43 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'The Crown'
Now on its fourth season, Netflix's The Crown has captivated viewers with its honest portrayal of arguably the most famous and powerful family in the world, the "House of Windsor." Their secretiveness has most people wondering what life must be like in Buckingham Palace.
Fortunately for us, the show is answering our queries, humanizing the royal family as much as possible. Although, fans still have a lot to learn about the show. Let us look into them today. Here are some things you probably did not know about The Crown.
Creator Peter Morgan is Not a Big Fan of the Royal Family
It would be easy to assume that The Crown's creator, Peter Morgan, would have a deep interest in the royal family. However, in reality, even Morgan doesn't understand how he ended up creating the show. He is not even that invested in the monarchy nor does he have any interest in the family.
Morgan has even expressed his disdain for writing about Queen Elizabeth in the past. Well, considering that he earned an Oscar nomination for "Best Original Screenplay" for his 2006 film, The Queen, maybe there is a reason he was chosen.
Matt Smith or Nobody at All
Casting the Duke of Edinburgh proved to be as challenging as the Queen. It was not that there were too many choices or that the showrunners could not find a suitable choice, it was because Peter Morgan just thought Claire Foy and Matt Smith were "complete electricity" during the readings.
Smith was considered to be the hardest to pin down because of compensation disputes. Still, he was the only one who could do it in Morgan's eyes. Yes, even Morgan knows how overpaid Smith was for the role.
No Majestic Meeting
Creator Peter Morgan is no stranger to other fictional versions of the queen. He has written now three versions of the queen, from Helen Mirren's portrayal to Claire Foy's and Olivia Colman's. So perhaps a meeting with the actual monarch in person would be fitting.
Well, not really, according to Morgan himself. He has previously said that he never hopes to meet her majest someday. He told Radio Times: "I’ve spent so long thinking and writing about the woman it would feel unnatural and uncomfortable. I’d just be embarrassed."
It was Only Supposed to Last Three Seasons
Peter Morgan only envisioned The Crown running for three seasons. That was what he originally pitched to Netflix when he came up with the project idea. However, in Morgan's own words, once the story for Claire Foy (Queen Elizabeth) and Matt Smith (Prince Philip) wrapped up, they were "ready to go somewhere else."
Right now, it has been confirmed that there will be a season five and season six. We are guessing public interest in the show won't be waning any time soon.
Claire Foy Did Not Stand Out During the Auditions
It is hard to imagine the first two seasons of The Crown with somebody other than Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth. However, Morgan admits that casting her almost did not happen. He says that he tried casting everyone else before Foy.
The story goes that when they were doing read-throughs for potential Elizabeths, it took Foy four times before she caught Morgan's attention. Surely, everyone is glad that she made the cut. Even Morgan, too, stating, “Brilliantly effective. Completely 'undiva-ish.'"
John Lithgow Got the Essence of Churchhill by... Stuffing Cotton Up His Nose
John Lithgow's casting as Prime Minister Winston Churchill may have been met with skepticism at first, being an American and all. But his 2017 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" silenced any doubt there was anyone better.
In the name of accuracy, Lithgow tried his hardest to get Churchill's signature "nasally sound" right for the role. How did he do it? Well, by shoving bits of cotton up his nose. That is what true dedication looks like.
Corgis of The Crown
Some say Claire Foy was the breakout star while others say it was either Matt Smith or Vanessa Kirby. Well, we say it was the queen's corgis. After all, these costars are playing the role of the queen's royal dogs. These corgis might not look like it, but hey, they faced pressure, too.
One thing that folks did not anticipate was how much the corgis loved cheddar cheese. Claire Foy even said they ate a whole block of cheddar every day! Above is a photo of The Crown corgis during the season two premiere
King Edward VIII's Pro-Nazi Sentiments were Hidden for Years
Who can blame King Edward VIII for abdicating the throne? After all, it was all in the name of love, right? Alas, if his abdication does not shock you, maybe his pro-Nazi sentiments will. This series did a good job of telling the story of the Duke of Windsor's complicated relationship with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
The show tried its best to stay as accurate as possible. Uncovered in 1946, the Marburg files had hard evidence suggesting the ties during the war. Despite British efforts trying to conceal it, the documents were still released in 1957.
Getting Princess Margaret's Style Right
Playing Princess Margaret requires a little bit of flare, especially when it comes to her wardrobe. Just ask Vanessa Kirby and costume designer Michele Clapton. The designer viewed the princess' outfits during her younger years as both daring and at times eccentric.
