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Biggest Unanswered Questions From The Crown Season 5

When "The Crown" premiered in 2016, its subject matter was distant history. Seasons 1 and 2 of the celebrated series chronicle the life of Queen Elizabeth II from 1947 through 1964, during which time she marries Prince Philip, gives birth to four children, and begins her reign as sovereign. Seasons 3 and 4 cover 1964 to 1990, a period that sees her family mature and the nation modernize under the leadership of different prime ministers, including Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to hold the position. In Season 5 of "The Crown," which takes place from 1990 to 1997, viewers encounter versions of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Princess Diana who look much more like their recent memories of the royal family. Viewers may even have assumed they knew where this latest set of 10 episodes was going, since the "The Crown" isn't dealing with distant history anymore. 

But as those who've finished their binge-watch know, Season 5 isn't in a hurry to get to the most dramatic moments of the royals' turn-of-the-millennium lives. Not only does this slate of episodes take its time with its most famous plot line — Princess Diana's divorce and eventual death — it zigs and zags across its featured characters' personal lives. This paints a broader portrait of the royal family during this notoriously tumultuous period. By the season's end, the only thing that's settled is Tony Blair's victory and Charles and Diana's divorce. Thus, the penultimate season of "The Crown" leaves a dark cloud looming over Season 6, which means — despite all the stiff upper lips on display — that the final episodes starring these dramatized versions of the Windsors are sure to be wild. What are the absolute biggest questions "The Crown" Season 5 leaves unanswered? We're here to find out.

When will Diana die?

Season 5, Episode 10, "Decommissioned," ends on what would be considered a cliffhanger if we didn't all know what happens next. The episode takes place in the summer of 1997, as Diana is about to join Mohamed Al-Fayed and his son Dodi on their yacht for a sunny holiday in the Mediterranean. In real life, on August 10 of that year, photos of Diana and Dodi kissing on the yacht's deck were published, according to Sarah Bradford's biography, "Diana." In another 21 days, both Diana and Dodi, as well as driver Henri Paul, were dead as a result of a horrific automobile accident (via BBC). 

In narrativizing the lives of the royals and the events of the 20th century that involved them, "The Crown" can devote an entire episode to a single day, then breeze through a whole year (or more) off-screen. Since, chronologically, the show's only got about two months to go until that fateful date on the calendar arrives, it's likely that Diana's death will occur in either Episode 1 of Season 6 or perhaps Episode 2, if the first installment focuses on her and Dodi's romance, rather than their deaths. But as fans know, "The Crown" isn't always strictly chronological: The series makes frequent use of flashbacks and multiple perspectives. This means that the news that stopped the world in its tracks could come at any moment. 

We also don't know how "The Crown" will interpret Diana and Dodi's relationship, the true nature of which is still debated more than 20 years later. Before, and especially after, the tragedy, the press treated the pair as a once-in-a-lifetime love story. But Diana and Dodi spent mere weeks together prior to the crash. Will "The Crown" lean into romanticism or remain realistic? Only time will tell.

Will The Crown touch upon conspiracy theories?

The infamous paparazzi chase and subsequent wreck that claimed the life of Princess Diana is a true historical milestone. Like so many similar events that fascinate the public — think of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Apollo 11 Moon landing — the accident became instant fodder for conspiracy theories. In this case, some of the unfounded allegations came from the father of one of the victims, who also happens to be a character on "The Crown": Mohamed Al-Fayed. 

Mere months after the incident occurred, Al-Fayed claimed that Diana and Dodi had been engaged and that the crash was no accident (via The Irish Times). Someone, he insisted, didn't want the recently divorced princess and his son to marry. Other rumors spread like wildfire and persist to this day, according to The New York Post. People often posit that Diana was pregnant with Dodi's child, and that the royal family worked with British intelligence agencies to purposefully cause the accident. The fact that investigations have debunked such rumors hasn't dampened many people's enthusiasm for them. In fact, these conspiracy theories have found entirely new life on modern social media networks like TikTok.

Will "The Crown" wade into these many different conspiracy theories? The answer will probably remain uncertain until Season 6 debuts. On the one hand, they're very much part of the true history "The Crown" tackles, especially given Mohamed Al-Fayed's involvement in spreading them. On the other hand, "The Crown" might decide to refrain from including them out of a sense of decorum. The show's greatest challenge will be staging these scenes respectfully. However "The Crown" chooses to do so will doubtlessly be fascinating, though the details remain mysterious.

How similar will Season 6 be to The Queen?

