In Depth

A guide to The Crown’s filming locations

From the Scottish Highlands to the plains of South Africa

The third season of The Crown is due out this Sunday, with Olivia Colman taking up the mantle from Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II.

Early reviews suggest the new series, which covers the monarch’s reign from 1964 to 1977, is another triumph for Netflix’s flagship period drama.

The Telegraph calls it “by far, the best soap opera” on TV, while the Daily Mirror gives it five stars, describing it as “a majestic return”.

One aspect of the show that has bewitched both critics and viewers alike is its use of gorgeously extravagant filming locations.

“The no-expense-spared Netflix series features some of England’s most regal locations, all providing a lavish backdrop for the story,” says VisitEngland.

Here are seven locations used in the show that you can visit in real life.

Lancaster House

If you were wondering whether the scenes inside the Queen’s main residence were actually filmed at Buckingham Palace, they weren’t.

Instead, many of them were filmed in Lancaster House, an opulent townhouse built in the 1820s on nearby Pall Mall. Today, it is owned by the Foreign Office, and while there is no regular public access, it is possible to book a tour.

Ely Cathedral 

Ground was first broken on this remarkable cathedral in the historic riverside city of Ely in the 7th century, and it was added to significantly by the Normans shortly after their invasion of Great Britain.

The church (pictured above), which often features in film and TV shows, stands in for Westminster Abbey in The Crown, and is thus the location for the scenes of Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

Greenwich Naval College

The Old Royal Naval College in the London borough of Greenwich is one of architect Christopher Wren’s finest achievements. The show’s location scouts evidently agree: the college’s grounds have been used in place of Buckingham Palace’s courtyard throughout the show.

Radio Times reports that the classical buildings of the college were “originally the Royal Hospital for Seamen, which was built in the 17th century to house retired veterans of the British Navy”. It is free to visit and open daily.

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Goldsmiths’ Hall

“Remember King George’s operation in that makeshift theatre at Buckingham Palace?” asks Suitcase Magazine. “It was shot near St Paul’s Cathedral in the Grade I-listed Goldsmiths’ Hall.”

The scene, in which the ailing royal has his lung removed, used real surgeons from Guy’s Hospital in order to ensure it was as realistic as possible.

Belvoir Castle 

Taking a trip outside of the south of England, the stunning 19th-century Belvoir Castle (pictured above) in Leicestershire was used as a stand-in for Warwick Castle in the first series.

According to VisitEngland, “several interior rooms were used, further highlighting Belvoir's royal-worthy design and build”.

Ardverikie House

North of the border, the royals’ Scottish summer residence at Balmoral was portrayed by Ardverikie House, a two-hour drive from the real thing.

This grand hunting lodge has a number of on-site cottages from which guests can enjoy castle tours and wildlife activities.

South Africa 

The dramatic and varied landscapes of South Africa obviously captured the imagination of the show’s creators as they stood in for a number of other foreign nations during its first two seasons.

In the first series it was a stand-in for Kenya, where Elizabeth hears about her father’s death, and in the following season it “covered most of the globe on Prince Philip’s world tour”, says CN Traveller.

“Cape Town covered for Melbourne, the Keurbooms River was the Amazon, Kogel Bay on the Western Cape [pictured above] was Tonga and Hermanus was Bermuda,” the travel site says.


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