With its intimate portrayal of the world’s most famous family, The Crown has been compulsive viewing across the globe since Claire Foy’s young Princess Elizabeth wed Matt Smith’s caddish Prince Philip in season one. Now, the final instalment is about to broadcast, a year after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Imelda Staunton reprises her role as the late Queen and reveals the monarch’s death last year had an impact on everyone on the show.
“Doing this last season did carry a lot of weight,” says the actress. “We started filming and then, very soon after, the Queen died, so it was quite difficult, to be honest.
"We carried on with as much dignity and grace as always but, obviously, there was a very different temperature in the world, in England and even more so on The Crown.”
This series will be split into two. Part one picks up where season five left off in 1997. Its four episodes depict the romance between Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, including the days leading up to the fateful car crash in which she died, and which, says Elizabeth Debicki, were tough scenes to play.
“It was heavy and very manic, and incredibly invasive,” says the actress, who plays Diana. “No-one should ever experience what it’s like to get these scenes in the daytime in Paris. To try and get from one place to another, and to have this swarm around you. You feel very trapped.
“I was seven when Diana passed. What I learnt about this, they’re pieces of our human history. That’s part of culture, part of our understanding of the media, obviously of the Royal Family. I have a very distinct memory of watching the funeral when I was a kid and watching the two princes. My mother was devastated.”
Part two consists of six episodes and will air on 14 December. It sees the Queen reflecting on the future of the monarchy as she reaches her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and the wedding of Charles and Camilla in 2005.
“The last third of this season is much happier for Charles, as it ends with his marriage to Camilla,” says Dominic West who plays the prince. “Which was unquestioningly the best wedding I’ve ever had. It was amazing. We were in York Minster with 500 extras bowing. Charles’ wonderful wedding waistcoat is just beautiful – and it’s his best look.
“We were in so many beautiful places, everywhere we went you marvelled at. I loved it when we had tea because there would be proper cake, proper buns, proper biscuits. The fruitcake was what did it for me. That’s what I’ll miss the most!”
Olivia Williams, who returns as Camilla Parker Bowles, reveals she became very fond of her royal counterpart, who came under public scrutiny at the time of Diana’s death.
“There seems to be a Camilla or Diana clash, whereas I don’t think it has to be that,” she says. “It was a dreadful situation.
“Charles and Camilla have shown that their marriage is an excellent one, and that she is the perfect companion to our King and so I did feel that deserved some credit. She has been provoked and provoked and has never risen. She’s a better woman than I.”
Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy will make their acting debuts in the second part as Prince William and Kate Middleton who met as students at St Andrews University in 2001.
Ed, Meg and Luther Ford, who plays Prince Harry, hope to follow in the footsteps of previous The Crown actors, Claire Foy, Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin, who have rocketed to stardom.
The final series sees a number of actors reprising their roles, including Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret and Jonathan Pryce, as Prince Philip. Khalid Abdalla plays Dodi, Salim Daw is his father, Mohamed Al-Fayed, and Bertie Carvel and Lydia Leonard play Tony and Cherie Blair.
Claudia Harrison returns as Princess Anne and says she bade farewell to her character in a special way when the series wrapped in April.
“There was another moment I gave myself when they took my wig off,” she says. “My lovely make-up artist put her hands on my shoulder and we had a moment of silence in the trailer. The team unpicked my wig, I did a salute and went, 'Bye mate, bye Anne’, and she’s gone."
“It was an emotional last week, most of the crew have been working on the show for a decade. On the last day of filming we were chatting and someone said, ‘This is it, things may never be this splendid again’ – because it really is a splendid show and a huge privilege to be a part of.”
Watch Part One of The Crown on Netflix, November 16
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