The Crown Season 6: The ghost of Princess Diana has divided critics and audiences alike

By Louie Fecou
Published: November 18, 2023
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The Crown Season 6 Critic and Audience Reactions
The Crown Season 6 | Image via Netflix

2023 ushers in the final season of Netflix blockbuster The Crown, with the series apparently coming to an end and covering perhaps the most controversial storyline ever, the death of Princess Diana. The tragic events that surrounded the car crash that killed the Princess and Dodi Fayed has been a subject that has been scrutinized and picked apart, sparking theories and speculation, becoming almost an obsession, and remaining a mystery that for many has never been satisfactorily resolved. So, you can imagine the buzz that the final season of The Crown generated before the season’s Part 1 episodes dropped. However, something has shifted in the zeitgeist, and the show has managed to perhaps bite off more than it could chew. Critics and audiences have been taking some swipes at the show, calling Season 6 of The Crown by far the worst season.

But why? What are people angry about? What did the show get wrong and, conversely, what little did it get right? Allow us to explain.

How did critics and audiences react to The Crown Season 6?

The final season of the show has split itself into two parts, much like the audience, and will cover the Royal Family’s story from 1997 to 2005. It will explore Diana’s terrible death, and the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, and there will no doubt be a sideways glance at Prince William and Kate Middleton. With such material, you have to wonder why there has been such a negative response to the show.

The Mail Online was quick to note that viewers are unhappy with the Diana scenes when she is depicted as a ghost. Diana appears as a specter in a few scenes in Episode 4, conversing with members of the Royal Family, including the Queen, and audiences have not been impressed with this creative approach.

The Guardian was equally unimpressed, giving the season so far a one out of five, and The Independent and The Telegraph echo the sentiments of others giving the show a dismal two out of five, with The Telegraph stating that the show continues its “demolition job on the late Queen’s character, a six-series arc which has taken us from Claire Foy’s bright young woman to Imelda Staunton’s sour old boot… Now she is little more than a hairdo: no interior life, no personality, no intelligence.”

Damning stuff, and things don’t get much better with Entertainment Weekly explaining their stance on the ghostly scenes, saying, “It’s an odd flight of maudlin fancy for a series that’s handled most events in the royal family’s lives with a grounded — if fictionalized — realism.”

However, there were some good reviews too, and The Times chose to ignore the supernatural aspect and award a four out of five for the first part of the season.

Social media wasn’t as kind, with plenty taking to X, exasperated with the show and Ghost Diana.

Why is The Crown Season 6 considered the worst in the series?

It does seem that the show may have reached its “jump the shark” moment with the ghostly appearance of Diana, and to be fair, it is easy to see why many would see this as either offensive or just tone-deaf.

Princess Diana's Ghost talks to the Queen in The Crown Season 6

Imelda Staunton [L] and Elizabeth Debicki in The Crown Season 6 | Image via Netflix

Diana’s death was a moment of historical significance that had a devastating effect on millions of people around the world, and the show may have leaned too far into cheap melodrama when it should have perhaps gone the other way and shown more respect for the real life material it was pillaging. However, The Crown has always veered into the realms of whimsy in previous outings, so maybe we should regard the show as a piece of entertainment, and not an accurate historical document. The blurring of the two can lead to the kind of backlash that this season has generated.

Still, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

What are the fact-checkers saying about The Crown Season 6?

There’s quite a lot that you could unpack, and the fact-checkers have been doing their work, starting pretty much with the guest list for Camilla’s birthday party in Episode 1. The list is a carefully guarded secret, but we do know that Margaret Thatcher was not there, but The Crown stuck her in anyway. The Queen would snub the event, still believing that the whole debacle wasn’t befitting of the royal family.

In the third episode, Dodi proposes to Diana, but there is no confirmation in the real world that this happened. The speculation seemed to arise from the fact that he did have a ring in his possession, insinuating a proposal of marriage, but there’s nothing concrete to back up the scene in the show.

Of course, the idea that ghosts of Diana and Dodi appeared to members of their family is sheer fantasy, and there do not seem to be any members of the Royal Family that mentioned this.

As far as the relationship between Dodi and Diana being manipulated by Mohamed Fayed, and the release of pictures by the paparazzi, it is a grey area that is easy to speculate on. The reality of the situation though is the photographs taken on the yacht were captured by a famous paparazzi, who would retire from the payday, and was in the right place at the right time. There is no evidence that he was tipped off by Mohamed Fayed about the location.

It was true that Dodi had been formerly engaged to the model Kelly Fisher, but she was cast aside due to his involvement with Diana, and The Crown does lean towards casting some aspersions about the nature of the relationship between Diana and Dodi. How it came about will be a story that will cause debate forever.

The Crown has always stated that the show is not a documentary.

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