After six seasons, three monarchs, and 143 accolades, Peter Morgan’s opulent series about the royal family has come to an end. The last set of six episodes was released on Netflix this week, ultimately bringing an end to the long-running drama.
Can The Crown redeem itself in the final stretch? Somewhat, but the earlier episodes in sepia tone still hold the top spots in our countdown. As the series comes to an end, here is our ultimate ranking of every episode, from worst to best…
60. Aftermath (season 6, episode 4)
Greetings, beloved symbol of England. At the top of our list is the presence of Diana’s spirit. The ethereal princess (played by Elizabeth Debicki) flirts with Charles and condescends to the Queen from the afterlife, which would be commendable if it weren’t so comical.
Episode 7 of season 6, titled “Alma Mater”.
A cheesy Hallmark movie that depicts the student love story of William and Kate. Carole Middleton (played by Eve Best) is portrayed as a desperate social climber, while Harry is a drunken and humorous character similar to The Sherminator from American Pie. The main characters, who are dressed in gilets, have little chemistry and are compared to two polo mallets.
Season 6, episode 3: “Say Yes”
The tragic events of that day in Paris are depicted in a suffocating level of detail. Following an uncomfortable proposal, Dodi and Diana attempt to escape the relentless paparazzi. This is juxtaposed with William’s act of killing a stag, which is a lackluster repetition of a scene from two seasons prior.
57. Ruritania (season 6, episode 6)
The story starts with a terrible dream where Tony Blair is crowned as King, accompanied by a choral rendition of Things Can Only Get Better. The Prime Minister successfully resolves the Kosovo war alone, but is unable to gain the support of the Queen’s cherished Women’s Institute. It is a fulfilling tale.
Episode 2 of season 5 of “The System”
Morgan received backlash for implying a romantic relationship between Prince Philip and his carriage-driving friend Penny Knatchbull, and was also criticized for using the tragic death of her young daughter as a storyline.
55. Willsmania (season 6, episode 5)
William struts around Eton with the attitude of Kevin the Teenager and frequently engages in heated arguments with his father. However, at least Jonathan Pryce gives a standout performance as the wise and charming Prince Philip.
54. Misadventure (season 2, episode 1)
The Queen discovers a photo of a ballerina among Philip’s belongings. Surprisingly, it is never brought up again. Their troubled marriage takes place during the chaotic Suez crisis.
53. Decommissioned (season 5, episode 10)
Metaphors are used to describe the situation. The Queen makes the reluctant decision to retire the Royal Yacht Britannia, which Charles believes is outdated and no longer suitable for its intended use. He suggests that the yacht’s successes are now a thing of the past. What could he be implying?
52. Hope Street (season 6, episode 9)
Kate Middleton’s transparent outfit on the runway sparks a frenzy in the media, but it turns out to be a disappointing event. Theories of a conspiracy surrounding Princess Diana’s car accident are debunked with macabre simulations. Prince William utters the phrase “wacky baccy” and the passing of the queen mother fails to make a significant impression.
The first episode of season 5 is titled “Queen Victoria Syndrome”.
Unfortunately, Imelda Staunton’s rule begins with some turbulence. Purists were displeased with the part where Prince Charles orchestrates a covert rendezvous with the new Prime Minister, John Major (portrayed improbably by Jonny Lee Miller), to garner support for the Queen’s abdication. Major himself deemed it “a truckload of spiteful lies.”
Episode 1 of Season 6 is titled “Persona Non Grata.”
The ominous foreshadowing of the tunnel accident is oddly presented through an unidentified Parisian walking his dog late at night. Hand over the dog waste bag.
49. Gunpowder (season 5, episode 8)
Morgan’s clumsy metaphors reach a nadir when Martin Bashir interviews Diana on 5 November 1995. It’s intercut with William’s Eton history teacher explaining Guy Fawkes’ gunpowder plot, hammering home words such as “treason”, “bombshell”, “dynamite” and “explosive”. OK, OK, we get it.
