How 'The Crown' Brought Back Olivia Colman and Claire Foy for Queen Elizabeth II's Final Scenes

The Crown

The series finale brought all three Queen Elizabeth actresses together for an emotional conclusion.

For The Crown's emotional conclusion, the creators made sure to honor the actresses who contributed to the iconic series and brought the show's version of Queen Elizabeth II to the screen.

The sixth and final season of the hit Netflix drama wraps up the long biopic arc of Queen Elizabeth, told over the past seven years. The final episode is set in 2005 -- nearly 17 years before Elizabeth's death in September 2022.

However, the show's creator, Peter Morgan, wanted to acknowledge the shared collective experience of the world having lost Queen Elizabeth in the show's finale. This led to the creation of the show's emotional sequence in which an 80-year-old Elizabeth -- played by Imelda Staunton -- reflects on her life and legacy while in St George’s Chapel, where she would eventually be laid to rest.

The scene allowed Staunton's Elizabeth to reflect on and imagine moments from her past -- thus facilitating cameos from Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, who previously portrayed the queen at different points in her life in Seasons 1 through 2 and seasons 3 through 4 respectively.

"We’d all been through the experience of the funeral," Morgan told Variety in an interview about the final season earlier this year. "Because of how deeply everybody will have felt that, I had to try and find a way in which the final episode dealt with the character’s death, even though she hadn't died yet [in the show.]"

For the scenes featuring Foy and Colman, the show brought back director Stephen Daldry -- who helmed the first two episodes of The Crown back in 2016.

Cinematographer Adriano Goldman recalled the challenges that came with bringing the three actresses together for the scene, while speaking with the publication.

"Everybody was there in person for the final scene," Goldman shared. "That was a struggle in itself in terms of the three queens' schedules, and who’s available, who’s not available, what's the best day to have them all together, how much time we’re going to have with the three of them together. It's not much, so we have to simplify the way they appear."

"So they were there physically," he added. "But that choir nave where the scene takes place, it’s a narrow one. "In order to light them properly, to make them look beautiful and appealing and royal, that was a very specific challenge for me, because I didn’t have enough space on the sides for lighting sources."

According to Goldman, the scene -- which also featured Staunton's Queen Elizabeth visualizing her own coffin -- was "very, very emotional."

"Age is a subject throughout the episode, right? Now we know she's 80. At the very beginning, Prince Philip [played by Jonathan Pryce] says to her face: 'You're 80.' So you know it's coming," Goldman recalled. "It's funny, how they are effectively discussing life and death. It's such a beautiful episode, it was so emotional."

Goldman also reflected on the impact of the queen's death on the cast and crew, recalling, "I was very moved when she died."

"We were in Barcelona, and we were supposed to shoot the next day -- that was going to be our first day of principal photography, and we were just told it’s not happening. In a sign of respect, we’re not going to shoot it."

"And then, when you finish the season, you feel so somehow attached and connected to the story," he added. "That's part of the reason, I think, Imelda felt it when she saw the coffin on stage."

While The Crown has come to an end, rumors have circulated about a possible prequel series. However, Morgan was clear when he recently spoke with ET on the red carpet at the premiere for The Crown's final episodes that he'll be happy to spend some time away from the fictitious lives of royals for a while.

"In the short term, I will not be writing anything set in a palace anywhere," he said with a laugh, though noted of the epic franchise, "I expect to miss it."

There's certainly no shortage of drama to be mined for story ideas -- even keeping to just the more "recent" royal history. There's the abdication of King Edward VIII, the history-making reign of Queen Victoria, the tension between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, and the end of the Tudor dynasty -- just to start.

"Maybe later on, at some point in my life, I'll miss it enough, you know, to pick up the pen again," Morgan conceded. "But really, at the moment, there's no plan... You never rule anything out, but in the short term -- absolutely not."

The final season of The Crown is streaming now on Netflix.