Historic houses used for filming of series four of The Crown
- Credit: Des Willie/Netflix
The fourth season of global hit The Crown arrives on streaming platform Netflix on Sunday, November 15. With the production once again partly filmed on location in Hertfordshire, Alan Davies looks behind the scenes of the Netflix series based at Elstree Studios.
Hertfordshire viewers binge watching the new series four of The Crown might recognise a few familiar locations.
Knebworth House once again reprises its role as the on-screen double for the inside of Balmoral, the Queen’s Royal Deeside residence in Aberdeenshire.
The Gothic mansion previously appeared as Balmoral in the opening Claire Foy/Matt Smith series of the Netflix hit.
Brocket Hall on the outskirts of Welwyn Hatfield is one of the stately homes used for Kensington Palace in season four.
Locations for Buckingham Palace include Wrotham Park near Potters Bar, and Moor Park.
Sets were also built at Elstree Studios for the Queen’s famous London residence.
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Mark Walledge, supervising locations manager for The Crown, said: “In terms of the major locations on Season 4, we of course returned to our established Royal Houses, including for interiors of Buckingham Palace, Lancaster House, Wilton House, Goldsmiths Hall and Wrotham.
“Exteriors of Buckingham Palace were split between the backlot at Elstree plus Greenwich Naval College and Moor Park.”
Wrotham Park also features as Princess Anne’s country residence Gatcombe Park, while scenes at Clarence House were filmed on location at High Canons in Borehamwood.
Season four of The Crown, which arrives on streaming site Netflix on Sunday, sees the 1970s drawing to a close.
Queen Elizabeth, played by Oscar-winning The Favourite actress Olivia Colman, and her family find themselves preoccupied with safeguarding the line of succession by securing an appropriate bride for Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), who is still unmarried at 30.
As the nation begins to feel the impact of divisive policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson, tensions arise between her and the Queen which only grow worse as the PM leads the country into the Falklands War, generating conflict within the Commonwealth.
While Charles’ romance with a young Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) provides a much-needed fairy tale to unite the British people, behind closed doors, the Royal Family is becoming increasingly divided.
Written by Peter Morgan, The Crown’s fourth season also stars the Emmy-nominated Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, Emerald Fennell as Camilla Parker Bowles, and Charles Dance as Lord Mountbatten.
Roughly 90 locations were used in the series, and about 75 per cent of filming took place on location away from the production base at Elstree Studios in Hertsmere.
All the main royals – plus series newcomers Margaret Thatcher and Lady Diana – were on set at Knebworth House for scenes at Balmoral.
As well as Knebworth, the Ardverikie Estate in Kinloch Laggan, Newtonmore, Inverness-shire, was also used for the Balmoral estate.
Ardverikie is also famous as being the fictional ‘Glenbogle’ in TV series Monarch of the Glen.
Balmoral plays a significant role in this season, as Olivia Colman explains.
“Balmoral is where the family properly gets to escape, enjoy the outdoors, and do what they really love,” says the Broadchurch star.
“And actually, I think we all enjoyed our weeks filming in Scotland more than any others.
“It was so breathtakingly beautiful, so friendly, filming outside by those lochs and on those hills was thrilling.”
Balmoral features heavily in episode two of the new season.
The episode’s synopsis states: “When Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis pay their first visit to holiday with the Royal Family in Balmoral, they wonder if they will pass the infamous ‘Balmoral Test’.”
Tobias Menzies plays Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh in the series.
Of the significance of Balmoral, he says: “My understanding is that it is where the Royal Family is closest to being a family, where they are most at ease and relaxed.
“It tends to be a summer thing, there are fewer servants, they wear their own clothes a bit more, it’s a bit less ceremonial and structured, as close as that family gets to hanging out as a family and having a summer holiday.
“So into that mix, Peter [Morgan] throws both Thatcher and Diana. Thatcher arrives.
“It’s a tradition that all PMs are invited to Balmoral in August and she has just become the new PM so she travels up with Denis.
“It doesn’t go well, she is a fish out of water, she is bemused, humiliated and confused by the strange rules, and by the end of it, it sets up some distance between Thatcher and the Queen, which then plays out through the season.
“By contrast, Diana is invited by Charles to Balmoral at the beginning of their relationship and she passes with flying colours and is a natural, understands how it works, the different personalities.
“It’s a real success so it’s the beginning of her journey into this family.”
Royal Households featured in Season 4 of The Crown
Eight Royal residences feature in The Crown – Buckingham Palace, Balmoral, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Sandringham, Highgrove, Clarence House, and Gatcombe Park.
• Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle, a large estate house situated in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, has been a residency for the Royal family since 1852 and is currently owned by Queen Elizabeth II.
Ardverikie Estate, Kinloch Laggan, Newtonmore, Inverness-shire
• Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official home of the Queen and has been the seat of the monarchy since 1837.
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Peninsula
• Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle was built by William the Conqueror and is the oldest working castle in the world. The Queen uses Windsor Castle as her weekend home, as well as performing official duties there.
• Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace was the birthplace of Queen Victoria. It is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in London.
Sandringham House is located in Norfolk and is the private home of the Royals. The Queen’s country estate is where the Royals traditionally celebrate Christmas.
Somerleyton Hall, Somerleyton.
Highgrove is home to The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. The estate is located in the county of Gloucestershire and is well known for its gardens.
• Clarence House
Clarence House is the London residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.
It is positioned next to St James’ Palace and counts The Queen Mother, The Queen and Prince Philip as previous occupants.
High Canons, Borehamwood.
• Gatcombe Park
Gatcombe Park is the country residence of Anne, Princess Royal. It is located within Gloucestershire and is six miles from Highgrove House. Parts of the grounds open for events, including horse trials and craft fairs.