The flags are at half-mast and crowds have gathered at Buckingham Palace as the world starts to process the passing of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
While plans are put in place for the funeral and official accession of King Charles III, Netflix is having to make its own decisions following the death that will mark the decade.
The Queen’s death at the age of 96 raises the question of how Netflix and The Crown’s showrunner Peter Morgan will navigate the release and promotion of one of the hit show’s most explosive seasons yet, at such a deeply sensitive time.
Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth season of The Crown, which was scheduled to air in November 2022.Credit:Netflix
Season five, featuring Imelda Staunton as the Queen, Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip and Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana, was scheduled to air on Netflix in November. Netflix declined to comment, but it’s expected the release date will be postponed.
Complicating the situation further is the time period the new season depicts. Set in the 1990s, season five is expected to cover myriad controversies surrounding the royal family in 1992 in particular: three separations (Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips and, of course, Prince Charles and Princess Diana); a fire at one of the Queen’s most beloved residences, Windsor Castle; several torrid affairs; leaked photographs of Ferguson purportedly having her toe sucked and the publication of Diana’s revealing biography, Diana: Her True Story.
During the Queen’s speech at her Ruby Jubilee, she said: “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.”
The new season will also take in the controversy around Diana’s notorious 1995 Panorama interview, and the events leading up to her death in a Paris car crash in 1997.
Filming is underway for season six of The Crown, although Morgan suggested to Deadline soon after the Queen's passing that production would temporarily pause.
“The Crown is a love letter to her and I’ve nothing to add for now, just silence and respect. I expect we will stop filming out of respect too,” Morgan said.
British director Stephen Daldry, who worked on The Crown between 2016 and 2019, told Deadline in 2016 that pausing production would be a sign of respect on the Queen’s death.
“None of us know when that time will come, but it would be right and proper to show respect to the Queen. It would be a simple tribute and a mark of respect,” he said.
According to reports by the New York Post, insiders on the show confirmed that a discussion had already taken place among cast and crew, ensuring they were prepared.
“We have our own version of Operation London Bridge. This is particularly pertinent for if we are filming,” they told the Post. “Filming will shut down immediately if we are in production, for at least a week. There would also be lots of discussion about when to restart.”
Although the previous four seasons of The Crown have remained rather sympathetic towards the Queen, it’s hard to imagine how its producers will ensure no accusations of disrespect or “poor taste” be directed their way upon release. As Operation London Bridge commences, creators of the show are reportedly busy with their own emergency plans.
Beyond The Crown, Prince Harry’s memoir, ghostwritten by J. R. Moehringer, was rumoured to be set for release this year. If it is to cover elements of “Megxit” and the controversy around how the royal family allegedly treated his wife, Meghan, this may also be delayed out of respect for the late Queen.
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