As the BFI Film Fes­ti­val be­gins, we cel­e­brate royal res­i­dences that have been used for movie lo­ca­tions.

From palaces to cas­tles, these are the movie lo­ca­tions fit for a queen, says Do­minic Wells

Where London - - Contents -

‘Iknow I have the body of a weak and fee­ble woman, but I have the heart and stom­ach of a king, and a king of Eng­land, too.’ Which ac­tress would not give their ring fin­ger for the chance to de­liver this speech? El­iz­a­beth I has been played by dozens of screen greats, from Bette Davis in 1939 through to Glenda Jack­son in 1971 and Cate Blanchett in 1998 and 2007 – plus Mi­randa Richard­son’s hi­lar­i­ously child­ish Quee­nie in Black­ad­der. He­len Mir­ren hasn’t just played El­iz­a­beth I but El­iz­a­beth II, too, win­ning an Os­car for The Queen.

The Vir­gin Queen’s fa­ther, Henry VIII, is equally at­trac­tive to ac­tors: Charles Laughton, Richard Bur­ton, Robert Shaw, Ray Win­stone, Jonathan Rhys Mey­ers and Damian Lewis are just a few of those to have played the axe-happy an­ti­hero. And the royal TV se­ries just keep com­ing: The Tu­dors was racy, Wolf Hall award-win­ningly cere­bral and Liz Hur­ley’s E! se­ries The Royals flat-out bonkers. Chan­nel 4 mean­while re­cently launched its sit­com, The Wind­sors.

Be­cause some of the cas­tles and palaces are lived in by the royal fam­ily, they don’t all wel­come huge film crews, so other his­toric build­ings act as stand-ins. Here are Bri­tain’s top royal at­trac­tions, as picked by Visit Bri­tain, along with their ‘stunt dou­bles’.


The of­fice and of­fi­cial res­i­dence of the Queen is open to the pub­lic from July to Oc­to­ber. On a tour of the lavish State Rooms and gar­den, you can see the Old Masters in the Royal Col­lec­tion of art. Seen on screen: Count­less ap­pear­ances of the ex­te­rior, but the in­te­rior is dou­bled by other homes, in­clud­ing Clive­den House and En­gle­field House in Berk­shire, and Lan­caster House and Oster­ley Manor in Lon­don. In the Lon­don 2012 Olympics Open­ing Cer­e­mony, Danny Boyle filmed Daniel Craig as James Bond in Buck­ing­ham Palace with the Queen.


Tour the mag­nif­i­cent King’s and Queen’s State Apart­ments in the former home of Queen Vic­to­ria and Diana, Princess of Wales, and pay a visit to the Diana Me­mo­rial Foun­tain which is nearby in Hyde Park. The ex­hi­bi­tion Fash­ion Rules Restyled is on un­til 2017. Seen on screen: In 2009’s The Young Vic­to­ria, Ham House in Rich­mond stood in for Kens­ing­ton Palace.

“The Tu­dors was racy, Wolf Hall cere­bral and The Royals flatout bonkers”


This is the Queen’s favourite res­i­dence, and the largest and oldest oc­cu­pied cas­tle in the world. Visit the sump­tu­ous State Apart­ments, St Ge­orge’s Chapel and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. If you see the royal stan­dard flag fly­ing, which is red, yel­low and blue, it means the Queen is in res­i­dence. If you visit on a week­end then you might be in luck, as this is the Queen’s week­end home. The venue is cur­rently host­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion Fash­ion­ing a Reign :90 Years of Style from the Queen’ s Wardrobe, which dis­plays items of cloth­ing worn by Her Majesty over the years. See non screen: My Week with Mar­i­lyn did shoot briefly out­side the cas­tle, as Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe vis­ited it while she was film­ing The Prince and the Show girl. But the visit by Michelle Wil­liams and Ed­die Red­mayne to the li­brary ac­tu­ally took place in Hat­field House in Hert­ford­shire.


This is where ev­ery monarch since 1066 has been crowned, and where the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge (Prince Wil­liam and Kate Mid­dle­ton) were wed. It con­tains the graves of the coun­try’s great­est minds, too, from Isaac New­ton to Charles Dick­ens. Seen on screen: Fea­ture films have to use stand-ins, such as Lin­coln Cathe­dral in The Da Vinci Code and The Young Vic­to­ria, Ely Cathe­dral in Cam­bridgeshire in The King’s Speech and St Ni­cholas Church in Dun­sany Cas­tle in Brave­heart.


Tu­dor times are recre­ated by cos­tumed char­ac­ters in Henry VIII’s favourite res­i­dence; don’t miss the maze and the fa­mously beau­ti­ful gar­dens by ‘Ca­pa­bil­ity’ Brown. Seen on screen: In re­cent years Hampton Court has be­come one of Bri­tain’s big­gest film ‘stars’, ap­pear­ing in The Young Vic­to­ria, Jack the Gi­ant Slayer, Pi­rates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing, Sher­lock Holmes: A Game of Shad­ows and Ter­rence Mal­ick’s The New World.


This 900-year-old guarded fortress on the north side of Tower Bridge is home to the mag­nif­i­cent Crown Jew­els. Prison­ers who have been locked away here in­clude Sir Thomas More, King Henry VIII’s wife Anne Bo­leyn and Guy Fawkes. Ex­pect to queue. Seen on screen: Tom Cruise filmed Mis­sion Im­pos­si­ble: Rogue Na­tion here, though the café he eats at doesn’t ex­ist in real life. But even Cruise’s star power was up­staged by the wed­ding of Ker­mit and Miss Piggy in M up pets: Most Wanted.

Clock­wise from main im­age: Buck­ing­ham Palace; TheRoy­als TV se­ries; Hampton Court Palace

Top: Tower of Lon­don Left: TheWind­sors TV se­ries

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