Here's How 'The Crown' Honors Queen Elizabeth in Its Final Episode

The epic drama looks back on a monarch's legacy.

the crown season 6 finale
(Image credit: Justin Downing/Netflix)

The final moments of The Crown have a lot to accomplish. Creator Peter Morgan's decades-spanning love letter to Queen Elizabeth II has finally come to an end after six seasons, three casts, and dozens of iconic moments in the British royal family. For its last-ever episode, the series looked back over the queen's long legacy, as her fictionalized counterpart approaches 80 and considers where the future of the monarchy lies. Now that the end of an era of prestige television has arrived, let's look over how The Crown season 6 honored Queen Elizabeth's final years. (TL;DR: No, the show doesn't depict the queen's death.)

After part 1 of the final season employed ghosts to give Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed some final moments of closure, season 6 episode 10, titled "Sleep, Dearie Sleep," brings back the show's two prior versions of the queen, played by Claire Foy in seasons 1 and 2 and Olivia Colman in seasons 3 and 4. The big events of the installment are the early planning of the queen's funeral, and Prince Charles and Camilla's wedding, to which the queen gives her blessing. She even plans to abdicate the throne early, and announce to Charles on his wedding day that he would soon become king (a.k.a. his dream wedding present). Colman and Foy's queens serve as the avatars on her shoulders for this decision. First, the middle-aged Elizabeth tells her elder that it's time to step down for a rest, with Charles looking ready to lead and with the possibility that she would be less effective as she gets older. The present-day Elizabeth seems swayed, enough to ask for time during the reception and start writing a speech.

crown season 6 finale

(Image credit: Justin Downing/Netflix)

Then, with just hours to go before the announcement, Foy's Elizabeth gives her peace. She's all for the queen continuing, and argues that Elizabeth is as much in the prime of her life right now as Charles is in his. Foy also points out how naturally the role of monarch comes to Elizabeth, while it seems like her predecessors all "seem to make such a mess of it." The divorces, the scandals (the episode also devotes time to Prince Harry's infamous Nazi costume), Prince Andrew as a whole. Despite this solid point, Staunton's Elizabeth wonders when it will be her time, and echoes back to the life she left behind to serve a country for fifty-plus years. Foy's answer? "If you went looking for Elizabeth Windsor, you wouldn't find her... You buried her years ago."

Whatever your thoughts about the monarchy's usefulness, the queen was the constant, steady face through generations of history. There is an alternate reality where she did step down, and the institution was left in Charles' eager hands. But as we know, that didn't happen. Elizabeth decides once again to prioritize duty and the country over all. Her wedding speech goes off without a hitch, as the abdication bit goes unspoken.

the crown season 6 finale

(Image credit: Justin Downing/Netflix)

At the end of it all, Queen Elizabeth stands alone in the chamber, as she looks back on a lifetime of service. Imelda Staunton's Queen picks up her little purse and turns to see a vision of her bagpipe player, performing her chosen funeral song, "Sleep, Dearie, Sleep." As she paces towards the exit, the coffin from Queen Elizabeth's real-life funeral appears, with her crown, orb, and sceptre resting atop the casket. From behind it, a young Elizabeth, wearing a WWII uniform, steps out and gives the Queen a salute. As Staunton turns back toward the exit, Claire Foy and Olivia Colman's versions of the Queen appear over her shoulders, standing solid as the visions of the monarch's past that she now leaves behind.

In a gorgeous final shot displaying a bright, empty Abbey, Staunton's Queen walks alone, growing smaller and smaller as she makes her way through the massive chamber. The door opens for her, displaying a symbolic bright white light. She exits, and the door closes behind her, shutting the door on a series that was always its most masterful when focused on the monarch at its center.

Quinci LeGardye
Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.