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November 25, 2023

The Sense of an Ending: What Can Screenwriters Learn From the Final Season of The Crown

The Crown has consistently mesmerized audiences with its blend of historical accuracy and dramatic storytelling.

As we delve into the final season set between 1997 and 2005 and the twilight of the late Queen’s reign, the spotlight intensifies on Princess Diana and the Royal Family, offering a rich canvas for screenwriters to explore character complexity and thematic depth. 

This analysis unpacks key elements from the first part of Season 6, offering insights for screenwriters seeking to weave compelling narratives in their works.

Character development: Diana and the Royals

The character development in Season 6 of The Crown is exemplified through nuanced portrayals, particularly of Princess Diana. For instance, in "Persona Non Grata," when Diana lobbies Prime Minister Tony Blair for an official role, we see a woman who is not just a tabloid figure but someone actively seeking a meaningful place in a traditional institution. This scene underscores her ambitions and showcases her complex relationship with the Royal Family.

Diana, Princess of Wales in a heated conversation with Prince Charles
The Crown explores the complex character of Princess Diana and the fallout from her death in August 1997

Prince Charles's character also undergoes significant development. A pivotal scene is when he prepares for Camilla's 50th birthday party in the same episode. His determination to integrate Camilla into his public life, despite the Queen's disapproval, reflects his internal struggle between personal desire and royal duty. This scene effectively portrays Charles as a character torn between love and obligation, adding depth to his role in the narrative.

Queen Elizabeth's character is also intricately developed. A notable example is in "Two Photographs," where her reaction to the news of Diana’s weekend in Paris reveals much about her. Her concern is less about the moral implications and more about the potential political and public fallout. This scene subtly conveys the Queen's constant balancing act between personal feelings and the crown's image, highlighting her pragmatic approach to royal duties.

In these examples, screenwriters can observe how the series develops its characters through complex and conflicting motivations. Each character is shown to be multidimensional, with personal desires, fears, and duties that often clash with one another.

This approach to character development not only makes for a compelling narrative but also offers a more realistic portrayal of historical figures. Screenwriters can learn from this method to create characters that are relatable, flawed, and profoundly human.

Themes of public image vs. private reality

Season 6 adeptly navigates the dichotomy between the public image and private lives of the Royals. It explores how the characters are shaped by, and react to, the relentless media scrutiny.

Dominic West as Prince Charles in the Crown posing in the Scottish Highlands with his two children Prince William and Prince Harry in 1997
The Crown explores the complex relationship between the media and the royal family and how that affects their lives

This tension is a driving force in the narrative, revealing the characters’ vulnerabilities and strengths. For screenwriters, the key takeaway is the power of thematic exploration. By weaving themes that resonate on a human level, such as the struggle between personal desires and public responsibilities, writers can create stories that are both relatable and thought-provoking.

Crafting tension and conflict

The interpersonal conflicts and societal pressures portrayed in Season 6 of The Crown are exemplary in building narrative tension. 

Take, for instance, the scene where Diana decides to return to London in "Dis-Moi-Oui." The decision itself, spurred by Mohamed's push for her to marry Dodi, creates an internal conflict for Diana that resonates throughout the episode. It's not just about her choice, but about what this choice represents in terms of her independence and her struggle to find personal happiness amidst public scrutiny.

Another compelling example is in "Two Photographs," where the Royal Family learns about Diana's weekend in Paris. The way the family reacts, especially the Queen, to this news showcases the constant battle between personal feelings and public duty. The tension is palpable as the characters grapple with the implications of Diana's actions on the monarchy's image.

In "Aftermath," the scene where Charles flies to Paris to accompany Diana's coffin back to the UK is particularly poignant. Here, the conflict is as much internal as it is external. Charles's vision of Diana during this journey and his subsequent expressions of regret add a layer of emotional complexity that is both moving and revealing. This scene effectively showcases the deep impact of Diana's presence and the void her absence creates.

For screenwriters, these scenes exemplify how effective conflict is not just about dramatic confrontations; it’s about how these conflicts are rooted in character and context. It's also about the emotional journey of the characters and how their internal and external conflicts intersect to drive the narrative forward.

By carefully analyzing these scenes, screenwriters can glean valuable lessons on how to weave conflict into their narratives in a way that is both authentic and engaging. The Crown's approach to tension and conflict serves as an excellent model for crafting compelling and emotionally resonant stories.

Dialogue and subtext

The dialogue in The Crown is a delicate dance of what is said and what is left unsaid. The screenplay’s use of subtext, particularly in critical scenes, reveals the characters' true emotions and intentions. 

This nuanced use of dialogue not only advances the plot but also deepens our understanding of the characters. Screenwriters can take note of how impactful dialogue isn’t always about verbosity; sometimes, it’s the silences and the subtleties that speak volumes.

Beneath The Crown

As The Crown draws to a close, it’s clear it’s greatest strength is in the way Peter Morgan’s writing has invited us to look behind the palace gates as if the royal family are normal people.

Beyond the surface, this is not a drama commenting just on politics or the royal family but to the intricate tapestry of human experience. More importantly, it’s also about how that plays out in full view of the public and with the pressures of the monarchy. 

What are your thoughts on Season 6 of The Crown Do you have a favorite moment or a character arc that stood out? How are you going to emulate that in your own writing?

Remember if you want to craft your own royal drama Arc Studio is FREE today.


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The Sense of an Ending: What Can Screenwriters Learn From the Final Season of The Crown
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

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