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Filming The Crown’s sixth and final season was a bittersweet experience for Imelda Staunton, especially after learning of Queen Elizabeth II’s death on set.

Lesley Manville, who plays Princess Margaret, and myself were filming, and at lunchtime, we were told we might hear some sad news [about Queen Elizabeth II],” Staunton, 67, revealed on the Friday, December 15, episode of The Graham Norton Show.

When asked whether she wanted to “stop” filming or “carry on,” Staunton chose the latter. “So, we finished the day, and you go home, and then, as we all found out at about 6 o’clock [on the] news, [Elizabeth had died],” she shared. “And then, weirdly, in the schedule, I had 10 days off, which was the 10 days of mourning.”

Having portrayed the late monarch on the Netflix drama since season 5, Staunton found herself “inconsolable” the night of Elizabeth’s death on September 8, 2022. “I would have, of course, been sad, but obviously, I think I was fueled by living with her for so long,” she recalled.

Related: Everything to Know About The Crown’s 6th and Final Season

The Crown is coming back for one more season — and filming got underway before season 5 even premiered. Shortly after filming on the Netflix drama’s sixth season got underway in summer 2022, the real Queen Elizabeth II died at age 96. Immediately after her September 2022 passing, her eldest son, King Charles III, assumed […]

During her 10-day break, Staunton kept away from news coverage aside from Elizabeth’s funeral, which was held on September 19, 2022. She returned to continue filming the series the day after the funeral.

“I think it was very difficult for people looking at me,” Staunton shared. “I got my head around it, got dressed, but then, we had a lot of [extras] in that day, and then ‘the shape’ walked on. And I think, for them, it was quite hard.”

Following news of Elizabeth’s passing last year, Netflix announced that production on season 6 would be paused out of respect. “The Crown is a love letter to her and I’ve nothing to add for now, just silence and respect,” show creator Peter Morgan said in a statement to Deadline at the time.

The Crown season 6, the second half of which premiered on Thursday, December 14, follows more recent years in the British royal family’s history, including Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton’s first meeting and King Charles III and Queen Camilla’s 2005 wedding.

Last month, executive producer Suzanne Mackie revealed that the show’s creative team never planned to take the series beyond the year 2005. “[Peter] always said, ‘I want to end around the time when Camilla and Charles got married,’” she told The Hollywood Reporter on November 17. “I always see it in a rather fairy tale way. Like, that’s the end of our journey: Peace is restored to the land, and they lived happily ever after.”

The series finale pays tribute to Elizabeth’s legacy by featuring a shot of all three actresses who have portrayed her on The Crown. Claire Foy and Olivia Colman’s versions of the character stand behind Staunton’s Elizabeth following Charles, 75, and Camilla’s wedding celebration.

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