The Netflix series “The Crown” reportedly costs more to produce than any other television series in history. Its four seasons so far have cost an estimated $260 million. The largest contributor to the hefty pricetag is location shooting, accounting for some 75 percent of the show’s costs. Last Friday, I took a virtual tour of the locations intended to simulate Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, and Balmoral.
Led by Curt Di Camillo, curator of special collections for American Ancestors, we zoomers saw interiors of the many grand houses and other buildings where The Crown is filmed. Ironically, according to Di Camillo, many of these interiors are far nicer than anything in the actual palaces, especially so since only the very best room (or two) is used from each. When an actor exits from one room into another or into a spacious hallway, the first room may be in one grand old house and the hallway in another. That’s the magic of continuity.
One “economy” the filmmakers employ is to film everything they can in Britain or nearby. When Diana visited “New York,” for example, that was Manchester. When Diana and Charles visited “Australia,” that was Spain.
Queen Victoria was the first monarch to live in Buckingham Palace, still referred to as the “new palace.” It replaced St. James Palace as the sovereign’s primary residence, and you’ll recall that the U.S. Ambassador is still referred to as the ambassador to the Court of St. James. Sites where Buckingham Palace scenes are filmed include:
The Old Royal Naval College, which derives more money from renting itself out for filming than most (or was it all?) other sources. (The Painted Hall is pictured above.) Also partly filmed there: Patriot Games, The King’s Speech, The Madness of King George.
Osterley House—You may recall when Prince Philip’s mother came to live in the Palace, there was a particular staircase he climbed in order to visit her. This was Osterley House’s Robert Adam’s staircase (pictured). The house is situated in Osterley Park, one of the largest open spaces in London. Also filmed there: Mansfield Park, Young Victoria, Great Expectations.
Wilton House in Wiltshire is the home of the Earls of Pembroke; an early one was the patron of William Shakespeare. The Smoking Room serves as the Queen’s office; its dining room as the Palace dining room, and the Double Cube Room (30 by 30 by 60 feet in length) has appeared several times. It’s where JFK and Jackie meet Elizabeth and Philip. It’s where Diana practices dance. The Double Cube Room and the Single Cube Room next door, between them, display a large collection of paintings, notably 14 van Dykes.
You may recognize these rooms (pictured below) from Bridgerton, as well, and as some of the interiors of Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice—alas, the horrible 2005 version with Kiera Knightley, not the 1995 TV series with Colin Firth. Of much greater significance, in World War II, these rooms were the headquarters for D-Day planning.
Next Week: Part II on 1/26