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The Crown season 5 ending explained

At the end of its fifth season, The Crown has taken viewers through much of the turmoil and strife that engulfed the royal family over the course of that decade. Charles and Diana’s marriage has fallen apart, and Diana has become a figure of public sympathy in part by discussing all the ways she was rejected by the family.

The season’s final episode takes place in 1997, which historians and royal watchers know is a key year for everyone’s favorite dysfunctional royal family, and sets the stage for what is likely to be a moving and tumultuous final season for the Netflix series.

Warning: spoilers ahead for the fifth season of The Crown

Charles and his mother come to blows on two fronts

The Queen looks at Charles and Diana in The Crown.

The final episode of the second season focuses squarely on Charles, Diana, and Elizabeth. Charles and Elizabeth wind up in a debate over the state of the monarchy, and whether it can survive in a modern age where it increasingly seems like a relic. This debate eventually folds in several other members of the royal family, including Prince Philip, and is likely to be one of the most enduring questions that the show leaves us with.

At the same time, Elizabeth confronts Charles over his decision to take Camila Parker-Bowles on a holiday using the royal yacht. This comes as the yacht is about to be decommissioned because of the costs required to maintain it. It’s a useful moment to remember how much Elizabeth has already been through, and how much the monarchy has had to change as a result.

The episode also sees the election of Labor Party Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has a much testier relationship with the queen than his predecessor. Charles also holds a meeting with Blair, which informs their fight over the current state of the royal family.

Princess Diana’s new relationship is about to go public

Diana shakes the hand of a woman in The Crown.

As was the case for much of the season, the other principal focus of the episode is Diana’s fairly new relationship with Dodi Fayed, the son of Mohamed Al-Fayed. She ends the season by bringing her boys on a vacation to St. Tropez with Dodi and Mohamed, which is where she and Dodi ultimately grew closer to one another. She visited St. Tropez several times over the course of that summer.

Where does The Crown go from here?

The fifth season of The Crown covers almost a decade, but it also stops on the verge of what is likely to serve as one of the climactic moments of the series: the death of Princess Diana. Throughout the season, we see the way Diana is hounded by paparazzi and unable to escape the public eye.

The Royal Family poses for a photo in The Crown.

That desire to escape will ultimately lead a car she’s in with Dodi Fayed to crash on August 31 in Paris, killing them both as well as the driver. The Crown creator Peter Morgan has already told the story of what the royal family did in the aftermath of that news in the 2006 film The Queen, but it seems like he’s poised to spend a good chunk of the final season retelling that story. Given how closer we are to Diana’s death, it seems like the event is likely to occur in the first half of the final season.

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