If you seen the new Stephen Frears film ‘Victoria & Abdul‘ the true story of the unlikely friendship between Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal’s Indian clerk Abdul Karim, who travelled to England in 1887 to help mark Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations
And you may be surprised as to just where it was filmed because contrary to usual practice of it all being filmed on a sound stage or against green screen those glamorous palatial gardens and houses were actually in the Isle of Wight of all places principally Osborne House. Osborne House was Queen Vicky’s summer residence (well haven’t we all got one?) and the film’s producers secured crucial permission to spend several weeks filming at the key location where much of the film’s story takes place. The production was the first big feature film to shoot in the house courtesy of English Heritage who laid down some strict conditions.
“One stipulation was that we couldn’t close the house to the public, so a detailed schedule of where we wanted to be and when was drawn up,” says Adam Richards, the film’s supervising location manager, in comments to film production bible, The Knowledge.
‘The other issue was the fragility of some of the furniture. For authenticity, we wanted to use as many of the original furnishings as possible.” English Heritage imposed a limit on how many people could use each piece of furniture. In scenes showing an audience with the Queen in Osborne House’s drawing room, most of the actors had to break with history and stay standing to avoid any damage.
Other English Heritage sites doubled up for several of the story settings including The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich which became the interiors for Windsor Castle and in North of London, Knebworth House also became Windsor Castle and Balmoral, the Queen’s Scottish residence.
The film also shot in India, “We wanted to honour a culture and a history that have too often been minimised and rejected over the past century and a half,” says Beeban Kidron, one of the film’s producers. “Filming in the city of Agra reaffirmed that we were bringing Abdul’s story out. He was from there, in every sense of the phrase.”
No one believes us when we tell them that The Nags Head pub doubled for Queen Victoria’s favourite Friday night drinking den where she got bladdered on strong lager before heading off into the West End where Stavros Kebab machine doubled for her favourite take away…….(You’re fired! – Ed)