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The Crown’s production designer posed as tourist on a public tour to research Buckingham Palace

The production designer for The Crown has revealed he posed as a tourist on a visit of Buckingham Palace to research its layout and interior to recreate it for the hit Netflix series.

Having been denied access by The Firm, Martin Childs, 66, went undercover as a punter on a public tour and used the knowledge he gleaned to recreate the royal residence at 15 different filming locations.

These included four sets at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, plus 11 stately homes and historic buildings, ranging from Wilton House in Wiltshire and London’s Lancaster House, where interior scenes where shot, to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich which posed as its exterior. 

‘All I could think about was how we could turn these rooms into spaces where action could happen, where people could have conversations, where we could maintain an interest,’ he told the Royal Television Society this week.

The production designer for The Crown has revealed he posed as a tourist on a visit of Buckingham Palace to research its layout and interior to recreate it for the hit Netflix series (pictured: the balcony scene from series four. The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich was used at the Palace exterior)

Martin Childs, 66, went undercover as a punter on a public tour and used the knowledge he gleaned to recreate the royal residence at 15 different filming locations

Martin Childs, 66, went undercover as a punter on a public tour and used the knowledge he gleaned to recreate the royal residence at 15 different filming locations 

‘Whenever I was in a room I was looking through doorways into the next room, to see what interesting frames it would make on the screen.’ 

A tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, including the Throne Room and White Drawing Room, costs £26.50 and is open to anyone – however it’s currently closed due to the pandemic. 

While Queen and her family’s private chambers are not open to the public, Childs told how he used information from alternative sources to put together a floorplan.

‘The one thing I knew was that the upstairs apartments were built in an enfilade, which meant four rooms in a row connected by doors rather than by a corridor,’ he explained.

While Queen and her family's private chambers are not open to the public, Childs told how he used information from alternative sources to put together a floorplan

While Queen and her family’s private chambers are not open to the public, Childs told how he used information from alternative sources to put together a floorplan

Wilton House in Wiltshire and London's Lancaster House were used to film interior scenes set in Buckingham Palace. Pictured: Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in series four

Wilton House in Wiltshire and London’s Lancaster House were used to film interior scenes set in Buckingham Palace. Pictured: Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in series four

‘As soon as I knew that about the private apartments, the Queen’s bedroom and dressing room, and Philip’s bedroom, then I had an architectural metaphor for an extraordinary marriage. It meant they could close doors on one another, there’d be distance between them, there would be closeness when they wanted it.’

He admitted he was disappointed to discover during his tour that many of the rooms within the Queen’s London residence look very similar.

As a result, looking around other buildings to use as its stand-in became liberating.  

Filming for series five of The Crown is set to commence this summer, with Imelda Staunton taking over from Olivia Colman as the Queen. Speaking about the scripts, Childs gave little away other than to say they are ‘really good’ and ‘juicy’. 

Childs – who won an Oscar for his work on Shakespeare in Love in 1999 – previously gave fans a behind-the-scenes virtual tour of the set.

Childs admitted he was disappointed to discover during his tour that many of the rooms within Buckingham Palace look very similar. Pictured: Olivia Colman as The Queen in series three

Childs admitted he was disappointed to discover during his tour that many of the rooms within Buckingham Palace look very similar. Pictured: Olivia Colman as The Queen in series three

In an 11-minute webisode of Architectural Digest’s Notes on a Set in 2018, he marked up images from sets like Lancaster House, which doubled as Buckingham Palace.

‘It’s a government building and it’s therefore less perfect for staging long dialogue scenes in,’ Childs explained.

‘But it’s the best location we have for representing what [creator] Peter Morgan called ‘the sheer mileage of the place.’ And that’s the sheer mileage of Buckingham Palace. It’s largely empty. It belongs to the goverment. [BPM] Theresa May has conferences in there. We get to use it on occasional weekends.’

Martin frequently cursed the ‘security net curtains’ lining all of the windows of Lancaster House. 

In an 11-minute webisode of Architectural Digest's Notes on a Set in 2018, Childs marked up images from sets like Lancaster House, which doubled as Buckingham Palace

In an 11-minute webisode of Architectural Digest’s Notes on a Set in 2018, Childs marked up images from sets like Lancaster House, which doubled as Buckingham Palace

Childs explained: 'It's the best location we have for representing what [creator] Peter Morgan called "the sheer mileage of the place"'

Childs explained: ‘It’s the best location we have for representing what [creator] Peter Morgan called ‘the sheer mileage of the place”

'We're not allowed to remove them': Martin frequently cursed the 'security net curtains' lining all of the windows of Lancaster House

‘We’re not allowed to remove them’: Martin frequently cursed the ‘security net curtains’ lining all of the windows of Lancaster House

Beds are opposite each other: The restricted royal private apartments was the only setting Childs had to come up with using only floor plans and his imagination

Beds are opposite each other: The restricted royal private apartments was the only setting Childs had to come up with using only floor plans and his imagination

‘We would love to have removed to get the view beyond, but part of the security and they will withstand any bombing that might happen to that building so any explosion and broken glass will be caught by those net curtains that we’re not allowed to remove,’ he shrugged.

The restricted royal private apartments was the only setting Childs had to come up with using only floor plans and his imagination, and he placed the royal couple’s beds opposite each other. 

For the scene in episode four where Princess Margaret meets society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, Martin ‘did forensic’ research on the real location emphasising her isolation.

The costume department even dressed Matthew Goode to better resemble David Hemmings’ London lensman character in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 flick Blow-Up, which served as inspiration.  

Emphasising her isolation: For the scene where Princess Margaret meets society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, Martin 'did forensic' research on the real location

Emphasising her isolation: For the scene where Princess Margaret meets society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, Martin ‘did forensic’ research on the real location

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