Lavish Netflix drama The Crown returns today, picking up where it left off in the first series. Ten episodes trace the next 10 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s life, as imagined by writer Peter Morgan.
The production made a welcome return to London streets, along with a day’s shoot in Suffolk.
FilmFixer manages the film office service for Camden, Haringey, Southwark, Croydon and Screen Suffolk.
FilmFixer director Karen Everett says, “For this series we saw Suffolk double as Ghana, the HMS Belfast moored in the Thames in Southwark played the Royal Yacht Britannia, Addington Palace in Croydon was Clarence House and some really important scenes turned Victoria House in Bloombsury into the old ITN studios in Kingsway. “You can almost tell from the use of locations that this series moves outside the confines of the palace and gets among the people of the Commonwealth. Times really were changing. “In the trailer you can see the Ghanaian flag in Suffolk’s Elveden Hall, and the removal of the Queen’s portrait, as the colony gains its independence. The Queen famously danced with its new president Kwame Nkrumah during a state visit in 1961.”
The production filmed at Elveden Hall for a day in May, the last day of the shoot. “The stunning Eastern interiors are a hangover from when the Maharajah of the Punjab, Prince Frederick Duleep Singh owned the hall. He was creating these beautiful rooms in the 1870s. “Screen Suffolk was not directly involved in arranging this shoot. However, we like to think that our ongoing advocacy is partly responsible, and location managers are now more likely to ask themselves whether they could shoot the required scenes in Suffolk. We are delighted the county attracted this very prestigious, big budget production. This shoot is further testament to the county’s diversity and film-friendly attitude.”
In London, the HMS Belfast plays Prince Philip’s home for five months as he tours the far corners of the Commonwealth on the royal yacht, opening the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and visiting Papua New Guinea. In the show Princess Margaret says, “It’s not a royal tour, it’s a five-month stag night.” Karen Everett adds, “On the real tour the Prince had 240 men and officers for company, and for the shoot, he had a rather large cast and crew of 75 over two days in January this year.”
In March 80 cast and crew filmed in Bloomsbury Square where Victoria House played the iconic ITN studios which used to grace Kingsway in London. These scenes highlight the pressure on the monarchy to modernise. They are based on a real 1957 interview by Robin Day with the then Lord Altrincham, who recalled the events in a Spectator article in 1997. In particular Lord Altrincham believed the Queen should spend more time abroad, given that air travel was now possible. He thought she should even live abroad in at least one of the many Commonwealth countries outside the UK. As Lord Altrincham left the studio, a member of the League of Empire Loyalists, Philip Kinghorn Burbidge, slapped his face, later saying “I felt it was up to a decent Briton to show resentment.” Lord Altrincham later disclaimed his peerage and reverted to his birth name John Grigg.
Karen Everett says, “Lord Altrincham’s views at the time weren’t as unpopular as the media claimed. For the show, 100 cast and crew filmed inside Holborn’s Old Nick Pub in Sandland Street, where Lord Altrincham, together with fellow drinkers, watches the ITV interview, and finds himself being congratulated by those around him.”
There was more filming in Camden, Karen Everett says, “The Queen’s uncle the Duke of Windsor embarks from a train at St Pancras Station in the 1950s. And in Hatton Garden, a character takes a call in the bar of Ye Olde Mitre Pub. Rugby Street and Great James Street were also used.”
Along with the considerate and well managed filming, Karen Everett praised the production for its positive relationships with locals, while filming in their neighbourhoods.
She explains, “A local enthusiast trying to break into film was invited on a set visit, and generous donations were made to local residents groups Friends of Bloomsbury Square and the Rugby and Harpur Residents Association, both in Camden. “We encourage this sort of approach among productions, making sure that locals are really seeing the benefits of the filming on their doorstep.”