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

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‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 1 review: The royal soap opera hits a sombre speed-breaker on its final run
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A still from ‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 1
| Photo Credit: @Netflix/Youtube

Though it is called The Crown, Part 1 of Season 6 is all about Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki). Starting with a crash in Paris on August 31, 1997, following a high-speed chase by paparazzi, which killed the Princess and Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla), the show goes back eight weeks to show the romance between Dodi and Diana.

A year after her divorce from Prince Charles (Dominic West), Diana chooses to be out of England for the grand fiftieth birthday celebrations that Charles is hosting for Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), the long-time third wheel in the royal marriage. Consummate Anglophile and Egyptian billionaire, who is trying his hardest for an in with the snobby royals, offers his yacht at Saint Tropez to Diana and the boys, William (Rufus Kampa) and Harry (Fflyn Edwards).

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

The astronomical sums papers are willing to pay for pictures of Diana foreshadow the fatal chase by the paparazzi into the Paris tunnel. The way the media was manipulated by the royals was, however, not nuanced.  The shadow wars played out between Charles and Diana with each feeding their favourite reporters their version of truth is 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 is of intense interest to the world at large as well as a certain Egyptian billionaire

The Crown re-imagines Diana and Dodi’s last days, with Diana definitely rejecting Dodi’s proposal of marriage and assuring the princes as much. While the Queen’s (Imelda Staunton) reaction or non-reaction to Diana’s death was the original springboard for the show (creator Peter Morgan developed the show from his 2006 film The Queen and 2013 play, The Audience ), The Crown is going to conclude in the early 2000s, with the budding relationship between Prince William (Ed McVey) and Kate Middleton (Meg Bellamy).

The production continues to be top-notch, and the acting is consistently brilliant. Apart from Coleman and Debicki, acting honours 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 clothes—all those bikinis, resort wear and white trousers are divine. The music features anthems from the late 90s, including ‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawamba and ‘Hush’ by Kula Shaker, bringing to mind the early days of satellite tele and MTV.

For all its glitter and sheen, the show is rather manipulative and maudlin with a sense of being out of step. There is a marked lack of taste with the lack 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 involving. Now we can wait for December 14, for the remaining six episodes to air to get the Windsors out of our system forever more.

The Crown is streaming on Netflix

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