The Crown Filming Locations: Buckingham Palace and the Royal Residences
Castles, palaces, stately homes and naval colleges give The Crown filming locations for Buckingham Palace and the royal family’s residences.
The most expensive TV series ever made has put together the grandest backdrops in the country and guess what? Fans can visit most of them!
One or two are off-limits to the public apart from rare open days and some perspectives of the Queen’s London residence were built on set. But those aside, you can walk through the most iconic rooms of The Crown’s Buckingham Palace filming locations, as well as the show’s Windsor Castle, Balmoral and more.
Where Was The Crown Filmed?
The Crown was filmed at a combination of lookalike properties, including some of England’s grandest Palladian mansions. If you’ve visited a lot of stately homes, you might have spotted The Crown filming locations Buckingham Palace is made up of are scattered across the Home Counties.
The show’s producer, Antony Eaton doesn’t believe in cutting corners, saying “if you’re telling a story about one of the wealthiest families in the world, you’ve got to live up to that”.
Unfortunately for location hunters, that attention to detail and grand £100 million budget also means some scenes are filmed on an extensive sound stage at Elstree Studios to get the effect just right.
Seasons 3 and 4 will feature more Elstree shoots, with expansions of the Buckingham Palace set and more to give the cast and crew more flexibility (and let them film pivotal scenes in secrecy).
How Accurate Is The Crown?
The Crown’s filming locations recreate some of the highest-profile places in the country. Left Bank Pictures’ lavish series has to convince us that we’re stepping back in time – and behind closed doors with one of the world’s most famous families.
Just to complete the circle, the real Elizabeth II may have watched The Crown at one of the castles depicted in the series. The Earl and Countess of Wessex are said to have shown an episode to Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. Mike and Zara Tindall, and Princess Eugenie, have all praised the show.
“She’s brilliant, the one who plays the Queen. I think it’s a great show in terms of how they delivered it.”
Vanessa Kirby, the show’s Princess Margaret in Seasons 1 and 2, relayed a similar story from Princess Beatrice. On the other hand a friend of the show’s Prince Philip, Matt Smith, received a different response from the real Duke of Edinburgh.
Some of the moments the programme documents are so well-known through newsreel footage that they are part of history. And while they show’s locations aren’t all identical, most are a close match.
A couple of filming locations are on the doorsteps of the royal residences they replicate, and most have a royal connection of their own.
But if you want to follow in the footsteps of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh you’ll find yourself on a mystery tour of London that starts just around the corner and ends across the river.
“[as] a designer you welcome the chance to use a room that doesn't shout but that says to the audience, without any need of a caption, "Buckingham Palace."”
Martin Childs, Production Designer
Netflix’s version of Buckingham Palace may look familiar in more ways than one. Some of the Buckingham Palace interior shots were produced on a sound stage. Others were actually filmed just next door to the palace, in the similarly-styled Lancaster House.
Queen Victoria suggested that Lancaster House was actually a bit grander. She’s said to have told the resident Duchess of Sutherland: “I have come from my house to your palace”.
Lancaster House was built in the same era as the royal residence’s current incarnation.
It shares its Georgian architectural style and ornate décor with the Palace – in fact, Lancaster House set the trend.
Built next to St James’s Palace for George III’s son, the Duke of York, its interiors were designed by architect Charles Barry. Barry is known for his work on the Houses of Parliament and Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, where the infamous Profumo affair began (the scandal features in Season Two of The Crown).
The Long Gallery and opulent staircase are regular features in the Netflix show. Look out for Lancaster House’s lush carpets, gilding and the staircase’s glowing lamps onscreen. Onscreen, the opulent principal staircase rises up amongst coloured marble columns and dimly glowing lamps before splitting off in two directions in the imperial style.
Buckingham Palace’s own Grand Staircase was designed by John Nash – and it’s actually a bit more ornate than Lancaster House’s. It rises from the Marble Hall then breaks up into shorter stages. Midway up, two flights split off to sweep back over the hall, while the central flight rises towards the State Rooms.
This neo-classical mansion doesn’t just look the part. London’s stateliest of homes has played the royal residence onscreen before, so it’s already made a name for itself as the next best thing.
Its strong resemblance to the Queen’s residence has made the mansion beside St James’s Palace a filmmakers’ favourite. The ‘palace’ is so well-suited to its role of unofficial stand-in that it crops up time and time again. And because both properties have changed so little over the past century and a half, Lancaster House pops up in period dramas set anywhere over the last six monarchs’ reigns.
Emily Blunt visited the house as the 19th Century monarch in The Young Victoria. As well as the staircase, the state room was garnished with lilies for the Coronation Ball scene.
Downton Abbey’s Lady Rose, played by Lily James, was presented as a debutante here by Elizabeth McGovern’s Lady Grantham, all under the guise of Buckingham Palace. If you look closely you might recognise the distinctive staircase and the audience room.
If you’re wondering why debutante balls haven’t featured in The Crown, they ended in 1958.
Queen Victoria pioneered the debutante presentation system, but Elizabeth II introduced garden parties as a way of greeting a wider cross-section of society.
If you want to compare The Crown’s Buckingham Palace filming location with the real thing, it’s open to the public every summer offering ticketed access to the rooms and a changing special exhibition.
"When we went to Buckingham Palace and went into the throne room, I was astonished at how similar it felt!"
Eve Swannell, Line Producer
Wilton House is a stately home on the edge of Salisbury. It’s the work of Inigo Jones and John Webb, and the walls are gilded like Lancaster House’s, with columns rising around its doorways.
The house was built for Sir William Herbert, Knight of the Garter and Master of the Horse, in the mid-16th Century.
