Queen Elizabeth in Netflix's The Crown.

‘The Crown’ Series Finale Gives Us Four Queens and a Funeral

After the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022, there was really only ever going to be one way Netflix’s The Crown could end. There would have to be a scene involving the monarch’s death and funeral, bringing to a close the decades of royal history The Crown covers.

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The show doesn’t actually show the death of Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton), mind. Instead, it brings back previous actors who played the queen in order to give the character—and the real woman—a grand sendoff.

What happens in the final episode of The Crown?

The final episode, titled “Sleep, Dearie Sleep”—and if you watched the queen’s funeral last year, you might know what that title refers to—shows the royal family in their usual turmoil. Prince Harry (Luther Ford) is a wild child constantly acting out after the death of his mother, Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki). He decides it would be a great idea to go to a costume party dressed as a Nazi. Yep, that’s something the real Harry very much did, and yep, it caused just as much backlash as depicted in the episode.

Prince Charles (Dominic West), on the other hand, seems to finally have some stability in his life. He wants to marry his mistress-turned-girlfriend Camilla (Olivia Williams). The queen has mixed feelings about it all but agrees that Charles and Camilla should wed.

In the middle of this, the queen attempts to plan her own funeral, and that’s where the funeral lament “Sleep, Dearie Sleep” comes in. As the monarch, Elizabeth knew all her life that her future funeral would bring the entire nation to a standstill, and thus, plans had to be made. Death is very much on her mind, especially since she’s bereft of both a sister and a mother now, and she begins to wonder if she should abdicate and pass the throne along to Charles.

We know, of course, that she didn’t choose that option in the end. But the The Crown shows her navigating the decision by imagining conversations with her young self (Claire Foy) and her mature self (Olivia Colman). Yes, the finale of The Crown brings all three series leads together! When I heard about this, I didn’t think it would work, but it actually feels very earned. It’s certainly better than the scenes of Diana’s ghost.

What is the final scene of The Crown?

Elizabeth, standing alone in St. George’s Chapel, imagines her own funeral. We get four different versions of the queen in this scene.

Wait, four? Yep, there’s a teenage Elizabeth in the mix as well—Viola Prettejohn played WWII-era Princess Elizabeth in the very good episode “Ritz.” We saw her enjoying VE Day as a normal person, unburdened by the responsibilities of leadership. It’s this Elizabeth who steps out and salutes her older self as she takes note of her grand coffin and the solemn notes of “Sleep, Dearie Sleep.”

Then, the elderly Elizabeth walks forward, and behind her both the Colman and Foy Elizabeths appear. They stand together for a moment, listening to the music. Then, Staunton’s queen exits the chapel, walking to a huge door that opens to reveal a bright white light. Elizabeth goes through it, symbolically “dying,” and the credits roll.

And that’s the end of The Crown. Don’t worry, though—there’s bound to be plenty more shows about Queen Elizabeth in the years to come.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.