‘The Crown’ Star Imelda Staunton Found Filming Final Episodes After Queen Elizabeth II’s Death ‘Very Odd’

The actress tells TheWrap her return to production was the day after the monarch’s funeral

The Crown Season 6
Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Crown" Season 6 (Photo Credit: Netflix)

For Imelda Staunton, filming Season 6 of “The Crown” was “very odd” after Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

“My first day of filming back was the day after the funeral,” Staunton told TheWrap. “I think it was very difficult for other people looking at me. I got dressed, and I had to get my head around that. Then, for other people, I think they found it very odd. It was very odd. Of course it was.”

Because of filming schedules, Dominic West, who plays Charles, Prince of Wales, didn’t return to set until weeks after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Sept. 8, 2022. Even though he wasn’t on set immediately after, he felt the impact of the Queen’s death on production.

“The fact we were making a show about this woman who had such a momentous life and that just died, I know that must have affected Imelda a lot. And I think it affected us all in some way,” West told TheWrap. “Mainly, it affected me in that I was glued to the television a lot.”

West also believes that elements in the final episode of Season 6 “must have been influenced” by the Queen’s funeral. Though “The Crown” ends over a decade and a half before the Queen’s death last year, its finale is haunted by questions of endings and legacies. Framed around the long-awaited wedding between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), the finale instead revolves around Queen Elizabeth herself. Guided by her middle-aged self (portrayed by Olivia Colman), she contemplates stepping down from the throne and handing her crown to Charles. At the same time, her much younger self (portrayed by Claire Foy) advises her to stay true to her promise to her people, as well as her duty to retain the crown until she dies.

Threaded throughout the episode are details that would later appear in the real Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. For example, Elizabeth asks her favorite bagpipe player to perform “Sleep, Dearie Sleep” for her and later requests it for her funeral. Likewise, the Range Rover hearse that would eventually carry Prince Phillips’ coffin in 2021 also makes an appearance.

The Crown Season 6
Dominic West as Prince Charles in “The Crown” Season 6 (Photo Credit: Netflix)

“[Peter Morgan] must have been influenced by her funeral, by what happened in her funeral and what she chose to have in it,” West said. “It must have affected Peter’s writing a lot.”

Staunton revealed that the loss was “terribly sad” for her as it was for most people in the U.K., but that it was “slightly heightened because of the material we’re working with.” She also imagined the death was especially hard for series creator Peter Morgan, who has been writing about Queen Elizabeth II since the 2006 film “The Queen.”

The passing also gave West a rare opportunity to better understand that man who would become King Charles.

“I spent two years scrutinizing this guy, really everything about him, and reading every news article about him even though it’s about the present man, who’s 20 to 30 years older than the events that I’m trying to depict him in,” West said. The actor noted that he had been “desperately” trying to figure out what Charles is like in his private life.

“You don’t get many clues because the only people who know are very loyal and very discreet. So TV coverage of the coronation and him getting irritated about that pen, that is gold dust for me,” West said, referring to an incident that happened shortly after King Charles’ ascension to the thrown where he became increasingly frustrated by a fountain pen. “It’s that and glimpses of whatever [Prince] Harry says in his book. You devour it, like a truffle.”

Through it all, Staunton is ultimately appreciative of getting to play this historical figure. “There’s a lot that she has to carry and absorb. But she never seemed to me — and certainly Peter never wrote her to be — a woman who was in any way victimized by it or going, ‘Do you know what I’ve been through?’ and all that sort of thing,” Staunton said. “It’s wonderful to play someone who is stoic without being a martyr.”

All episodes of “The Crown” are now available to stream on Netflix.


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