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The Queen’s 1947 wedding brought back to life in £100m Netflix drama

As 9th September draws ever closer, when Her Majesty will overtake Queen Victoria as the country’s longest-reigning monarch, there’s no end to the amount of retrospective coverage; looking back over her 63-year reign and its highs and lows.

Now, US-based streaming service Netflix are set to take advantage of the royal fanfare in a £100m drama, The Crown – tracing The Queen’s reign from her wedding to The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 through to the present day.

The 60-episode series, which is expected to air next year, will star Claire Foy as the 21-year old Princess Elizabeth and former Doctor Who star Matt Smith will play the young Duke of Edinburgh. Foy has already experienced royal portrayal earlier this year, starring as a young Anne Boleyn in the BBC’s historical drama, Wolf Hall.

Groups of extras, dressed in authentic 1940s attire, lined the streets outside Ely Cathedral on Wednesday as filming began of the original royal wedding. The cathedral, built over 700 years ago, is acting as an ‘alternative Westminster Abbey’ backdrop for the spectacular royal event and the set was a true mashup of modern and vintage as modern green screens and vintage 1940’s cameras mixed.

Royal Stand-in: Ely Cathedral is being used as an alternative Westminster Abbey backdrop for the filming of the wedding scenes Image Credit: Steve Cadman

Standing In: Ely Cathedral is being used as an alternative Westminster Abbey backdrop for the filming of the royal wedding scenes. Image Credit: Steve Cadman

Efforts had been made to make the scene look as authentic as possible, with keen attention paid to the Norman Hartnell wedding dress which the-then Princess Elizabeth wore on the day. Made of soft white satin, with a high neckline, the Princess had to purchase the material using ration coupons which were still in force after World War II.

Waiting for Foy to emerge from a replica Irish State Coach in the reenactment were the eight bridesmaids, all wearing long white gloves and miniature satin wreaths in their hair.

Back in 1947, The Queen’s sister, HRH Princess Margaret and her first cousin HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent were chosen to be bridesmaids along with Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, her second cousin Lady Mary Cambridge, Prince Philip’s cousin The Hon. Pamela Mountbatten, The Hon. Margaret Elphinstone and The Hon. Diana Bowes-Lyon. The two Pageboys, who were Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent at the original wedding, were dressed in Royal Stewart tartan kilts.

Foy, stepping down from the carriage and wearing the long white dress, had her hair carefully curled to resemble The Queen’s signature style, and she carried a huge bouquet of white flowers, just like Her Majesty did on her wedding day.

The ceremony was presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury and broadcast by BBC radio to more than 200 million people globally. It would be another six years, at her Coronation as Queen, before television cameras were allowed into the Abbey.

Netflix’s two most high-profile shows, House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, failed to secure any wins at the Emmy Awards last year and, after the success of Downton Abbey in the US, the service will, no doubt, be hoping the new series can boost its chances in the awards circuit next year.

It certainly has the credentials for potential award glory too. The show is written by Peter Morgan, whose 2006 film The Queen won the BAFTA for Best Film and saw Dame Helen Mirren, who played the British monarch, win both the BAFTA and the Oscar for Best Actress. The drama is also inspired by The Audience, the West End and Broadway play featuring Mirren, which sees The Queen’s private conversation with successive Prime Ministers.

According to Netflix, the show “tells the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world – Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street – and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.” The series is expected to focus on the Queen’s coronation and relationships. 

It’s expected that The Crown’s story will pander to the huge international interest in the British royal family, which has increased since the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the birth of their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Featured Image: PA