The Crown Reviews: The Good, The Very Bad And Diana’s Ghost (Yes, Really)

Season six part one reviews are a mixed bag...

Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry in the final season of The Crown

by Nikki Peach |
Updated on

The first four episodes of the final season of The Crown are officially out on Netflix, and that means the reviews are too. And they're not all that brilliant.

Part one landed on the streaming platform on 16 November, with the final six episodes out on 14 December. The first instalment deals with some contentious moments in royal history such as the PR war between Princess Diana and Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince William struggling at Eton and Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's fatal car accident.

The first reviews of season six are now in – and what a mixed bag they are... Here's what the critics had to say...


'Very silly dialogue'

According to The Telegraph, the first episode is worth three stars and includes some 'very silly dialogue'. Anita Singh writes, 'Diana's holiday with Dodi leaves Charles furious that he and Camilla are losing the PR war' and describes the episode as 'cat-and-mouse'.

'A wobbly take'

Meanwhile, Daniel Fienberg at The Hollywood Reporter says the final season kicks off with a 'wobbly take on the Diana/Dodi romance' and thinks the third and fourth episodes are the 'worst stretch' of the show to date.

He writes, 'for better or worse, people are going to have a lot to say about these four episodes' and says the third episode is a 'brutal hatchet job on Dodi'.

'So bad it's out-of-body'

The Guardian's Lucy Mangan takes her criticism of the first four episodes even further. The one-star-review headline reads: 'So bad it’s basically an out-of-body experience.'

She says, 'Unless you are reading this will ensconced in a Diana shrine of your own making, those few months are recreated in a truly punishing level of detail.' And, of course, the ghost of Diana is mentioned several times too. Lucy writes, 'Ghost Diana is all of a piece with what is now simply a crass, by-numbers piece of film-making, with a script that barely aspires to craft, let alone art, any more.'

'Exorcise the ghost'

You'll notice a theme emerging – people aren't overly keen on Diana's ghost. Carol Midgley reviewed the episodes for The Times and says: 'Moving stuff, but exorcise the ghost'.

She writes, 'Were the royal watchers and garment-renders right to say that portraying the "ghost" of Princess Diana would be a tawdry, farcical, a sick joke? Well, it wasn't the show's finest hour, that's for sure.'

'Feverish celeb worship'

Francesca Steele has mourned the show's heyday for The i, writing that The Crown was 'once masterful drama' and is now 'feverish celeb worship'.

She writes that the depiction of Diana, obsessed with her own victimhood, makes her character too unlikeable. And says, 'strangely, it is Charles (Dominic West) proclaiming his love for Camilla (Olivia Williams) to anyone who will hear it – including the Queen (Imelda Staunton), who really wishes he wouldn't – who is more engaging.'

'Awful garbage'

Elsewhere, The Irish Examiner has dubbed the show 'awful garbage'. Pat Fitzpatrick says, 'There were times when it felt like I was tied to the chair and forced to watch a made-for-TV movie about Princess Di, rushed out after her death in Paris in 1997.'

He even ended the review saying, 'it's just as well this is the last season of The Crown.'

'A very pretty bore'

The A.V. Club described the season as a 'very pretty bore', and also criticised the heavy focus on Princess Diana. Lauren Chval says, 'There were poignant moments, but at a certain point, you're beating a dead horse. By the time the finale rolled around, it felt clear that the show no longer knew what to do with Diana.'

It is, however, slightly more hopeful. 'It seems likely that the second half of the season will be more interesting,' she writes. 'If Diana was the centre of gravity, where will everyone fall in her absence?'

'A clumsy and predictable ending'

In Caryn James' review for the BBC, she has called part one a 'clumsy and predictable ending'. Her main issue was with Charles rather than Diana, writing 'the series can't avoid its baked-in casting flaw. West's down-to-earth quality is all wrong for a character who, more than ever, seems endlessly self-absorbed and privileged.'

It also praises Peter Morgan's writing, describing it as 'elegant' and 'penetrating' overall, but suggests this final season could have been written by the viewers themselves. Yikes.


'It retakes its throne'

Variety, however, whistles a different tune. Its review by Aramide Tinubu calls the series 'thunderous' and says, 'with this devastating first section of its final chapter, Netflix's crown jewel bids farewell to an icon, and retakes its throne.'

Aramide doesn't have a problem with Diana's ghost either, writing 'in humanising the two in life and in death (there are no "ghosts" here), juxtaposed against the reigning monarch's stoicism and commitment to grating tradition, the show invites the audience to consider the choices made by the British royal family, which have contributed to its relic-like state.'

'Diana dominates as she did in life'

The Evening Standard has given the show four stars, and praises Peter Morgan's decision to centre Diana, writing 'it's Diana who dominates The Crown, as she did in life.'

Melanie McDonagh says, 'the Royals come well out of this season of The Crown... the Queen is more obviously sympathetic – and Imelda Staunton does a creditable take on her television address to the nation, articulating the grief.'

However, she worries that the final six episodes will pale in comparison – writing that 'with the departure of Diana, the lights have gone down.'

'The people's princess remains irresistible'

Rebecca Mead reviewed the episodes for The New Yorker and says, 'The events of August 1997 are no longer seen primarily through the eyes of the Queen. Instead, he has foregrounded the irresistible Diana as she spends what turn out to be her final few weeks subject to a treacherous alchemy: being transmuted from the future Queen into the novel form of a peculiarly rarefied ordinary citizen.'

She thinks the show pays due respect to Diana's final days, and the wake of grief and despair it caused and says 'there is no one in a position to authoritatively pronounce whether Morgan gets it right or wrong.'

'Debicki is transcendent'

As for the Financial Times, Dan Eivan says despite the show being condemned for featuring the 'ghost' of Diana, Elizabeth Debicki's portrayal of Diana is 'transcendent'.

He says, 'the controversial scenes – which find the recently deceased princess speaking with Charles and Diana – are likely to only offend those who seek to be offended.'

If those glowing reviews have piqued your interest, you can watch the first four episodes of The Crown on Netflix now to decide for yourself.

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