The Crown is a record-breaking Netflix series, infamously known for portraying the history of the British Monarchy, under the direction of Piers Morgan. It narrates the story of larger-than-life characters, inspired by real events and provides next to accurate representation with a lot of attention given to the architectural details in every scene.

 It depicts the story of Queen Elizabeth II: the political and personal events that shaped her reign. It is the closest depiction of the British monarchy, public appearance, and their private lives. In this depiction of stories of larger-than-life characters, it becomes crucial to make the viewers understand the scale through architecture and to understand the themes and narratives built upon real-life events in the relevant timezone. 

Iconic landmarks and heritage buildings of Great Britain have been represented, setting up a mood for every scene depicted. It was not just the display of architectural marvels from the exterior but a lot of meticulous attention given to the smallest of interior details that set the series abuzz for its precise narrative. It is also history, so a lot of background research into the architectural details has brought about a transformation in the style of narrative. Let’s look at some of the iconic buildings, and scenes that have played a crucial role in building and setting up the scale and narrative throughout the 6 seasons of the series.

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The Crown Series On Netflix_©https://www.koimoi.com

Britain’s Iconic Architectural Marvels That Were Recreated

Although the filming locations of some of the iconic buildings were not done in their real locations, similar locations in the region were used to recreate them. For example, Buckingham Palace was replicated at Wilton House and Lancaster House, Balmoral Castle was replicated by The Ardverikie Castle in the Scottish highlands, Somerley House as The Highgrove, Burghley House in Lincolnshire, and Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire for Windsor Castle, Wrotham Park as the Gatcombe Park, and Ragley Hall in Warwickshire as Althorp. These Buildings served as a stunning setup for the storytelling to unfold authentically. The replicas, although not the real locations, served the purpose of building the narrative and helping viewers understand the complexities involved in the story.

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Opulent Recreations in the series_©https://theglossarymagazine.com

Architectural Characteristics That Played A Crucial Role in  The Story-Telling 

From the death of King George to the Coronation of the Late Queen Elizabeth II and her reign and supremacy in the Nation, To the Life of the Late Princess Diana, each of the scenes captured has given meticulous attention to architectural elements to form a backdrop in the authentic portrayal of their lives. Intricate interior details, display Britain’s Political mood in every period, the Prime Ministers that served in different centuries and their engagements with the Queen, All of these scenes give a clear understanding of the nature of the period engaging the viewers and making them understand their history. 

The Buckingham Palace: It stood as the central ground wherein the entire story revolved as it is the primary residence of the British Monarchy. The palace was designed in a neoclassical style with a magnificent proportion to accommodate the grandeur and personify itself into timelessness. Throughout the series, the palace is used to depict the emotions and feelings of the royals within the family, with the use of light and shadow depicting the rise of power through its grandeur. In its depiction of a sense of dark thematic visuals of the building capture the essence of the time and emotions of the people during “The Great Smog Of London ” and through the course of the Second World War. 

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The Buckingham Palace in the series©https://x.com/Framestore/

Balmoral Castle: The Balmoral Castle, famously known for being the queen’s favourite getaway features several important scenes called the “Balmoral test” when both Lady Diana and new British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are invited to be tested for their roles in the monarchy.

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A scene from the Balmoral Castle_©https://www.rachaeldickzen.com

The Windsor Castle: The Windsor Castle in Berkshire is one of the royal residences, It is among the oldest with its rich and opulent housing quarters. 

The Westminster Abbey: The holy church of Westminster is designed in Gothic style with intricate details, stained glass windows and stone carvings. The series depicts its high ribbed vaulted ceilings and intricate interiors also reflecting upon the cultural significance in the history of Britain. It becomes the setting for several important occasions within the monarchy like the Wedding and coronation of the Queen, and the series very well displays the grandeur of the church and how prestigious ceremonies have been occurring in the church, making it a crucial crux into the storytelling. 

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A Scene From the Wedding Of the Queen At Westminster Abbey_©https://wall.alphacoders.com/

High Grove: It is located in a countryside backdrop in Gloucestershire. It was home to both Lady Diana and His Excellency King Charles. And is still Home to the King.

Althorp: The ancestral home of Lady Diana where she grew up and spent her childhood, Also the Place where she first meets Prince Charles dressed as a tree for a school play. The grave of the Late Princess is also part of the same estate in the middle of a lake on a secluded island.

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Althorp Estates_©https://www.historichouses.org

Other Featured Buildings: Although the shooting locations in the series of some of the depicted buildings were different, the series was able to match the exact grandness of the relevant historic and architectural elements of every location. Some of the other pertinent buildings that have played a crucial part in the storytelling are Clarence House, Kensington Palace, Gatcombe Park, Sandringham and St.Paul’s Cathedral.

Opulent Grand Interiors

In the entire series, in every set location the architectural details displayed in the interiors were kept authentic and to its true nature of existence. The pomp and grandeur of all the locations displayed a sense of the monarch’s rich and opulent displays. Every scene is a depiction of the rich upholstery and use of colours that are unanimous with the palaces. Antique portraits and paintings reflect the historical evolution and significance of the place. Every set had been designed based on the period of its storytelling, with wooden chairs, gilded accents, draperies, with even the cutleries depicted with authenticity. Each of the scenes cleverly used lighting and lighting pieces to narrate the thematic approach to the scene, and the depiction of the character’s mood. Grand chandeliers, decorated mirrors, paintings in the ceiling and small lamps, showcasing the opulent nature of the residences. 

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Interiors In the series_©https://www.washingtonpost.com

The series “The Crown” has excelled in its portrayal of the British Monarchs, and their life in the public domain and privately. With the use of definitive architectural elements as a backdrop to display the opulence, the series does not fail to make you understand the scale. It helps us relate with the characters, and understand the periods in which they have been portrayed through architectural elements, invoking emotions of the character.  

The last scene from the series filmed at Westminster Abbey becomes a metaphor for the Queen’s passing away with the background score of “Sleep Dearie Sleep”.The series easily makes you move with the narration with precise depictions of the different periods, and the use of architectural nuances, light and darkness to evoke emotions. It not only helps us understand history from a different perspective but also makes us realise how architecture has consistently been part of the display of the power of the monarchs.

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The last scene in the series at Westminster Abbey_©https://somanythoughts.substack.com/p/smt-on-the-crown-season-6-episode-f4e

Citations for websites:

  1. House & Garden (2019). The extraordinary story behind the sets of The Crown season 3. [online]. Available at:https://www.houseandgarden.co.uk/article/the-crown-season-3-set-design [Accessed date: 08/June/2024].
  1. Washington Post/Jennifer Hassan (2022). A trip through ‘The Crown’: Fake Buckingham Palace and a royal yacht. [online]. (Last updated: November 15, 2023). Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/tips/the-crown-filming-locations-britain/ [Accessed date: 09/June/2024]
  2. Glossary /Luciana Bellini (2022). Discover the lavish UK filming locations used in season 5 of The Crown. [online]. Available at:  https://theglossarymagazine.com/travel/the-crown-5-filming-locations-uk/ [Accessed date: 09/June/2024]
Author

Fariya is a budding Designer & Writer wanting to create an impact in the Architectural Writing Landscape. She is a Poet herself, and is passionate about history, traveling and teaching.