Clapton knew that Margaret's style was very much inspired by Paris, and that is how she chose the pieces Kirby wore for the first two seasons of the series. She only copied one look while the rest were her own interpretations.
Recreating the Queen's Wedding Dress was a Daunting Challenge
Exercising their "creative liberties" throughout the show, the costume design crew would do their best to replicate outfits for The Crown's major events. This includes Elizabeth’s wedding to Philip and her coronation day.
Designer Michele Clapton, who also happened to work for Game of Thrones, considered the Queen's wedding dress as the “most elaborate [and] time-consuming" costume they worked on. They knew how important it was to get it as accurate as possible. Safe to say, they pulled it off.
Smith was Literally Dying to Play the Part
Matt Smith admitted that he actually almost died while filming the series during a Graham Norton Show interview. How did this happen? You can blame the horses, according to Smith. There was supposed to be a love scene that never made the cut where Smith was supposed to ride a horse.
"I got on the horse and cantered around and then it just went. I tried to grab a branch and everyone was shouting, 'Oh my God, don’t grab the branch!'" he said. Fortunately, he ended up going under the branch and down the ravine.
A Bigger Set was Needed for Lithgow's Churchill
As much as John Lithgow tried his best to be Churchill, there was an undeniable difference between them that he just couldn't overcome: their height difference. Churchill stood at about 5"6 feet tall while Lithgow stands at 6"4 feet.
Because of this, the set had to be adjusted whenever Lithgow had a scene. Viewers may also observe how low Lithgow stops when he talking with Queen Elizabeth. The show even scaled up the fake door to 10 Downing Street, as well.
Besides the dazzling perfromances, The Crown also has quite the production crew behind the scenes, evidenced by the costumes, set, research, and the dedication. The only thing that has ever stopped them was when COVID-19 halted filming for two weeks.
Season three and season four were actually filmed back-to-back. This is why fans it did not take fans too long to see the end of season four. Well, what more do we expect from Peter Morgan and the rest of the team, right?
One Lavish Television Show
Lavish is a word that perfectly sums up life in Buckingham Palace. It also sums up the show, too. The production budget of the series is one of the highest ever for any television show produced. For the first two seasons, it was reported by BBC that they cost between $6.5 and $13 million to make.
This adds up to a grand total of about $130 million for those two years alone. Well, if Peter Morgan is to be believed, these numbers might just be “absolute nonsense.”
A Gender Pay Gap Existed
During The Crown's first and second season, there was no doubting who the star was, and that was Claire Foy. Still, because the show overpaid Matt Smith, issues were raised concerning the pay discrepancy between actors and actresses.
This even ignited a global debate when one of the producers acknowledged it and even apologized for the discrepancy. Jared Harris, who played King George VI, even stated, “I understand they made an apology but, you know, an apology and a check would be more welcome.”
The Queen Approves... of Season One
According to a report by the Daily Express, Queen Elizabeth had actually watched the first season of the series. Best of all, she liked it. Prince Edward and his wife would drive to Windsor during the weekend to join the queen while watching the show.
The couple had urged her to watch The Crown, and she responded positively to it. Although it was noted that some depictions of the events were a little too dramatized for her liking. Still, it is not easy to get the queen to approve of these things.
The Eyes Never Lie
Peter Morgan always knew that Olivia Colman was one of one. He maintained from the start that Colman was the only choice to play the queen in season three and season four. This was somewhat in conflict with the show's theme of authenticity.
There was one small detail that was important to get the queen's likeness: her blue eyes. Claire Foy has blue eyes while Colman does not. The latter even tried wearing contact lenses. Production even thought about using CGI. In the end, Colman got to keep her eyes.
"Don’t. Be. Ridiculous.”
As much as Queen Elizabeth liked the first season, it was reported that she did not care for season two all that much. Daily Express said that the portrayal of Prince Philip and Prince Charles's relationship annoyed the queen.
The unnamed source noted that the scene, in particular, that she was upset by was when Philip displayed no sympathy for Charles in a flight back to Scotland. Prince Philip was also asked about the series during an event, to which the prince responded, "Don’t. Be. Ridiculous.”
Nominations and Awards Keep Coming
In its first two seasons alone, The Crown racked up more than 25 major awards, as well as a wide range of nominations. Some of the wins for the show include three Emmy Awards, two British Academy Film Awards Television awards, and three Screen Actors Guild awards.