48. Coup (season 3, episode 5)
As the Queen is preoccupied with her horse racing manager, Porchey, a group of elite individuals conspire to remove Harold Wilson from power.
47. Imbroglio (season 3, episode 9)
The royals have rarely seemed more hypocritical than when meddling in Charles and Camilla’s romance. There’s no evidence of Lord Mountbatten and the queen mother colluding to split them up, let alone of Princess Anne singing along to David Bowie.
Episode 7 of Season 5, titled “No Woman’s Land.”
Bashir resorts to deceitful tactics to secure an interview, while Diana, feeling isolated, hangs around a hospital in London to arrange a chance encounter with attractive heart surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan. When he eats some chips from a vending machine, she flirtatiously remarks, “That’s surprisingly attractive.”
45. Olding (season 3, episode 1)
Olivia Colman takes on the role of the Queen, who becomes a terrible spy hunter. It is revealed that Anthony Blunt, the one in charge of inspecting the Queen’s paintings, is a spy for the KGB. Quite uncomfortable.
There are two pictures featured in season 6, episode 2.
The standout episode of the first part of season six – though that isn’t saying a lot – was the one that strayed away from Di and Dodi the most. It examines the use of two photographers in the media battle: a cutthroat Italian paparazzo and a friendly portrait photographer at Balmoral. Smile for the camera.
Episode 2 of season 2 of A Company of Men.
The Queen’s Christmas message included her admission of missing HRH Boaty McBoatface, while Philip transformed into a naval action figure with a beard, sweater, and lifelike eagle eyes. This is relatable.
42. Fagan (season 4, episode 5)
Due to Margaret Thatcher’s policies, unemployment rates increased and Michael Fagan, feeling desperate, enters the palace and wakes up the Queen who is wearing a nightgown. He proceeds to have a poorly written conversation with her about the state of the country, but not before requesting a cigarette.
41. Lisbon (season 2, episode 3)
In this particular episode, Philip displays unpleasant behavior and causes trouble for the palace staff as they work to prevent a scandal that could harm his reputation. He also becomes upset over being ranked lower than Charles and is ultimately given the title of prince.
Episode 8 of season 3, titled “Dangling Man”.
The love triangle between Charles, Camilla, and Andrew Parker Bowles turns into a rhombus when Princess Anne becomes involved. Derek Jacobi gives a standout performance as the ailing Duke of Windsor, but his interactions with the Queen are conjectural and superficial.
The sixth episode of season 5 is titled “Ipatiev House”.
The episode begins with a shockingly violent scene – the brutal slaying of the Romanovs. Throughout the episode, there are more subtle hints and insinuations about Philip’s connection with Penny Knatchbull.
38. Moondust (season 3, episode 7)
Mountbatten, there is an issue. Prince Philip has developed a strange fixation on the 1969 moon landings and is feeling down about his own accomplishments. Essentially, he is a 48-year-old aristocrat who is sulking because he is not an astronaut.
37. Avalanche (season 4, episode 9)
During a trip to Switzerland for skiing, Charles becomes trapped in an avalanche. This leads to him and Diana reassessing their failing marriage, resulting in him strengthening his relationship with Camilla and her continuing her affair with James Hewitt. This turn of events is disheartening.
Episode 10 of season 2, “Mystery Man,” features the number 36.
The Profumo scandal hits too close for comfort, as rumors circulate about Philip’s attendance at Stephen Ward’s scandalous gatherings as his osteopath. It’s all suggestive and frustratingly inconclusive.
The fifth episode of the first season of “Smoke and Mirrors.”
During her successful first season, the Queen made a rare mistake by allowing Philip to handle her coronation, despite it being against protocol. However, he ultimately refused to kneel, which was a false portrayal created by Morgan. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor witnessed the event on TV, resembling the obnoxious family from “Gogglebox.”
Episode 5 of season 5, titled “The Way Ahead.”
