Wealth, passion, treachery, gossip, celebrity: the history of the Royal Family has all these and more! So it’s no surprise the British Monarchy has been so fascinating to filmmakers over the years. Here are ten UK locations featured in some of our favourite royal films…
The King’s Speech (2010)
Rightly dominating the 2011 Oscars, this beautifully shot and touching story of King George VI’s (Colin Firth) struggle with his stutter was filmed at a number of locations around the UK.
- Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire, England
Standing in for Westminster Abbey, Ely’s size allowed the crew to build the sets required to show the uneasy preparations for George’s coronation. In the movie you’ll spot an exact replica of the Coronation Chair, the 14th-century seat that’s been used for coronations since 1308 and that can still be seen on a tour of the abbey today. Ely itself is well worth a look – it towers impressively above the surrounding fenlands and has a rare octagonal lantern, built when the old tower collapsed in 1322.
The Madness of King George (1994)
Adapted from an Alan Bennett play, the film tells the true story of George III’s deteriorating mental health and his equally unhealthy relationship with his son the Prince of Wales. The film records the unhelpful and sometimes barbaric medical methods employed to cure him and expresses the decline in the monarchy’s power at this time.
- Wilton House, Salisbury, England
Wilton House near Salisbury is one of a whole raft of historic locations used in the film and stands in for the interior of Windsor Castle. The opening concert was filmed in the Double Cube Room, the grandest surviving room of mid 17th-century England. You can tour Wilton’s sumptuous interiors during summer.
- Old Royal Naval College, London, England
The handbell concert was filmed in the lavish painted hall in the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich in South London. Visit this baroque masterpiece designed by Christopher Wren; just one of the showstoppers at one of Britain’s most striking World Heritage Sites.
Mrs Brown (1997)
This acclaimed drama tells the true story of Queen Victoria’s (Judi Dench) close relationship with her Scottish servant John Brown (Billy Connolly) and the far-reaching influence their intimacy had on politics, monarchy and empire.
- Duns Castle
14th-century Duns Castle stood in for British Royal getaway Balmoral in the film. Set in the beautiful Scottish Borders on the edge of the little market town of Duns, it’s privately owned but is available for hire for weddings, parties and private stays.
Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: the Golden Age (2007)
These period dramas are based on the reign of Elizabeth I beginning with her accession to the throne and charting her growth into a tough, and occasionally ruthless, leader of men in a man’s world. Cate Blanchett stars as the ‘Virgin Queen’ in this vivid recreation of 16th-century England.
- Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England
No stranger to film crews, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland portrayed Bishopsgate where the Protestants are burned as well as the battle scene at ‘Leith Castle’. You’ll also recognise Alnwick from the Harry Potter films where it does service as Hogwarts.
- St John’s College, Cambridge, England
Walter Raleigh’s famous gesture of throwing his cloak to cover a puddle was filmed outside St John’s College, Cambridge and Elizabeth’s (Cate Blanchett ) barge floats down, not the Thames, but the River Cam. Your can tour this historic college or take a punt on the river to recreate this regal scene.
The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
The tale of the two Boleyn sisters and their relationship with Henry VIII used numerous historic locations around Britain to create a sumptuous sense of history and place in this story of passion, power and betrayal.
- St Bartholomew the Great, London, England
The scenes where Anne is tried and convicted of treason were filmed in London’s ancient St Bartholomew the Great which you’ll also see in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Four Weddings and a Funeral among others.
- Dover Castle, Kent, England
Dover Castle stood in for the Tower of London, the venue for the executions of Anne (Natalie Portman) and her brother George (Jim Sturgess). Spectacularly placed over the Dover cliffs, this brooding fortress has guarded Britain from invasion since before the Saxons.
The Young Victoria (2009)
Emily blunt stars as the young queen in this lavish depiction of Victoria’s accession, the early years of her reign and her burgeoning love for Prince Albert.
- Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England
This baroque beauty and birthplace of Winston Churchill appears as the palace of King Leopold of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann). Designed by John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, with carving by Grinling Gibbons and unmatched collections of art and antiques, it’s one of the most impressive stately homes in the country. Blenheim also does service as the frontage of Buckingham Palace later in the film.
Ham House plays ‘Kensington Palace’, where the young Victoria is raised by her mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson). One of a series of grand houses and palaces alongside the River Thames, Ham House is an unusually complete survival of the 17th century. It’s now looked after by the National Trust and is open to the public.