Season three was no different either, as the show got dozens of nominations from the Critics' Choice Television Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, and various award-giving bodies for film and television. That is one way to honor the crown.
In the true spirit of authenticity, Matt Smith wore a blonde wig for The Crown's first two seasons. Smith, being a natural brunette, knew that the series's costume and set design and makeup teams wanted to remain as true to the material as possible.
Makeup and hair designer Ivana Primora explained, "To achieve the likeness and the spirit of the time and the aging process, we had to resort to doing wigs. Matt Smith’s not a blond, so we tried to get as close to the real characters as we possibly could."
Claire Foy Thought the Role was a Mistake
Claire Foy gave birth to her daughter in 2015, which is also the same year The Crown started filming. Things were not easy for her, having to act for a huge Netflix show while taking care of her baby at the same time.
It got so bad that Foy started to think she was making a grave mistake. Foy explained: "I had to ring my husband and tell him to give her formula... as I sat in a Land Rover trying to get my broken breast pump to work, I felt I’d made the worst mistake of my life.”
The Rich Get Richer
Already with a sky-high production budget, the series outdid itself in the third season. The Crown got even more expensive, as the production company behind it, Left Bank, was looking to upgrade the set's Buckingham Palace.
They requested even more studio space at Elstree Studios, specifically for the new main gates and exterior of the palace. This includes the legendary balcony the royals stand at. In the Variety report, the Downing Street plans showed a new Number 10 and the road leading up to the building itself.
Olivia Colman is Paid More Than Tobias Menzies
In the aftermath of the Foy and Smith pay gap, producer Suzanne Mackie made it a point to pay whoever plays the queen more than anyone on the set. Such was the case with the hiring of Olivia Colman, who replaced Foy in season three as Queen Elizabeth.
Colman made more than her costar, Tobias Menzies, who replaced Smith as Prince Philip. Menzies was also elated that there were much more transparency and equality in the direction of the show moving forward.
Prince Charles' Investiture Scene was Filmed at the Exact Location of the Original
The focus for the third and fourth season shifted to the younger generation of royals, which meant a lot more of Prince Charles. As the heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales was always set to be introduced as such. The series portrayed it well, too.
Prince Charles's grand investiture scene was all filmed in the exact, same location where the real Prince Charles received his title more than five decades ago. They shot the scene at Caernarfon Castle in Wales.
The Perfect Diana
Back in 2019, if you had to choose anyone to play Princess Diana, Emma Corrin would have been one of the last actresses you thought of. In April of that same year, Corrin only had a small following, even on Instagram, when her role in the series was revealed.
She is practically a newbie, but Peter Morgan knew right away that she was the perfect Lady Diana. Morgan says: "She also has, in abundance, the range and complexity to portray an extraordinary woman who went from anonymous teenager to becoming the most iconic woman of her generation."
Helena Bonham Carter and Princess Margaret Met in Person
Helena Bonham Carter made the perfect Princess Margaret for the third and fourth seasons. The two even met in real life, according to the actress. However, it was not the ideal first encounter.
Carter explained that her uncle had a close relationship with the princess and that Margaret made quite the impression on her. "She was pretty scary," Carter said. At one point, she met me at Windsor Castle and she said, 'You are getting better, aren’t you?'" This was in reference to her acting chops.
Olivia Colman Wanted to Be Queen So Bad
Olivia Colman is one of our finest actresses today. At this point in her career, she could get any role she wanted. Any movie would be lucky to grab the Academy Award winner. Yet, there was something about playing the queen that enticed Colman.
She jumped at the opportunity to play Queen Elizabeth the second she knew about the role, having also loved the first two seasons of the show. Colman explained in an interview: "I was incredibly uncool about it."
No, That is Not Buckingham Palace
In case nobody has ever told you this; it is difficult to film in the actual Buckingham Palace. With all the security measures and formal procedures, it is close to impossible to shoot there. This was the same challenge The Crown had, as well.
So how did the design team cope? Well, the show recreated the palace from scratch. Its research team went on public tours of the palace to get a better feel of the interior and overall setup.
The Queen Never Opposed a Peter Townsend Marriage
The show does an oustanding job shedding some light on the queen's relationship with her sister. Although the show dramatized some events concerning Queen Elizabeth's supposed disapproval of her sister, Princess Margaret, marrying Peter Townsend.
