“The Crown” Features All 3 Incarnations of Queen Elizabeth II in Emotional Show Finale

By: Lauren | Published: Dec 28, 2023

Netflix’s beloved series The Crown has come to an end, as the streaming site just aired its final season.

Fans of the show have generally loved the introspective and thought-provoking final episodes, including the last scene that includes all three actresses who portrayed Queen Elizabeth II. NOTE: There are a few spoilers here for those who haven’t seen it yet.

The Crown: Netflix’s Story of the Royal Family

Since its first season aired on Netflix on November 4, 2016, The Crown has been one of the world’s favorite shows.

Promotional poster for Netflix’s The Crown, illustration of Queen Elizabeth II at three ages of life

Source: @TheCrownNetflix/X

Over six its seasons, it follows the life of the Royal Family of the United Kingdom, specifically the experience of Queen Elizabeth II, from her coronation to her final days.

Portraying One of the Most Famous Women in the World

For almost a century, Queen Elizabeth II has been one of the most famous, beloved, debated, and even hated women on the planet. Portraying her was a challenging and incredible undertaking for the three actresses who braved the role.

Queen Elizabeth II arrives for the state banquet in her honor at Schloss Bellevue palace

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Because the show followed the entire adult life of the former Queen, each one played the Queen at a different age. And while the entire world was anxious that one wouldn’t be as good as the other, in the end, they each received rave reviews.

The Young Queen

The show begins as a young Princess Elizabeth gets the call that her father, King George, has passed away. Within seconds, she becomes the reigning Queen of Great Britain.

Claire Foy as a young Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown

Source: Reddit

Claire Foy plays the young, newly-appointed Queen with absolute perfection. Her fears, anxieties, and dedication to learning what being a monarch make Claire, as well as the Queen herself, endearing and lovable.

The Queen in Her Prime

During the Queen’s reign through her middle age years, she is portrayed expertly by Olivia Coleman.

Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown

Source: Shutterstock

The show explains the struggles she experiences attempting to be both a mother and a Queen, and the almost crippling inability to do both jobs well.

The Queen as the World Remembers

And finally, Imelda Staunton is Queen Elizabeth II, as the modern world knows and remembers her.

Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown

Source: IMDB

Imelda’s incredible acting is something to behold. However, in the last few seasons, the Queen’s story has taken a backseat to the story of Charles and Diana until the final half of season six, when the Queen comes back with a bang.


The Final Episode of The Crown

The very last episode is set in 2005 and shows Imelda as the Queen, essentially reliving her life and looking forward to what the future may hold.

Lesley Manville on the red carpet/Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon in a green floral gown

Source: IMDB/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Queen was then 80 years old and had recently lost both her mother and her sister, Princess Margaret, played in the final seasons by Lesley Manville.


Taking Stock of One’s Life

In the episode, it shows the Queen questioning what is next for herself, her son, Prince Charles, and the monarchy itself.

Prince Charles of Windsor in his 40s/Dominic West on the red carpet

Source: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images/Britannica

She clearly shows the immense struggle she feels while trying to decide whether or not she should abdicate the throne for her son to finally rule, or remain Queen until her last breath.


A Changing Monarchy

In the real world, it has been clear for nearly a decade that the general public adores Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, more than they ever truly loved Prince Charles or, for some, the Queen herself.

Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy as Prince William and Kate Middleton in The Crown

Source: IMDB

In the final episode, the Queen quite clearly understands that the popularity of Prince William, and her lack thereof, may be the sign she was waiting for to move on and allow the next generations to lead.


The Crown’s Incredible Dream Sequences

As the Queen contemplates everything, her middle-aged self, played by Olivia Coleman, appears to her as if in a dream.

Buckingham Palace, London, 1972. Left to right: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward, and Prince Charles

Source: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

And she tells herself that to abdicate is the path. The younger Queen says, “Stepping down is the right thing to do, as Queen and as a mother.”


Her Youngest Self Has Advice as Well

While the Queen is preparing her abdication speech she plans to give on Charles’ wedding day, her youngest self, played by Claire Foy, appears in another dream.

Claire Foy playing Queen Elizabeth II in season one of The Crown

Source: IMDB

And she has quite a different message. The young Queen says, “Monarchy is something you are, not what you do.”


The Queen’s Final Moments

As the world knows, the Queen’s younger self won that internal debate. She lived out every day of her very long life as the reigning monarch.

An empty St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, England

Source: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

In the very last scene of The Crown, the Queen attends her own funeral, knowing and proud that she dedicated her life to Great Britain and the monarchy, just as she promised herself she would all those years ago.