Herbert was close to the Tudor throne – he had married Anne Parr, sister of Henry VIII’s final wife, Catherine, and was one of Edward VI’s guardians. King James VI and I visited the house in the 1620s.
If you know where to look, you’ll see the family’s grand connections making their way onto the screen.
The Double Cube Room is usually seen when things reach crisis point – look out for Van Dyck family group portrait which bears down from the far wall.
It commissioned by the 4th Earl of Pembroke in 1635 and is Van Dyck’s largest work. It depicts the Earl and his well-connected second wife and children, including his son-in-law, the Earl of Carnarvon (whose family seat, Highclere, has been thrown into the spotlight as Downton Abbey).
You’ll notice that certain shots filmed in the Double Cube Room are framed around it. Elizabeth looks small by comparison, with the weight of hundreds of years of history staring down over her.
Actually, the room was specifically designed to display the life size portrait and the other Van Dyck paintings glimpsed onscreen. One gives away more of the house’s own royal connections – it depicts Charles I’s children, the future Charles II, James II and Queen Mary, close friends of the family.
And it boasts almost as many royal connections onscreen. Wilton House’s cinematic history goes back to the 1970s, but from the late 1990s onwards it’s been a go-to location for palatial grandeur.
It’s appeared in The Madness of King George for interior shots of Windsor Castle, and Queen Victoria biopics Mrs Brown and The Young Victoria (Rosenau Castle in Coburg, and Buckingham Palace interiors).
More recently it’s popped up as Outlander’s Versailles filming location in the show’s second season. And period drama fans might also recognise the Wiltshire stately home as Pride and Prejudice’s Pemberley filming location in the 2005 movie.
But the house has been hosting the performing arts since the 17th Century. Shakespeare’s own theatre troupe performed at Wilton in 1603, for William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke.
And in the 1930s, Cecil Beaton took a series of whimsical photographs of Wilton House and its residents – so it’s always been at the heart of culture.
You can visit the house on dates between Easter and September. There’s even an adventure playground in addition to the requisite tea room, but check before you travel in case of last minute changes to the opening schedule.
State Banquet Scenes
State banquets are usually planned a year in advance, and take Buckingham Palace staff four months to prepare. Which puts the scale of The Crown’s Season 1 state banquet scene in perspective.
It’s an emergency plan to patch up relations with the US. But with the tables immaculately set and the silverware polished, it’s cancelled at the last minute.
Buckingham Palace’s own state banquets have been held it the Ballroom since 1914, where the seating plan is set in a horseshoe shape. The Lancaster House room seen onscreen looks more like Buckingham Palace’s Marble Hall.
In Season 2, the dinner in honour of President Kennedy hits a speedbump too, when Jackie Kennedy openly criticizes the Queen and the event. The First Lady really did make those unfortunate remarks but things played out differently – and the Queen’s meet-up with JFK’s wife didn’t happen.
“The idea that Mrs Kennedy returned for a further meeting in order to explain herself to the Queen, as in the episode, is fabrication.”
Hugo Vickers, Historian
As part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, it’s not generally open to the public. But the Historic Houses Association organise tours every so often, so it’s worth checking. Visitors seeking this exclusive experience must pass security clearances though.
The Buhl Room
Early in the first season of The Crown, King George VI’s operation takes place in one of the Buckingham Palace’s grand suites. It’s not a pleasant moment, but it’s actually one of the most accurate scenes.
In 1951, a surgical team was brought to Buckingham Palace’s Buhl Room. Its windows are actually part of the very public frontage, opening out onto the Mall.
The Crown’s Buhl Room filming location was Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London. A real surgical team from Guy’s Hospital carried out the procedure on a lifelike mannequin, to give the sequence authenticity.
Goldsmiths’ Hall is another Crown location that’s not easy to visit – the general public aren’t usually admitted to the home of the Goldsmiths’ Company. But if you plan in advance, you can visit on one of its rare open days.
The Audience Room and the Library
With its stunning façade and vast parklands it’s a filmmakers’ favourite, secluded from passers-by but close to Elstree and Central London. It’s another beautiful Palladian home that blends with the décor of Lancaster House, Wilton House and of course, the real Buckingham Palace.
You’ve seen a lot of Wrotham Park’s music room onscreen. It’s used as The Crown’s audience room, so hardly any major plots have passed it by. This piece of the Buckingham Palace puzzle is also used for library scenes (look out for Wrotham Park’s library when Elizabeth hires a private tutor).
The house’s elegant design by Isaac Ware Isaac Ware designed the mansion in the Palladian style of the day, hides an unfortunate start. Admiral John Byng commissioned the house in 1754 but not long afterwards, the Admiral was made an example of after a mission against the French navy went badly wrong.
During the subsequent Court Martial, he was sentenced him to death. As he was executed in 1757, it’s unlikely that he spent much time in Wrotham Park. Admiral Byng’s nephew inherited the estate, and his descendants still live there today.
The house can be hired for special events but is closed to the public. With its stunning façade and vast parklands it’s a filmmakers’ favourite, secluded from passers-by but close to Elstree and Central London.
Buckingham Palace Exterior Shots
The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, a filmmakers’ favourite, is used as the courtyard entrance of Buckingham Palace. It is set to appear again in the second season, with Matt Smith filming among the distinctive white pillars.
On Left Bank Pictures’ vast corner of Elstree Studios on the outskirts of London, The Crown’s production team recreated the most frequently used rooms. They also built an imposing replica of Buckingham Palace’s façade. It includes the balcony, which was constructed on a grand scale to host moments the world has committed to memory.
As if it wasn’t impressive enough, The Crown’s Buckingham Palace set in Elstree is being given a makeover for Season 3 and 4. Left Bank Pictures have secured permission for the next ten years, so they can custom-build even more of the Windsors’ world.