Sarah, Duchess of York and Princess Michael of Kent arriving in an open carriage to the Royal Ascot Races on June 17, 1986 at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire.(Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

The Crown season 6: how will the Netflix show handle Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson?

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We need to talk about The Crown season 6.

Fans of Netflix’s The Crown have been campaigning for more episodes ever since creator Peter Morgan announced that the upcoming fifth season – which will see Imelda Staunton step into Olivia Colman and Claire Foy’s shoes as Queen Elizabeth II – would be the show’s last.

And it seems as if viewers’ pleas have not fallen upon deaf ears, because (to paraphrase Ryan Gosling in The Notebook), “The Crown still isn’t over.”

That’s right: the critically-acclaimed TV show will now run for six seasons.

“As we started to discuss the storylines for series five, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons,” explained Morgan.

“To be clear, series six will not bring us any closer to present-day – it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”

You can read the announcement, which was shared via The Crown’s official Twitter account, in full below:

As reported by Deadline, The Crown’s sixth season will take the story up to the early 2000s, which means we won’t get to see the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, become part of future storylines.

There is, however, an opportunity for Morgan’s The Crown to do right by another duchess. 

We’re talking, of course, about Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson

What will The Crown season 6 look beyond the Sarah Ferguson headlines?

Oh yes: the Duchess of York has been a favourite – by which we mean a target, obviously – of the tabloids ever since she and Prince Andrew, the queen’s second son, married in 1986.

The press bullied the Duchess of York relentlessly over her red hair, her fashion choices, and her weight, even going so far as to dub her the ‘Duchess of Pork’ in headlines. They criticised her for leaving her daughter, Princess Beatrice, at home in the UK as she joined Andrew on an official tour of Australia. They fabricated a feud between her and Princess Diana.

In early 1992, months after her and Andrew’s separation, a tabloid published invasive photos – taken with a long-lens camera, naturally – of her sharing an intimate moment with financial manager John Bryan as they holidayed together. And, even after her divorce was finalised, the scrutiny didn’t cease: all you need do is type ‘Fergie’ into Google to see the long string of so-called scandals attached to her name.

“There’s always a twist of negativity and it just gets so sad and tiring,” Fergie said recently, reflecting on the tabloid bullying she’s been subjected to over the years.

“It’s hard and mean.”

The Royal Wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York on July 23, 1986 in London.The Royal couple playfully listening to the crowd outside Buckingham Palace calling for them to kiss.(Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
The Royal Wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York on July 23, 1986 in London.The Royal couple playfully listening to the crowd outside Buckingham Palace calling for them to kiss.(Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Will The Crown season 6 address Prince Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein?

Whether The Crown chooses to look beyond the tabloid headlines when it comes to Fergie remains to be seen, of course – just as it remains to be seen how the series will address Prince Andrew’s association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. 

As per his recent interview with BBC Newsnight, the prince said that he met Epstein in 1999, through Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.  However, a 2011 letter to the Times of London from the prince’s then-private secretary, Alastair Watson, suggests the pair may have known each other from the early 1990s. 

What we do know, though (thanks to a Channel 4 Dispatches programme) is that over 12 years, from 1999, Epstein and Andrew met on at least 10 occasions, the prince staying for several days at a time at Epstein’s residences in New York, Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands.

Epstein even attended an 18th birthday party for Andrew’s daughter, Princess Beatrice, at Windsor Castle in 2006, two months after he had been issued an arrest warrant for sexual assault of a minor. The prince said he was unaware of the warrant and that Epstein attended as Maxwell’s guest.

It is also worth noting that Prince Andrew’s alleged meal at Pizza Express on 10 March 2001 also occurs with The Crown season six’s new timeframe. 

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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