Olivia Colman says ‘The Crown’ is ‘toned down’ compared to real Buckingham Palace

Olivia Colman
Olivia Colman plays Queen Elizabeth II in the third season of Netflix’s “The Crown.”
(Des Willie / Netflix)

“The Crown” stars Olivia Colman and Gillian Anderson are spilling the tea on their experiences meeting the real royal family.

On Wednesday’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” the actresses described their respective visits to Buckingham Palace while promoting the fourth season of Netflix’s hit period drama, which features Anderson as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Colman as Queen Elizabeth II.

“I was very nervous,” Colman said of her meeting with Princess Anne. “What was hilarious is that it turns out everything we’ve done in ‘The Crown’ was toned down compared to as it is in the actual palace. To be fair, I wasn’t there on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, an average day. ... It was pomp and ceremony.”


Despite being familiar with the royals’ posh wardrobe, thanks to the many copycat costumes on “The Crown,” Colman recalled her awe at the dazzling display of “endless people with gold frills on their shoulders and all sorts of different outfits and different uniforms.”

“The staff were so sweet,” she continued. “If you would look nervous, they’d go, ‘Don’t worry, it’s all OK. Do you want a cup of tea?’ ... They helped you along the way. But it was an extraordinary experience. ... I’m very lucky, and it doesn’t happen to many people, and I felt very fortunate. And it was also hilarious.”

Anderson, who has been invited to Buckingham “a few times,” dished on meeting the queen — as well as her “queen whisperer,” tasked with briefing the 94-year-old monarch on her distinguished guests.

“Very often, there’s somebody who walks with her and whispers in her ear to tell her who it is that she’s about to meet,” Anderson said. “You meet a lot of people, and she’s not going to remember who everybody is. ... And you’re not meant to speak before you’re spoken to so it can be a little bit awkward. And she may ask you questions about yourself or how you’re enjoying the thing that she’s just been told that you do.”

A new trailer for Netflix’s “The Crown” sets an ominous tone for Season 4 as it chronicles Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s romance and royal wedding.

Oct. 13, 2020

The latest season of Netflix’s historical series will see Anderson’s Thatcher make her “Crown” debut alongside Emma Corrin’s Princess Diana. They join returning cast members Colman, Tobias Menzies (Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), Erin Doherty (Princess Anne), Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) and Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret).


Season 4 of the time-hopping drama marks Colman’s final outing as the queen, who will be portrayed by Imelda Staunton in the next installment. Also included in the show’s succession plan are Jonathan Pryce (Philip), Dominic West (Charles), Lesley Manville (Margaret) and Elizabeth Debicki (Diana).

New episodes of “The Crown” will be available Sunday on Netflix.