According to the Hollywood Reporter, the location that The Crown uses as its ersatz Buckingham Palace — since getting permission to film in the real one is pretty much a guaranteed nonstarter — is called Lancaster House. In addition to its starring role on this show, the property has been used as a Buckingham proxy by The King’s Speech, Downton Abbey, and The Young Victoria.
According to Vanity Fair, the elaborate gown that the Queen wears during her coronation wasn’t made by the show’s costume department; it was actually borrowed from Swarovski, which produced a replica of the gown in honor of the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Season 1 costume designer Michele Clapton said that the Queen’s wedding dress was the single most difficult costume to pull off. About the monumental team effort, she said, “For the train, there was six people working across six or seven weeks just embroidering and making the train. We had another girl who just embroidered the bodice, which took three weeks. Then we had another team embroidering the dress.”
For comparison, here is a photo of the real Queen in her wedding dress.
In Season 2, the Queen meets John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy. Jackie’s luminous reputation and stylishness makes her feel old-fashioned in comparison, a feeling that is exacerbated when Jackie speaks dismissively of Elizabeth and Buckingham Palace at a dinner party.
This tension between the two women personally and as public figures is highlighted by their costumes. While Jackie wears a sleek, strapless gown, the Queen’s dress is much less fashionable. Season 2 costume designer Jane Petrie told CR Fashion Book, “I pared down [Jodi] Balfour’s dress as much as possible to reflect its simplicity and to contrast with the business and fussiness of Elizabeth’s dress.” For instance, the real-life Jackie’s dress wasn’t strapless, but Balfour’s was. Petrie noted that next to Jackie’s dress, Elizabeth’s gown is “sort of comical.”
Olivia Colman played the Queen in Seasons 3 and 4, but she told Vanity Fair that she struggled to emulate the Queen’s famously stiff upper lip. Colman explained, “My problem is, I emote. The Queen is not meant to do it.” But she had “a little trick” to help her.
Colman said, “Whenever anyone is telling me something sad, which just makes me cry, they give me an earpiece and they play the shipping forecast.” Listening to this even-keeled and likely very boring radio broadcast gave her something to focus on other than all those pesky, unroyal emotions.
In the same interview, Colman said that her costar Helena Bonham Carter, who played the Queen’s younger sister Princess Margaret in Seasons 3 and 4, helped her out with the scenes in which she had to speak French.
Colman said that while she was “all right with French from school,” Carter’s accent is “impeccable.” To help her out, Carter recorded videos of herself pronouncing Colman’s French dialogue. Colman said, “She took the job so seriously. She did it so I could see her face, and then I got some voice recordings as well, where she would start from the beginning. … She’s a really extraordinary woman.”
According to IndieWire, Emma Corrin, Season 4’s Princess Diana, worked with dialect coach William Conacher to perfect Diana’s accent. Conacher previously worked with Kristen Stewart, who played the princess in 2021’s Spencer, and Naomi Watts, who took on the role for 2013’s Diana.
In an interview with IndieWire, Josh O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles in Seasons 3 and 4, said that the first meeting between Diana and Charles — in which Diana, dressed as a nymph for a production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, is trying to avoid being seen by the prince, on her older sister’s strict orders — was partially inspired by the meeting between the young lovers in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and, specifically, the fact that they first look at each other through a fish tank.
In the same interview, O’Connor recalled that his efforts to perform a pivotal fight scene between Charles and Diana during Episode 6, “Terra Nullius,” was hampered by an unusual adversary: flies. Like, so many flies.
O’Connor said, “I got kind of screwed, basically. They shot Emma’s coverage, unbelievably brilliant, went really well. When they turned around on me, the flies descended. It was like 4:30 p.m., whatever, and honestly, I could not do a single take without a fly going into my eyeball — and, like, big flies — or in my mouth.”
Corrin added, “It was funny for the first, like, couple of takes. And then we did a lot of takes and it was still happening.”
In an interview with Vogue, Gillian Anderson said that while the hair and makeup team tried giving her prosthetic teeth to help her play Margaret Thatcher, it was ultimately decided that Anderson would portray the so-called Iron Lady with specific movements and ways of positioning herself, rather than artificial prostheses.
Anderson recalled, “[Thatcher] had very distinctive teeth. … Someone built a prosthesis that matched, but it was too much and didn’t look natural at all. We tried different ways of coloring and staining, making a gap, but in the end, we decided against it.”
She went on, “I figured out a way to hold my mouth so that I had more of an overbite. The mixture of that, the tilted head, and her movements wound up being enough.”
When Emma Corrin and Emerald Fennel, who plays Charles’s longtime love interest and eventual wife Camilla Parker Bowles, rehearsed a crucial scene between their characters, in which they fight through subtext for the sole claim to the love of Prince Charles, the director brought in Josh O’Connor to help them plot out the complicated power structure at play.
Corrin told Deadline, “The director, Benjamin Caron, said, ‘Okay, whichever of you feels you have the power in the moment, you can take Josh’s hand.’ And it was just Emerald holding his hand the entire time, and me trying to get in there. But it was interesting, as the scene went on, that I was able to get in there when Diana starts to bite back.” They said that the acting exercise allowed the cast to “acknowledge the elephant in the room without acknowledging it directly,” which you could say was the core of Charles, Diana, and Camilla’s Season 4 storyline.
According to a Netflix behind-the-scenes video about Season 4, the pandemic stopped production when there were only six days of shooting remaining on the schedule. One scene that hadn’t been shot yet was the Episode 9 avalanche that nearly killed Prince Charles (and did kill his friend). Jessica Hobbs, who directed episodes 7, 9, and 10 of Season 4, said that losing the ability to shoot the scene as they originally planned it allowed the creative team to hone in on Charles’s individual perspective during the accident.
Hobbs said, “If you see an incident from a kind of universal point-of-view, it takes away the personal, and by doing this in the [editing], it forced us into the absolute specific personal point-of-view, particularly for Charles, of what that felt like, and how he could never really describe that to someone else. So I think it opened up, you know, a good world of possibilities.”
During an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Prince Harry shared his thoughts on The Crown. He said, “They don’t pretend to be news. It’s fictional. But it’s loosely based on the truth. Of course it’s not strictly accurate. … It gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle, what the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else, what can come from that.”
He went on, “I’m way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family, or my wife, or myself, because it’s the difference between…[the show] is obviously fiction, take it how you will, but this is being reported as fact, because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with that.”
He then suggested that Homeland and Billions star Damian Lewis as a potential choice to play him.
Speaking of Prince Harry’s chill take on the show, Matt Smith, who played Harry’s grandfather Prince Philip in Seasons 1 and 2, said during an appearance on Today that the prince once approached him at a polo match and greeted him by saying, “Granddad.”
Smith added that he heard that the Queen watched the show “on a projector on a Sunday night.” However, Philip wasn’t quite so taken with it.
Smith recalled that when a friend of his asked the Prince at a dinner if he watched The Crown, Philip responded, “Don’t be ridiculous.”
And finally: Following the Queen’s death in September, Deadline reported that The Crown had paused filming. A Netflix source confirmed that the show wouldn’t film on the day of the Queen’s funeral, either, “as a mark of respect.” This was apparently the creative team’s plan from the beginning. In 2016, director Stephen Daldry said, “None of us know when that time will come but it would be right and proper to show respect to the Queen. It would be a simple tribute and a mark of respect. She’s a global figure and it’s what we should do.”