In some ways, Season 6 of "The Crown" will be daunting for series creator Peter Morgan. In others, it'll be a walk in the park. That's because, for all intents and purposes, he's done it before. Morgan wrote the critically acclaimed and award winning 2006 film "The Queen," which covers the same territory. Starring Helen Mirren (who won an Oscar for her performance) as Elizabeth II and Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, this narrowly-focused biopic explores the long-reigning monarch's struggle to connect to the public during the period of mourning following Diana's death. 

In subject matter, tone, and style, "The Queen" and "The Crown" are remarkably similar. Most prominently, the major players are the same. Besides Elizabeth, there's the Queen Mother, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Tony and Cherie Blair. The setting of both productions is also nearly identical: Like "The Crown," "The Queen" largely takes place within the walls of various palaces and 10 Downing Street. Both the film and Netflix series are deeply interested in the symbolism of the monarchy, with all its carefully managed proprieties and protocols. They're also both fascinated by Queen Elizabeth herself. Time will tell whether Morgan is content to rehash this moment in history for a new audience 17 years later, or if he'll challenge himself to find fresh material in the events of 1997. 

There is one key difference between the film and the television series, however. In "The Queen," no actor plays Princess Diana. The movie uses archival footage to portray her, and centers the story squarely on the choices that Mirren's Elizabeth must make. If there are to be major divergences between "The Queen" and "The Crown," they'll probably stem from the fact that the latter production is more of an ensemble piece that, in its last two seasons, is about Diana as much as it's about Elizabeth. 

Will 9/11 factor into the plot?

It's a safe bet that Tony Blair, who is elected prime minister in Season 5's "Decommissioned," will be a significant character in Season 6 of "The Crown." He's essentially the male lead of Peter Morgan's "The Queen," and Season 5 describes him as a young and enthusiastic visionary who successfully taps into the United Kingdom's prevailing mood. Blair's political ascendancy was indeed a major world event at the turn of the millennium, but his agenda was sidetracked by 9/11. The special relationship that the United States and the United Kingdom share ensured his involvement in everything that came next. Indeed, as The Washington Post recounted 20 years after that fateful day, Blair became one of the United States' staunchest allies immediately following the attacks.

While the early part of Season 6 will almost definitely deal with the death of Princess Diana, the rest of its focus remains uncertain. What we do know, however, is that "The Crown" isn't likely to reach far beyond the early 2000s. As Morgan told The Hollywood Reporter (via Evening Standard), when writing about the royals, he prefers to cover events that happened at least 20 years ago. Since the next season of "The Crown" is planned to be the last, if its creator sticks to his self-imposed limits, viewers can expect the show's timeline to extend to roughly 2003. That timeline would include 9/11, and could include the start of active combat in Afghanistan. "The Crown" is apt to dip out of royal drama and into political and military history from time to time, and 9/11 was one of the defining news stories of the era. It'd be uncharacteristic of "The Crown" to ignore it. 

Will we get more Harry?

For most of Season 5, young Prince Harry is missing in action. We get plenty of interactions between Prince William, his mother, and his grandmother, in contrast. In fact, William's the center of a subplot that sees the heir to the throne become something of a pawn between the two women. But Harry, who is only two years Will's junior, gets almost no screen time at all with his big brother. This is somewhat odd, and makes ardent fans wonder what's coming up for the younger prince.

If we assume Season 6 will pick up close to where Season 5 leaves off, that means Harry will still be around 11 or 12 in the premiere episode. If the episodes that follow work their way into the 2000s, "The Crown" could delve into some of the minor scandals that plagued Harry in his adolescence and young adulthood. However, at present, an older Harry has not been cast for the upcoming season, which Variety reported paused production following Queen Elizabeth's death. 

One thing's for sure: Peter Morgan's "no events that happened fewer than 20 years ago" rule means that the final season of "The Crown" won't cover Prince Harry's marriage to Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, or the tabloids' fascination with their departure from royal life. The couple met in 2016 and wed in 2018, which is more than a decade after the story told by "The Crown" will likely conclude. 

How much of William and Kate's relationship will we see?

While Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's relationship will probably fall beyond the purview of "The Crown," there's a good chance we'll get to see another royal couple meet and fall in love. "The Crown" has cast young adult versions of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who made each other's acquaintance in 2001 when they were both students at the University of St Andrews. Though they were able to live in relative privacy during their college years, the beginnings of their relationship at St Andrews are well-documented and would make for great TV. 

