the focus back to where it all started: Queen Elizabeth II.
As the finale opens, Charles excitedly asks Camilla at the breakfast table: “Marry me.” He’ll need his mother’s approval first, though, and Elizabeth is busy making plans for her own funeral in what the palace has termed Operation London Bridge. She’s in good health, but she’ll be 80 years old in a few months, and her staff shows her a model display of her own funeral parade. Elizabeth gets up close to gaze at the little figurines… and her own hearse. When the staff brings up the difficult logistics of her dying during an international tour, she quips: “I shall do my best to keep it local.”
Charles sits his mother down and earnestly asks for her blessing to marry Camilla. He says that Camilla has been “heroic” through the years, but Elizabeth sniffs: “There’s nothing heroic about any of this.” Still, she sees how much this means to him, so she calls in a collection of church bishops and asks if she can grant his request. They say she can, but “it will not be straightforward.” They don’t want to “consecrate a past infidelity.” One bishop recommends a civil ceremony and then a church blessing where Charles and Camilla “atone” for their sins. Elizabeth’s face stiffens as she reminds the bishops that God delights in mercy — and that she doesn’t want the future King of England living in sin.
Elizabeth next calls in William and Harry and asks them what they think about Charles’ request. Harry grumbles, “I knew it,” and William says it still feels wrong to see them together. He knows Camilla makes his dad happy, so he approves, even though Harry later lashes out at him for caving in. Elizabeth calls to give Charles her blessing, and he immediately rushes to Camilla and happily gets down on one knee. William and Harry attempt to blow off steam at a costume party, but Harry shows up in a vintage German army uniform complete with Nazi armband, setting off a fresh firestorm of controversy. Oh, Harry. We wish we could say it gets easier.
A pensive Elizabeth admits to Philip that all this funeral talk “has stirred things up a bit” for her, and in a poignant scene, she calls in the royal bagpiper to ask if there’s a song he could play at her funeral. He knows the perfect one, titled “Sleep, Dearie Sleep,” and as his playing reverberates through the halls of the palace, a maid begins to sing along… and Elizabeth’s eyes glisten with tears. She gets even more emotional watching old films of her childhood and younger days, and at the horse stables the next day, she still won’t open up to Philip. She’s visited, though, by her younger self played by Olivia Colman (!), who knows what Elizabeth is thinking: She’s considering stepping down and letting Charles take the crown. She’s exhausted, she says, and Charles seems ready. Olivia’s Elizabeth tells her it’s “the right thing to do, as a queen and a mother,” so Elizabeth informs her staff she’ll be making a speech at Charles’ reception… and she’s writing it herself.
Rumors start to fly about Elizabeth’s speech — Harry jokes that it’s the wedding gift his dad Charles wants the most — but as she finishes writing it out, she’s confronted by her even younger self played by Claire Foy! She thinks this retirement talk is “nonsense”: “You’re fit enough to ride and drive, so you’re fit enough to wear the crown.” She adds that being royal “comes naturally to you. They all seem to make such a mess of it.” Elizabeth is still torn, though, and her voice quakes as she asks her younger self about “the woman I put aside when I became Queen.” Claire’s Elizabeth is firm: That woman is gone now, she says. “You buried her long ago.”
So Elizabeth crosses out some lines in her speech, and at Charles and Camilla’s reception, she opens with a joke: “For those of you who don’t know me, I am the mother of the groom.” She commends Charles for filling the role of the Prince of Wales so well, and Camilla for her warmth and patience, welcoming her to the family. She doesn’t make any announcements, though, and during a family photo, she manages to find a smile. After the festivities, Philip says she made the right call “because those that come after you are not remotely ready to take over.” He leaves her alone with her thoughts, and as a bagpiper plays “Sleep, Dearie Sleep,” Elizabeth walks past an imaginary coffin with her crown and scepter on it. She’s joined once again by Claire and Olivia’s younger Elizabeths as she solemnly walks out of the church — and into the rest of her reign.
Was that a fitting farewell to The Crown? Give the finale a grade in our poll, and then hit the comments to share your thoughts on the final season.