Filming The Crown in the UK

The CrownNetflix drama The Crown has filmed in southern England to chart the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family from the late 1940s.

Six seasons of the historical saga are planned spanning the second half of the 20th century at a cost reportedly in the region of £100m. The first series has now launched on Netflix and Series 2 is currently in production.

Elstree Studios in north-east London is the production’s base of operations but filming for the first season took place mostly on location. Standing sets were built at Elstree of Buckingham Palace interiors and offices of 10 Downing Street, as well as the building’s famous front door. 

“We spent four or five months scouting before filming started,” says Pat Karam, the series supervising location manager, in comments to The Knowledge. “The UK is currently booming as a filming location, so to my awareness there was never a plan to base production anywhere else.

“The variety and amount of locations was one of the main challenges in terms of organising the filming schedule. It’s a TV production that operates on the scale of a big movie with multiple full-size units working at any one time.”

Lancaster House on Pall Mall in central London stood in for State Rooms of Buckingham Palace, but Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire in the east of England doubled for Westminster Abbey for scenes depicting Elizabeth’s coronation as Queen in June 1953.

The Crown

Scotland is home to the Royal Family’s Balmoral Estate and hosted scenes for The Crown, while South Africa stood in for Kenya, where Elizabeth was staying in early 1952 when she found out her father George VI had died and she was to become Queen.

Location scouting was ongoing throughout the production process and continues with filming for the second series.

The Crown exterior building

The UK has been more viable as a high-end TV filming location since the launch of a television tax credit three years ago. Before that several major British period dramas – including The White Queen – had to double northern Europe for England as they sought cheaper production costs.

Introducing a TV tax credit helped solidify the UK’s position as one of the top production hubs in the world, which means added pressure to develop more studio facilities in London and the English regions, as well as in Scotland and Wales.

Authorities recently announced plans to develop a new studio in Dagenham, east London, which could become the largest facility of its sort in the city. In the short-term, film and TV producers have the option of using existing warehouses and industrial buildings as adapted filming spaces should the purpose-built options prove unavailable.

Images: Netflix.


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