According to The Evening Standard, Kate first turned Will's head at a charity fashion show, where she walked the runway in a see-through black dress over black undergarments. By their second year, they were living together, though Kate was dating someone else. Eventually, their friendship turned into something more. Around 2004, that "something more" became public knowledge when word of their courtship leaked to the press. 

It wasn't all smooth sailing for the current Prince and Princess of Wales, however. Their relationship was on-and-off again until their marriage in 2011. Rumors (often alleging infidelity) continue to proliferate in a media landscape that is eternally hungry for royal scandal. If "The Crown" wants to wrap things up on a happy note, William and Kate's wedding — which rivaled that of Charles and Diana's in terms of sheer spectacle — could serve as a natural endpoint. But it's unlikely the series will venture that far into William's future. 

How will The Crown deal with Prince Andrew?

Aside from making sure that Princess Diana's death is handled with the utmost sensitivity, the existence of Prince Andrew — both as a character on "The Crown" and a real person — will be Season 6's trickiest obstacle. According to The Times, Elizabeth and Philip's third child was stripped of his royal and military titles in 2022, following revelations of his association with Jeffrey Epstein. The Duke of York was accused of sexual assault by Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein and forced into sex with the Prince while she was still a minor. According to CNN, Prince Andrew paid an undisclosed settlement to Giuffre out of court. The scandal was a dark cloud hanging over the royal family in Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth's final years.

Since Andrew is already a character on "The Crown" — he appears as a young man in Seasons 3 and 4 and in middle age in Season 5 — it would be highly suspect and perhaps even irresponsible to sidestep these accusations, which date back to 2001. If the series follows Tony Blair during 9/11 and Prince William during his time at St Andrews, it could also make time and space for this ugly chapter of Windsor family history. Though this territory is complex and potentially perilous, Peter Morgan has demonstrated incredible skill at navigating such tricky terrain before. Should "The Crown" decide to cover these events, it stands a good chance of doing so successfully.

Will Season 6 dramatize more royal deaths?

Infamously, 1992 was an "annus horribilis" for rule-following Queen Elizabeth. Fissures between Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson grew ever more wide. Prince Charles and Princess Diana's unhappiness and infidelity became very public. An economic downturn plagued the nation. And, to top it all off, a horrific fire reduced many parts of Windsor Castle to smoking heaps of rubble. A decade later, the Queen would have another horrible year. She wasn't alone — much of the world was consumed with fears of terrorism in 2002 — but Elizabeth also suffered an immense amount of personal loss in this, the year of her Golden Jubilee. After it tackles the emotionally wrought subject of Diana's passing, "The Crown" could fast-forward to this critical year in the Queen's reign.

February 2022 marked 50 years since Queen Elizabeth's ascension to the throne. But the anticipation of what should've been a joyous and monumental occasion was dampened by the deaths of her sister, Princess Margaret, and her mother, who was also named Elizabeth. Both succumbed to illness only weeks apart, around the same time the Golden Jubilee kicked off. As "The Crown" is often at its best when juxtaposing the royals' highest and lowest points, 2002 would be ideal source material for Peter Morgan to dramatize. Margaret all but gets closure in Season 5 when she rekindles old flames with a terminally ill Peter Townsend, and the Queen Mother has been little more than a background character for a while now. There's simply not much of their stories left to tell. Audiences should probably expect to say goodbye to these characters in the series' final season, though their deaths probably won't power the season's main storyline. 

How will the series end?

In the real world, the story of the British monarchy is ongoing. But "The Crown" is slated to come to an end in 2023 with Season 6. How Peter Morgan will bring the curtain down on his version of the royal family remains to be seen. There are, however, real-world occurrences that stand out as particularly likely stopping points. The Golden Jubilee in 2002 falls neatly within Morgan's "20 year rule" timeline. Charles and Camilla's wedding in 2005 could be another possible exit strategy. The series could also end with title cards that catch viewers up to the present moment, including Queen Elizabeth II's passing on September 8, 2022 and the subsequent ascension of King Charles III. 

Or perhaps, as he did with "The Queen," Morgan could close his epic tale of Elizabeth's royal tenure on a more metaphorical note. The last shots of "The Crown" Season 6 could very well illustrate some private (and possibly even imagined) moments that capture the monarch who ruled the British Commonwealth, officially and symbolically, for more than 70 years. We've all seen the sanctioned portraits and photographs. It's the intimate, unspoken, and ultimately unknowable inner lives of the royals that fascinate Peter Morgan and fans of "The Crown." The series is just as likely to go out with a worldwide celebration as it is to wind down with a cup of tea.