‘The Crown’ Auction Could Help You Live Like a Queen

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Despite all the scandals and tragedies, the royal lifestyle in “The Crown” seemed enviably lavish.

For six seasons, Queen Elizabeth II traveled around London in a golden carriage, pulled by six horses. Princess Diana galloped and moped across Europe in a succession of designer outfits. For special occasions, members of the royal family wore crowns and ermine robes.

For most viewers, watching the show, which ended in December, was the closest thing they had to experiencing the pitfalls of royal life.

Until now. Kind of.

On February 7, the Bonhams auction house is expected to offer hundreds of articles of “The Crown” in London, including complex sets such as a life-size replica of the golden state coach (with an estimated price tag of up to 50,000 pounds, or $63,000), as well as more affordable props that gave “The Crown” an air of authenticity. These include two porcelain corgis which appeared on the queen’s desk ($380) and the Queen Mother drinks tray and champagne stick ($101).

Some items seem like good deals, relatively speaking. One of Princess Diana’s real dresses sold last year for more than a million dollars, and her “revenge dress” – the black evening dress she wore the night Prince Charles admitted it, on national television, to deceive her – once recovered $74,000. The version of the revenge dress that Elizabeth Debicki wears in “The Crown” has an estimated lot price of $10,000 to $15,000 in the Bonhams sale.

In interviews, three members of the show’s costume and set departments discussed some of the auction’s key lots. Below are edited excerpts from the conversations.


MICHELE CLAPTON, costume designer season 1: The Queen’s coronation was one of the big moments of Season 1, and it was very important to get it right. I spent a lot of time researching the outfits and then trying to find modern fabrics that were closest to the originals, so they would move and behave the same way.

The ceremonial dress, worn by Claire Foy, is red velvet and ermine, and we obviously couldn’t use ermine now, so we had to find faux fur. I remember doing a lot of testing with cameras to detect bits of fur, because sometimes what looked okay to the naked eye looked horrible on camera.

We embroider by hand as much as we can. Sometimes, if we were short on time, we would do machine embroidery or paint the fabric. For the dress, we painted some of the gold because, on television, you wouldn’t see it. It was a really, really difficult outfit.


CLAPTON: For such well-documented scenes like the coronation, we reproduced the outfits as closely as possible. But then we had the artistic freedom to create looks in the style of what the Queen was wearing at the time. This ball gown This is the first drawing I made for Claire. I remember drawing it, trying to find a way in.

We wanted to show how much of a movie star Elizabeth was – that beauty and youth – and the pretty blue went so well with Claire’s eyes. Elizabeth would have worn things like that, but when she became queen, she immediately became more serious, and it showed in her clothes. Being frivolous and allowing yourself to be free: all of that was suddenly abandoned.


AMY ROBERTS, costume designer for seasons 3 to 6: For some outfits, we had to get permission from the original designer. Sometimes people said “Yes” and sometimes “No”. With the “revenge dress“, I think the legal department couldn’t track down Christina Stambolian, the very smart Greek designer who made it, so our approach was to create our own version and give the audience what they expected to see: this wonderfully sexy dress.

The dress Elizabeth Debicki wore spoke volumes about Diana’s strength, and that’s what we were aiming for.

There were other times when we had to speak with the legal department. With Tthe dress that Kate Middleton wore to the university fashion showthe original designer didn’t want this copied, and I remember sending photos of the fittings to the lawyers for approval: “Yes, that’s quite different” or “No, you need to change it a bit more “.


ROBERTS: With the military uniforms, it was all about total precision. This one was for Trooping the Color, a ceremony that marks the monarch’s official birthday. The medals, the ribbons: all these details had to be forensically accurate, otherwise it would be embarrassing and unpleasant for the people serving. We had a whole military department, headed by Max Birkett, and I would come in and say, “Yes, great color, it’s perfect!” » So it all depended on them.

All the queens were amazing to design. There were very few arguments. I always say my biggest arguments were with Dominic West, who played Prince Charles. We argued every morning about what tie and pocket square combinations we were going to have. He’d say, “Oh, that’s boring,” and I’d have to say, “No, that’s wonderful!”


ALISON HARVEY, set decorator: The Queen (Imelda Staunton) inspecting a model of his own funeral procession It was the idea of ​​Stephen Daldry, the director of the last episode, so I bought every toy soldier I could find on auction sites and eBay until my entire office was in is covered. Then Stephen said, “No, I want an exact copy of the Queen’s funeral” and many regiments were not available, so we had to create many figures ourselves, scanning real people in costumes, and then by miniaturizing outfits. , 3D print our own models and paint them by hand. We even had to bring in our replica crown jewels so we could make a little crown to place on the little coffin along with a little flag.

It was about three months of work, in different stages.


HARVEY: We talked about using CGI for golden coach, but then everyone decided they wanted to see it in real life, so there was about three months of discussion about how we were going to do it. We went to the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace, to see the real thing and took a photo of it, like any other tourist, then tried to make ours as authentic as possible. The Devil’s Riders, the company that supplied our horses, had a chassis, and our modelers adapted it, sculpting these amazing rococo-style palm leaves out of clay, then casting and gilding them, and making all the rest of the decoration.

It was a mountain of work. I think it cost us £85,000 and had about 25 people working on it, using all these traditional skills. We even had to think about the engineering: how to make this thing move. It was really shaky!


HARVEY: With each set, we looked at photographs, videos, leafed through books, the Royal Collection website – anything that might contain a nugget of information about what the royals were like to provide levels of credibility.

Obviously I don’t know what queen’s bed it was like, but we know that King George IV, who was king from 1820 to 1830, collected a lot of French furnitureso this antique, in the style of a Louis XVI era bed, is a best guess.

We always try to buy real antiques first, rather than making something from scratch. I spent a lot of time at auction houses or buying items at country house sales, trying to find the authentic item.


HARVEY: If you look at the royal collection online you will see a lot of Georgian furniture, and these chairs are in the style of a classic armchair of this era. In the show, the Queen uses them when she hosts prime ministers in weekly meetings. We had an amazing wood carver make them from scratch, then we found a small sample of this gold fabric and damask that we loved and sent it to a company in Italy, who dyed the fabric custom matched and woven the material in an 18th century style. mill. This seems like a lot of effort, but we were lucky to have a long break-in time.

I don’t know who will buy these, but it’s a nice set with excellent provenance if you have a large enough living room. Every famous actor’s butt has landed on it.

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