The episode discusses the bizarre “tampongate” phone conversation between Charles and Camilla, highlighting the irony that reality can be stranger than fiction. The episode concludes with an unexpected scene of Charles breakdancing at a Prince’s Trust event, which surprisingly took place a few years prior.
33. War (season 4, episode 10)
Mrs. Thatcher holds onto her position, going as far as requesting the Queen to dissolve parliament for her – a fictional and unnecessary embellishment. As Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage falls apart, the older members of the royal family advise them to endure it.
Episode 1 of season 4, titled “Gold Stick.”
Gillian Anderson has appeared as Thatcher, using a strained voice that resembles a character from Spitting Image. According to the BBC’s arts editor Will Gompertz, she is constantly turning her head, as if searching for something, and exaggerates her Thatcher impersonation to the point where it can be difficult to watch.
Episode 10 of Season 3, titled “Cri de Coeur”.
After her marriage begins to crumble, Margaret turns to landscape gardener Roddy Llewellyn for solace and ultimately attempts to overdose on sleeping pills. Helena Bonham Carter delivers a poignant performance. Her family is distant and unsupportive.
The second episode of the fourth season of The Balmoral Test.
Thatcher and the royals engage in a conflict, as she visits their Scottish castle and struggles to adapt to their elitist attitudes. Diana impresses them by successfully shooting a CGI stag and is encouraged to marry Charles.
29. Annus Horribilis (season 5, episode 4)
The Windsor Palace catches fire. Anne and Charles experience marital problems. Fergie has her toes sucked. However, one bright spot in Imelda Staunton’s dull tenure was her moving speech about her family’s tumultuous year.
28. 48:1 (season 4, episode 8)
The performance by Colman and Gillian Anderson is impressive in a highly political episode that showcases the strategic conflict between Thatcher and the Queen regarding the implementation of sanctions on South Africa.
27. Margaretology (season 3, episode 2)
Bonham Carter shines as Princess Margaret, charming Lyndon B Johnson (played by Clancy Brown) with her carefree and playful demeanor. She even challenges him to a drinking competition and recites bawdy limericks. What a spirited woman.
The concept of inheritance in the episode “The Hereditary Principle” from season 4.
An emotionally-charged installment focused on the Queen’s relatives, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, who were confined to institutions and overlooked. Mencap commended the show for featuring actors with learning disabilities.
25. Windsor (season 1, episode 3)
As the new Queen becomes accustomed to her responsibilities and Philip expresses frustration, the exiled Duke of Windsor (portrayed by Alex Jennings with captivating villainy) comes back to his homeland for his brother’s funeral, causing numerous shocked reactions.
24. Couple 31 (season 5, episode 9)
Charles and Diana’s marriage officially ends in a personal moment. While reminiscing in her Kensington Palace residence, she attempts to make an omelette but ends up with scrambled eggs. Anyone for a metaphorical breakfast?
23. Gloriana (season 1, episode 10)
Vanessa Kirby gives a stellar performance as Margaret, who is reunited with Group Captain Peter Townsend after two years of being apart. They are hoping to become engaged, but will the Queen follow through on her promise to allow them to marry? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The first season ends on a cold note.
22. Favourites (season 4, episode 4)
This touching story discusses the events surrounding Mark Thatcher’s disappearance during the Paris-Dakar rally. While serving as Prime Minister, Thatcher referred to him as her most beloved child, but the Queen denies having a favorite child, despite widespread knowledge that she does.
21. Paterfamilias (season 2, episode 9)
In 2018, Stephen Daldry was awarded an Emmy for his exceptional direction in a drama series that delves into the emotional reasoning behind the behavior of the royal family. The show features Charles as a young boy navigating his way through his father’s former boarding school, while also flashing back to his father’s own childhood.
Episode 1 of season 1 of Wolferton Splash.
