How 'The Crown' Season 6 Handled Princess Diana's Death

The tragic car accident that killed the Princess of Wales is a focal point of the Emmy-winning drama's final season.

The Crown debuted the first four episodes of their sixth and final season on Thursday, focusing on Princess Diana, her relationship with Dodi Fayed, and the tumultuous weeks leading up to their deaths in August 1997.

The fatal car wreck -- which killed Diana, Dodi and driver Henri Paul in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris in the early hours of Aug. 31, 1997 -- occurs at the end of episode 3, titled "Dis-Moi-Oui," however the show is gentle in the way it depicts the tragedy.

After a tumultuous evening that includes Dodi's failed attempt at proposing, Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Dodi (Khalid Abdalla) decide to leave the Ritz hotel and return to Dodi's Paris apartment, necessitating a late night drive across town through a throng of eager paparazzi.

Henri warns the photographers not to follow the car -- telling them in French, "You'll never catch us" -- but of course they pursue anyway. In the final moments of the episode, we see the Black Mercedes enter the tunnel, followed by the gruesome sounds of a crash.


Episode 4, also written by The Crown's creator and EP Peter Morgan, picks up with the news going public -- by the time the queen and the royal family are informed at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, it's already gone worldwide on TV news.

Prince Charles (Dominic West) makes the decision to let Prince William (Rufus Kampa) and Prince Harry (Fflyn Edwards) sleep through the night -- telling his future wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, in an emotional phone call, "While they're sleeping they still have a mother."

However, Debicki does appear onscreen as Diana twice more, in posthumous visions alongside her former husband and mother-in-law.

As Prince Charles flies back from Paris, where he broke down as he identified Diana's body in the hospital, she appears in the seat across from him, thanking him for his "raw" reaction.

"You know, I loved you so much, so deeply. So painfully, too," she tells Charles. "It'll be easier for everyone with me gone."

"No it won't," he scoffs.

"Admit it, you've had that thought already," Diana challenges, but Charles won't take the bait.

"The only thought I've had since the moment I heard is regret," he confesses.

"That will pass," she assures, but he again replies, "No it won't."


Later, after the queen and Prince Charles debate the merits of her making a public statement on Diana's death -- which the queen sees as "theater, spectacle, exhibitionism" -- the late Princess of Wales appears once again, this time to her former mother-in-law.

"I hope you're happy now," the queen says wryly. "You've finally succeeded in turning me and this house upside down."

"That was never my intention," Diana pleads.

"Oh, please. Look at what you've started," the queen retorts, pointing to the television, which shows the masses lined up to mourn Diana outside Buckingham Palace. "It's nothing less than revolution."

"It didn't need to be," the late princess replies. "But by making an enemy of me -- not me, personally, but what I stand for -- it starts to look like one."

"They're trying to show you who they are. What they feel. What they need. And I know that must be terrifying, but it needn't be," she continues. "For as long as anyone can remember, you've taught us what it means to be British. Maybe it's time to show you're ready to learn, too."

Debicki spoke with ET about filming the posthumous Diana scenes, calling them "a really beautiful expression of grief."

"I think grief, it's a such a huge, slippery, overwhelming human experience, and how do you represent that on screen?" she recalled. "I think anybody who's lost somebody knows that one of the first things that you feel is taken from your life is the ability to speak with that person whenever you need to."

"So I think the idea Peter [Morgan] had is just sort of expressing that natural desire to see [them] just one more time," she continued. "See that person and also say the things that you may not be able to say to them when they're there... I also was able within my character just to sort of experience that catharsis as Diana. To just be able to say to this person who was the love of your life that you'll always love them."

Morgan agreed when he spoke with ET at The Crown's final season premiere, sharing that when it comes to telling the royal family's story, "We take the responsibility to get all of it right."

"The death of Diana, it still looms large," he continued. "It’s the job of a dramatist to tell the story of kings and queens, and this was a tragic episode within it. But also an episode which changed the country somehow. So we had to look at that, while being mindful all the time of people's feelings."

Morgan added that he didn't have any particular message to share with the real-life royals who may or may not watch the series, but noted, "If they watch it I hope they think it's fair and responsible. That's what we've tried to be."

The Crown is streaming now on Netflix. Part 2 of the sixth and final season premieres Dec. 14.


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