There are even papers in the National Archives that revealed how the queen worked with then-Prime Minister Anthony Eden to draft a plan where Margaret could still keep her title and allowance despite the marriage. She still, however, had to renounce her claim to the throne.
Specific Instructions for Scoring
The Crown's theme music was written by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, and Rupert Gregson-Williams. This was what Peter Morgan always envisioned for the series. The creator gave the composers very specific instructions regarding how the music should be.
“Peter Morgan was very specific about how he wanted to feel like we had tectonic plates shifting in the world,” says Gregson-William. Morgan also wanted it to "feel regal, but without being pompous." It took a long time for the group to come up with the right music, but eventually they just did. Everyone was happy.
Lady Di's Battle with Eating Disorders
Most of the time, royals do their best to appear strong. It is part of their duty to the nation. However, vulnerability reveals something truer than strength, and that is authenticity. Peter Morgan knew how important it was to include Princess Diana's battle with an eating disorder in season four.
Diana's introduction in the season also featured her struggles during her first couple of years as a member of the royal family. For Morgan, he wanted people to know that someone as perfect as Lady Di had her own issues, too.
Exact Replica of Princess Diana's Dress
Princess Diana's story was inevitable from the start. It was almost what most fans wanted to see. She was a cultural icon for women in the '80s and '90s. Her fairytale wedding to Prince Charles definitely scored big with viewers for that same reason.
Lady Di actress Emma Corrin wore the exact replica of Diana's wedding gown for the big scene. Its original designers gave the series's costume design team all the patterns before the crew eventually made one for Corrin.
Colman Versus Foy
Hey, even Oscar winners like Olivia Colman get nervous, too. That was what she felt when she was about to replace Claire Foy, who did a brilliant job as the young queen during the first two seasons. Many fans and critics admired and enjoyed Foy's performance.
Foy won the Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" back in 2018. Colman knew this, as well. Because of the pressure, she even found herself impersonating Foy during the first week of shooting.
The King's Speech Impediment
The first season of The Crown showed us why people loved King George VI. He was a decent man who tried his best to balance the interests of the monarchy and the nation. As featured in the show, the king was diagnosed with lung cancer.
He was later operated on before passing away several months after the operation. During his reign, he had always had a strong stutter. Fortunately, actor Jared Harris was able to nearly perfect it for the role.
The Sets are Huge for a Reason
Peter Morgan has given his designers free rein when it comes to the set design. That is why his team loves him. One decision they all agreed on was to make the sets as large as can be. They wanted to give people the feeling of royals living in vast spaces in Buckingham Palace.
Executive Producer Stephen Daldry tells IndieWire, "it’s a gilded cage in lots of ways, so you want to always get this sense of a huge, unfriendly place that they are rattling around in."
Foy and Smith Did Plenty of Research
Well, what would you do if you were cast as the queen and her husband? Wouldn't you have done the same? In an interview with Town & Country, Foy claimed that there were a lot of people who helped them achieve the essence of the royal couple.
The two credit The Crown's team of researchers for getting them far in their roles. A lot of books were read, recordings were heard, and visual footage was watched just so they could act better. They did so with consideration for the cultural and political context of the '40s and '50s, too.
Royal Family Who?
When Tobias Menzies was cast for the role of the Prince of Edinburgh, he admitted that he never cared about the royal family in the first place. Frankly, he just was not interested in them, except for the prince himself.
Menzies told the Radio Times, "I wasn’t someone who read about them or involved myself with them, but I’ve been very intrigued by [Prince Philip's] life." He went on to say that he does think Prince Philip was an "interesting bloke" and that he had high regard for him.
The Terrifying Role of Playing Diana
A lot of speculation surrounded Princess Diana's portrayal. Rumors started circulating as early as season one that she would soon appear. The debate of who to play her waged on, too. Emma Corrin knew all this when she signed on to play the role of Lady Di in season four.
She describes the task of playing Diana as "terrifying." No one could blame her though. After all, those are pretty big shoes to fill. The actress eventually learned to tune the noise out and just go out there and perform.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are Fans, too.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as they say. Royal biographer Katie Nicholl once suggested that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle loved watching The Crown together. They first bonded over the series when they got engaged.