The debut episode had a sophisticated yet slightly stale feel, taking place in a somber castle and centering on the sickly King George VI (Jared Harris). It caused a stir when Matt Smith, playing a young Prince Philip, was shown getting out of bed with his backside exposed. Smith lightheartedly remarked, “It was the most impressive acting I did throughout the entire series.” Playful.
19. Beryl (season 2, episode 4)
A segment discussing the topic of marriage. The Queen and Philip’s 10th anniversary celebration is juxtaposed with Princess Margaret’s tumultuous romantic history. When the fragile Margaret crosses paths with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones (played by Matthew Goode), their attraction is palpable. This leads to a risqué photograph being taken.
Episode 8 of Season 1, titled “Pride & Joy”
Fashion enthusiasts were captivated by the behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a royal tour wardrobe, as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip set off on a six-month journey of waving. Meanwhile, Princess Margaret takes on her sister’s official duties and attempts to inject some excitement into them, only to be told by Winston Churchill that being personable is not necessary for the role.
17. Ritz (season 6, episode 8)
Lesley Manville, the brilliant actress, finally takes the spotlight. The Queen and Princess Margaret reflect on their memories of VE Day, a time when the Queen used to enjoy herself before Margaret’s health declines as she leaves for Mustique. The story is touching, melancholic, and powerful.
16. Mou Mou (season 5, episode 3)
Who knew Mohamed Al-Fayed could be sympathetic? The dodgy fifth season’s standout episode was largely royal-free. Salim Daw beautifully portrays the rise of the Cairo street hustler to British high society. En route, he employs the Duke of Windsor’s West Indian butler Sydney Johnson to tutor him in taste and refinement.
15. Fairytale (season 4, episode 3)
Emma Corrin shines as she joins the tumultuous House of Windsor as Lady Diana. In a taxi, she listens to Edge of Seventeen and rollerskates to Duran Duran on her Walkman. She even wears the iconic Emanuel wedding dress. The lurking presence of Camilla foreshadows future problems, as does the ironic episode title.
14. Sleep, Deary, Sleep (season 6, episode 10)
Fortunately, Morgan successfully arranges a grand finale suitable for a monarch. Specifically, three monarchs. As the Queen’s emotions are stirred by preparations for her own state funeral, she contemplates abdicating the throne. With Claire Foy and Colman making spine-tingling appearances, it is a moving tribute to the deceased ruler.
The power of knowledge is great (season 1, episode 7)
The Queen, feeling inadequate compared to statesmen and lacking Churchill’s wise advice, decides to hire a personal tutor to catch up. The story explores themes of the mind versus the body and men versus women, until the Queen finally finds her voice in a triumphant manner.
12. Bubbikins (season 3, episode 4)
This episode delves into Prince Philip’s background and showcases Tobias Menzies’ outstanding performance as he allows a camera crew to film inside Buckingham Palace. It is a modern approach. In addition, his mother, the chain-smoking nun Princess Alice, visits and manages to win over a reporter from this newspaper who was initially skeptical of the royal family.
Episode 6 of season 4, titled “Terra Nullius.”
The highly-publicized tour of Charles and Di diverts the attention of the Australian public from advocating for a republic. Diana is adored by all, except for her bitter husband. The Queen’s reserved reaction to Diana’s warm embrace upon her return carries significant significance.
10. Assassins (season 1, episode 9)
Throughout all six seasons, the Queen’s relationship with her horse-loving friend Porchey is a mixture of joy and sorrow. In one scene, she seeks refuge with him to avoid conflicts in her marriage to Philip. John Lithgow delivers a standout performance as Churchill, who must come to terms with his declining abilities during a portrait sitting for his 80th birthday.
“Mrs Kennedy, I am writing to you in regards to season 2, episode 8.”
Not as formal as a typical episode but more focused on rumors. The awe-struck members of the royal family try to hide their admiration as the US First Couple visits. Initially, there is competition between the women, but they eventually bond over shared experiences. The Queen’s sincere letter to Jackie following her husband’s death adds a touching conclusion.
