As The Crown wrapped up Part 1 of its final season, the royal family grappled with the unimaginable loss of Princess Diana’s death… and got some help from the other side.
Episode 4 picks up with a late-night call at the Queen’s Balmoral residence, where a staffer wakes up Elizabeth and Philip to tell them Diana’s been in a car accident and is in the hospital. Dodi was killed at the scene, and his father Mohamed takes a helicopter to Paris to see the tunnel where it happened, praying to Allah for strength before identifying his son’s body through sobs. At the hospital, a doctor emerges looking weary and talks to his nurses. We can’t hear what he says, but everyone bursts into tears, and when the staffer returns to the Queen with news, we can’t hear what he says, either — but Charles’ expression tells us everything. Diana is dead.
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In a phone call with Camilla, Charles admits he hasn’t even woken up the boys yet to tell them: “While they’re sleeping, they still have a mother.” But he does eventually break the bad news to William and Harry, and the devastation on the boys’ faces is just crushing. Charles wants a royal airplane to bring Diana’s body back home, and while Philip protests that she’s not a royal anymore, Elizabeth overrules him. She doesn’t want today’s church service to be changed in light of Diana’s death, though: “We want everything to be as normal as possible.” Meanwhile, Mohamed looks through Dodi’s belongings and finds the gold watch and engraved poem he gave Diana. He beams that they were engaged to be married, and he orders the things returned to Diana’s family: “This tragedy will bring us together.”
At church, Harry fights back tears, and Charles’ eyes are red and raw. He flies to Paris to visit the hospital, loudly weeping over Diana’s body, and the Parisian people clap and wave as the hearse drives through their streets. On the plane home, Charles marvels: “One of the busiest cities in the world, and you brought it to a standstill.” Then he’s visited by the spirit of Diana (!), who tells him: “You know, I loved you so much. So deeply. But so painfully, too.” She thinks it’ll “be easier for everyone with me gone,” but he protests that it won’t. He’s consumed with regret, and she tells him it’ll pass, but he adds wistfully: “No, it won’t.”
Elizabeth has ordered all the TVs off to protect the boys, but Charles thinks they should see the massive outpouring of love for their mother. Philip pointedly reminds him that he and Diana were divorced, “an amputation that you fought so hard for.” They want just a small private funeral for the Spencers, but Charles pushes for a grand state funeral in London. He thinks the people need to see them grieve and “for you to be mother to the nation,” which makes Elizabeth snap back that she will not be lectured on how to show emotion. “I let her down in life,” Charles declares, “but I won’t let her down in death.” Meanwhile, a mourning Mohamed is comforted by the ghost of Dodi, who implores him to not chase approval from the Western world, and Mohamed asks his son to forgive him for his unfair expectations.
In all the confusion, William goes missing, and the family searches for him in the Scottish highlands to no avail. He eventually comes back on his own, but his rash disappearance makes Elizabeth think that she does need to do something to calm the nation’s nerves. Charles urges her to make a public statement, and while she resists giving into raw emotion (“the Crown rises above impulse”), Charles reminds her that Diana showed the people raw emotion, “and they loved her for it.” Later, Elizabeth is visited by Diana’s ghost, who reassures her that change doesn’t have to be scary: “You’ve taught us what it means to be British. Maybe it’s time to show you’re ready to learn, too.” That night in bed, Elizabeth tells Philip they’re heading back to London, and when he tries to question her, she adds: “You heard me.”
Elizabeth puts her thoughts into writing on the plane home and then addresses the nation in a televised speech from Buckingham Palace, noting the extraordinary expression of grief at Diana’s passing. She pays tribute to Diana (“I share in your determination to cherish her memory”) as we see footage of the real-life mourners in London. William and Harry walk behind their mother’s coffin at the funeral, and William asks Philip: “Why are they crying for someone they never knew?” Philip tells him: “They’re not crying for her. They’re crying for you.” Elizabeth finishes her speech, and that night, she kneels down by her bed to pray.
What’d you think of Part 1 of The Crown’s final season? And those ghost versions of Diana and Dodi? Give the episodes a grade in our poll, and then hit the comments to share your thoughts.
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