She wrote in the book, Harry: Life, Loss, and Love, "An accomplished cook, Meghan loved to make extravagant dinners for Harry, and they enjoyed staying in and eating her delicious homemade meals and watching films and TV shows like The Crown on Netflix."
Similarities Between Meghan and Diana
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry caused quite the stir when they stepped back from their royal responsibilities as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Even though the two seem to have a happy marriage, Meghan's modern attitudes and convictions are not really on-brand for the established institution that is the monarchy.
Princess Diana and Meghan are the same that way, as they both struggled to fit in with the royal family and wanted a sense of self-determination in their marriages.
Will Meghan Play Herself?
Now that we are all sure that The Crown will be running for at least two more seasons, it is safe to assume that more modern members of the royal family might make an appearance. Yes, that includes the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
Left Bank creative director Suzanne Mackie mentioned that there is still a standing invitation extended to Meghan to play herself in the series. This is just in case she wants to come out of retirement for one last run. We shall see.
Paul Bettany as the Duke of Edinburgh?
When The Crown was deciding who to cast for the older version of the Duke of Edinburgh, Paul Bettany was reported to be part of the shortlist. One could only imagine the kind of impact Bettany would have on the role and vice versa.
Alas, the timing just was not right. Bettany even admitted the potential casting, as well. He said that it was discussed but the two sides just could not agree to terms on the dates. Sadly, it just was not meant to be.
Prince William's Advice to Matt Smith
Matt Smith revealed during an interview on The Graham Norton Show that he actually met Prince William prior to the launch of The Crown. He was embarrassed to find out that someone had told the prince that Smith would be playing his grandfather.
Smith ultimately sought some advice from the Duke of Cambridge. After all, who could know Prince Philip better than his own grandson, right? According to Smith, William just shook his hand and claimed, "Legend. He's an absolute legend."
Felicity Jones Could Have Been Queen
The role of Queen Elizabeth almost went to Felicity Jones, according to the Mirror. Jones has appeared in a wide range of films, from Northanger Abbey and Cheri to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Theory of Everything. So it comes as no surprise that she was in the running.
Considering that Peter Morgan even said that he tried casting basically everyone, this one is not too far-fetched to imagine. Jones auditioned for the role but it ultimately went to Claire Foy. All's well that ends well.
Unsurprisingly, The Crown has been popular with Netflix users worldwide, especially in the United Kingdom. According to an article published by the Royal Television Society back in 2016, 9% of Netflix users in the UK watched The Crown.
These numbers beat out shows like Breaking Bad, Narcos, Orange Is the New Black, and Gilmore Girls. In the United States, on the other hand, the show averaged 1.3 million total viewers in the 18 to 49 demo for the season two premiere, according to Deadline.
Mixing the Old with the New
As you watch the show, you are going to notice the tiniest of details, from the Windsor artifacts and uniforms to the jewelry and headpieces. Costume designer Michele Clapton understands that using only vintage clothing was never going to do the trick.
That is why her team tried to mix in the vintage with the new. After all, nobody can truly replicate the level of beauty some garments need to be for royals to wear. For Queen Elizabeth's clothing, they "decided really early on to make 80, 90% of Elizabeth’s wardrobe."
Queen Elizabeth's Private Beauty
The costume design team, led by Clapton, adhered to the idea that, as much as the queen loved being a queen, she would have been perfectly comfortable with being a country wife. For Queen Elizabeth's costumes throughout the show, the team chose simple color combinations.
They explained that the queen's clothes were the last thing on her mind. That is why they tried to choose colors that were not too loud or sophisticated. The crew still made her dresses as beautiful as can be though, but not as flamboyant as her sister, Margaret's.
Prince Philip Kneeled
The Crown may at times portray Prince Philip as cold, or that he never wanted to kneel to his wife. In fact, there is actual evidence that the prince did kneel to the queen in public. There is also no proof that he ever complained about his role.
Of course, the Prince of Ediburgh is a royal himself. He has always respected the rules and the monarchy. Prince Philip understands that kneeling is a sign of respect to the monarchy, and, yes, that includes his wife.
You do not have to tell us that you binged The Crown, but you do have to tell that to its creator, Peter Morgan, who thinks that show just isn't "binge-worthy." He does not think that watching the show in a single sitting is the best way to watch the series, considering all the details.
He tells Variety, "I just watched a show recently, The Fall, where I watched seven episodes in one night. Insane. I don’t think [The Crown is] that kind of a show. There’s too much going on in one episode to process it like that."