Prince of Wales (season 3, episode 6)
Two of our Top 10 highlights include trips to Wales. This intricate episode, written by James Graham, focuses on Charles (portrayed brilliantly by Josh O’Connor) being instructed to learn the language before his investiture as Prince of Wales. Initially, there is tension between Charles and his tutor Edward Millward (played by Mark Lewis Jones), but a friendship forms and Charles becomes more understanding of Welsh nationalism. However, the Queen later corrects his views.
7. Gelignite (season 1, episode 6)
The Crown presents a romantic drama. Margaret, played by Kirby, delivers a heart-wrenching performance as she is forbidden from being with her beloved Group Captain Peter Townsend (played by Ben Miles). “Hearts can heal,” says the stern “manipulative palace controller” Tommy Lascelles (played by Pip Torrens) as he banishes Townsend to Belgium. This tragic romance resembles a combination of Downton Abbey and Pride & Prejudice.
6. Vergangenheit (season 2, episode 6)
A complex episode delving into the troubling connections between the royal family and the Nazi party. The Duke of Windsor seeks to rejoin public life, but with the release of the incriminating Marburg Files, it is revealed that he harbored strong sympathies for fascism and even planned to reclaim the throne in the event of a German invasion. The Queen responds with subdued anger towards her unsettling uncle. The episode concludes with impactful archival images of the Windsors alongside Adolf Hitler.
5. Marionettes (season 2, episode 5)
A thought-provoking analysis of modernizing the monarchy. Following the Queen’s unpopular fictional speech at a Jaguar factory, journalist Lord Altrincham (portrayed excellently by John Heffernan) pens a critical article and is called to meet with the Queen to offer advice on improving her public perception. She ultimately decides to broadcast her 1957 Christmas speech on television.
Episode 4 of Season 1: Force Majeure
One of those early episodes that’s as much history lesson as prestige drama. Like a proto pandemic, the 1952 Great Smog shrouds London in lethal pollution for a week and causes thousands of deaths. The repercussions hit home for Churchill when his favourite Downing Street secretary is fatally hit by a bus due to poor visibility on the streets. The smog scandal nearly brings down the PM, but prompts the Clean Air Act in 1956.
3. Matrimonium (season 2, episode 7)
The doomed love between Princess Margaret and the charming rogue Antony Armstrong-Jones is the most alluring plot in the second season. Their affair, reminiscent of Burton and Taylor, reaches a climax when Margaret learns of her ex, Group Captain Peter Townsend’s engagement to a much younger heiress. Margaret pushes Tony to propose in order to outshine her former love. This rare display of artistic and bohemian flair stands out in the rigid world of the Windsors. As the couple zooms away from Buckingham Palace on his motorcycle, it becomes an unforgettable image.
2. Hyde Park Corner (season 1, episode 2)
The second installment marked a pivotal point in our realization that The Crown was a standout show. During a Commonwealth tour with her spouse, 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth receives news at their Kenyan safari lodge that her father, King George VI, has passed away. Actress Foy brilliantly portrays the conflicting emotions as she comes to terms with not only the loss of her father, but also her new role as sovereign. Both Foy and Smith deliver exceptional performances with minimal dialogue. As duty beckons, Elizabeth’s reign commences, setting the stage for six seasons of captivating drama.
1. Aberfan (season 3, episode 3)
This is a powerful portrayal of the Crown. The tragedy of a colliery slag heap collapse, resulting in the deaths of 116 children and 28 adults, is vividly depicted. The Queen’s usual emotional restraint causes her to postpone her visit to the village affected by the disaster, until Prime Minister Harold Wilson (played by Jason Watkins) challenges her to show compassion – foreshadowing her later response to Princess Diana’s death. The final scene shows Colman’s character in tears as she listens to a hymn at the funeral of the children, dedicating the episode to the heartbroken community of Aberfan.