Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully on Sept. 8 at the age of 96, her family confirmed in a statement. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow,” the statement continued. The news led to an outpouring of responses from royals and celebrities around the world. If you got to know the royal family (as many viewers did) through the Emmy-winning Netflix series The Crown, you may be wondering: How will The Crown deal with the Queen’s death?
The show doesn’t claim to be a completely accurate retelling of Queen Elizabeth II and her family’s lives, of course. A Netflix spokesperson once told Variety it’s “a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events.” But it does try to get close with the help of “a dozen exceptionally bright researchers, script editors and historians,” showrunner Peter Morgan told The Hollywood Reporter.
In other words, an event as significant as Queen Elizabeth II’s death would definitely be explored in detail by The Crown — if the show had plans to cover this portion of history, that is. However, Morgan never intended for The Crown to get so close to the modern era. “I try to keep focused on history and not the present day,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I like to make sure there is at least a generation between the events I’m writing about and what’s going on all around me.”
The Crown Season 5, which debuts in November, will reportedly include the death of Princess Diana, which happened in 1997 — and Season 6 will reach as far as the early aughts, according to Deadline. The sixth and final season “will not bring us any closer to present day,” Morgan reiterated to the outlet. “It will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”
While you can be sure that Morgan isn’t rushing to make any edits or script changes, The Crown may still be affected by Queen Elizabeth II’s death in a major way. A source recently told The New York Post that the show has its “own version of Operation London Bridge,” referencing the protocol (which was discussed in The Crown) of what should happen after the monarch dies. “This is particularly pertinent for if we are filming,” the source added. “Filming will shut down immediately if we are in production, for at least a week. There would also be lots of discussion about when to restart.”
This indeed seems to be the plan for filming Season 6, as Morgan told Deadline in a Sept. 8 email. “The Crown is a love letter to her and I’ve nothing to add for now, just silence and respect,” he wrote. “I expect we will stop filming out of respect too.”
Even though Season 5 is just two months away, The Crown’s reported Operation London Bridge could feasibly include other changes, too, like postponing the season premiere out of respect for the royal family. It wouldn’t be the first time a project related to the royals has been pushed back for this reason. Last year, for example, Netflix indefinitely postponed the premiere of the U.K. Channel 5 documentary, Diana: The Interview That Shocked The World, following the death of Prince Philip — and today, the doc is not streaming on Netflix. Granted, this was not a Netflix original like The Crown is, but it still shows that the streamer treads carefully when the royal family is involved.