When The Telegraph ran an article this past summer detailing how members of the Royal Family were “very nervous” about a drama series depicting the inner life of the English monarchy, it was pretty clear it would become everyone’s next binge-watch. Or at least that’s what Netflix is hoping for on November 4, when The Crown’s first 10 episodes are due to be released.
The series, which centres on the life of Queen Elizabeth II, has been reported to have cost almost $200 million. On set, the surroundings give meaning to the expression “Money is no object.” From the stacks of replica Buckingham Palace china to the recreated palace gates, the production budget is clearly more blockbuster than small screen. » Gaining access to the Lancaster House set was almost as rigorous as being vetted for an audience with the Queen herself. The actors, crew and press were put through strict security checks.
Claire Foy, the English actress who plays the young Queen, says she has a new-found appreciation for the real monarch. “The more I learn about her, the more I respect her,” she says. “There are very few people alive who have been through so much political, economic and social change. She’s seen it all. I think she’s a right cracker!”
Much like other regal performances by actors such as Helen Mirren, Foy’s version of the Queen captures her insecurity and vulnerability, as well as her contained sense of power. The 32-year-old actress was influenced by the years she spent watching the Queen perform her public role, but she says it was a challenge to understand “what happened behind closed doors.” For some insight into what Queen Elizabeth’s private world might have been like, Foy read The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen’s Childhood by her nanny, Marion Crawford.
One scene that stands out in Foy’s mind is the coronation re-enactment, as it gives viewers an intimate look at the responsibilities the Queen assumed at a young age. “Having the composure to walk through the entire abbey of dignitaries and heads of state while you are this young woman being anointed and connected to God? It takes gumption,” says Foy.
The Crown portrays Queen Elizabeth’s rise to instant fame during an era when tabloids were the equivalent of today’s TMZ. More than a year after her father’s death, the then-25-year-old princess took on a monumental responsibility. “I feel a lot of sympathy for her,” says Foy. “She lost her father when she was so young. She had to take on a huge job that she wasn’t prepared for or expecting. She couldn’t really grieve for him. Her life was cut short, in a way.”