How Claire Foy perfected the Queen’s English for ‘The Crown’

Queen Elizabeth II could not watch “The Crown,” the Netflix sequence with its second season out Friday, but when Her Majesty had been ever to queue up an episode and watch play her as a younger lady, she simply may give it the royal seal of approval.

“A detailed pal of the queen mentioned that they favored the way in which during which [Foy] is all the time asking the politicians awkward, commonsense questions,” says Robert Lacey, a historic guide on the present and creator of the brand new e book “The Crown: The Official Companion, Vol. 1” (Crown Archetype). “As a result of that’s who she is. She’s very matter-of-fact, very sensible.”

And it’s not simply the queen’s character the present will get proper.

“The Crown,” created by “The Queen’s” screenwriter Peter Morgan, employs eight fact-checkers, a dialect coach, a jewellery skilled and even an on-set etiquette guide to ensure each element is in place. Nicely, with the occasional embellishment or two.

“Perhaps there’s a couple of too many corgis,” says Lacey. “But when Shakespeare might invent witches for ‘Macbeth,’ so far as I’m involved, Peter Morgan can invent additional corgis for the queen.”

Queen Elizabeth II with one in all her beloved corgis in March 1953Bettmann Archive

The accent

Dialect coach William Conacher says that nailing the way in which the real-life Queen Elizabeth spoke as a younger lady is important for getting the character. “After we first began, we mentioned, ‘Ought to we do such a plummy [aristocratic] accent for the queen? Would that be a barrier for the viewers? Would it not make her unsympathetic?’ ” says Conacher, who additionally labored with Helen Mirren when she portrayed Elizabeth II within the play “The Viewers.”

“However I assumed fairly strongly that the moments [Elizabeth] faces [in the show] are so specific to her life, and the way in which she reacts to them are exactly due to her social background,” he says.

Conacher didn’t need Foy to do an impersonation of the monarch. As a substitute, he broke down the bodily traits and aural quirks the queen makes use of and labored with the actress on these.

For instance, he says, the queen barely opens her mouth when she speaks. So the very first thing he had Foy do was loosen up her jaw however then not enable very a lot house between her enamel: It instantly obtained the type of timbre she wanted.

Then, there are the actual vowel sounds.

“The queen doesn’t say, ‘Thanks’; the queen says, ‘Thenk you,’ with the ‘you’ very brief,” says Conacher. “I can inform you that was one of the addictive issues to say on the set . . . We might all, your complete crew, go round saying, ‘Thenk yu.’”

Conacher not solely works with Foy, he is also tasked with teaching each single actor on set, from serving to American John Lithgow channel British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s bluster in Season 1 to finessing Michael C. Corridor’s impersonation of JFK in Season 2. He says generally it’s the simplest-seeming issues that may journey up actors.

“Poor Matt Smith,” says Conacher of the actor who performs Elizabeth’s husband, Philip, who stored announcing the phrase “was” like “wuz” — as a substitute of one thing extra like whas. “He’d are available in and say, ‘I’ve been training all evening: ‘Wuz!’ And I’d say, ‘No, you’re doing it the flawed means.’ It sounds so silly as a result of it’s only one little phrase, however actually it makes such a distinction.”

Conacher additionally coached Matt Smith on his portrayal of Prince Philip.Mark Mainz/Netflix; Donald McKague/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photos

The historical past

Lacey, the present’s historic guide, says that each installment of “The Crown” is predicated on a real-life episode. A workforce of researchers undergo newspaper articles, books and archives in the hunt for attention-grabbing anecdotes or particulars to ship to author Morgan, who then shapes that materials into scripts.

“He’ll seek the advice of me on particulars, like, what did the little princesses [Elizabeth and Margaret] name their daddy [King George]?” says Lacey. (For the document, they known as him Poppa.)

Different instances, his position is extra summary.

“In Season 1, for instance, there’s a row between Philip and the queen, the place he comes working out the door of the bungalow in Australia, and the queen is screaming at him, solely to find they’re being filmed by an Australian digicam crew,” says Lacey. “Nicely, we all know that occurred, however we needed to guess, or Peter needed to guess, what went on the opposite facet of the door to impress such fury. That’s the place he’d say to me, ‘Do you suppose that is believable?’”

Then there are myriad different “Crown” consultants: There’s an etiquette skilled who sits on the set always, telling actors the correct time to say “your royal highness” versus “your highness,” versus “your majesty.”

There are historic costume specialists who guarantee that Foy’s sashes and clothes are worn the right means, and jewellery specialists who guarantee that the crown has the correct quantity of diamonds and pearls. (Although some royal-fashion blogs have identified that Foy’s pearls aren’t the knotted ones that the actual queen all the time wears.)

After which there are the props, which additionally could be fairly elaborate.

Subsequent season, says Lacey, “We’ll be approaching to Prince Philip’s constructing of his barbecue wagon, and we’ve obtained to get all the small print from that. It’s so massive it needs to be taken out by Land Rover and it’s stuffed with little padded drawers with whiskey and brandy and issues like that, in addition to all of the substances. That will likely be a problem for the long run.”

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