Hundreds of cast and crew set up camp in St Andrews last week to film season six of The Crown. Following the lives of members of the royal family from the late 1990s to early 2000s, season six of The Crown is expected to include Prince William’s university years.
Prince William arrived at St Andrews in 2001, where he studied History of Art, eventually taking an interest in Kate Middleton, after he spotted her on the catwalk, whilst modelling for DONT WALK in a sheer dress.
Despite the same fashion show taking place over the weekend, The Crown was not filmed at Bowhouse amongst attendees of DW 2023. The catwalk scene was filmed just before Christmas at a nightclub in London, standing in for St Andrews.
The two stars of the netflix show are Ed McVey, who will play Prince William, and Meg Bellamy, who will take on the role of Kate Middleton. They were spotted at various locations throughout St Andrews, including The Scores, the Pier, the coastal path, and Sallie’s Quad. Dominic West, who portrays King Charles, was also spotted across the town and buying groceries in Tesco.
Many locations were transformed for the filming, including Northpoint café which was turned into a pizzeria and a new sign was installed at the cinema for a scene featuring Prince William and a previous girlfriend. Photos also reveal Kate holding hands with a former university boyfriend, allegedly Rupert Finch, a History student. Prince William looks on at his rival, played by actor and model, Oli Green.
Hundreds of extras lined the sides of North Street for a scene which appeared to recreate William’s arrival to university, where he was greeted by a crowd of fans clutching United Kingdom and Scottish flags, and presenting flowers to the Prince.
Filming similarly took place at Molly Malones on Tuesday 14 March, where Prince William is shown leaving the pub with a series of books and folders tucked under his arm. On the same day, Tesco was closed from 9am to 1pm in order for filming to take place.
Hope Street took centre stage for much of the filming on Monday and Tuesday. Prince William lived in 13A with Kate Middleton during his university career, however, it was flat 9B which was selected for scenes that will be included in The Crown.
William Purvis, who lives close to the filming location said, on the whole, interactions with the cast and crew were positive, with instructions about potential disruption being communicated clearly and effectively.
He told The Saint that a production crew arrived a couple of weeks prior to filming and they were initially visited by a location assistant who notified them of potential disruption.
“Initially, my flatmate and I were excited as there was a real buzz of activity”, Mr Purvis informed The Saint.
Hope Street resident, Maxwell Stroemer, however, told The Saint that there has been a “total absence of community engagement”. The first time that he heard about filming was during a walk down to the pier in which he spotted the high tech production.
Mr Stroemer said, “This is where I’ve got beef with Netflix. I didn't know the scale of what was going to happen. The fact that they would not only be taking our parking spots but moving our bins and putting up heavy-handed security guards to tell us when and where to go.”
Whilst Mr Stroemer says that Hope Street could be replicated in a studio or elsewhere – it “looks pretty similar to Edinburgh” – he says that filming on location is “very exciting” and will be “fun to see on a worthy show like The Crown”.
Whilst Mr Purvis described helpful advance communication, he also spoke of one incident in which he felt disappointed. On Monday 12 March, the first day of filming, one of the security officers who worked for a Scottish firm which was subcontracted by the production crew “blocked [him] from entering [his] own flat”. He told The Saint “When asked how long I would have to wait to get into my own flat he simply replied “How long is a piece of string?”.
This frustration was echoed by fellow Hope Street resident Toby, who jokingly told The Saint, “At first they told me I couldn’t leave my flat, later I was barred from re-entering, make your mind up Netflix”.
However, in relation to the specific incident involving the security guard, Mr Purvis continued “When I contacted the production crew themselves about this, they immediately told me this was ridiculous and any Hope Street resident would be allowed to get into their own homes — so long as the cameras weren’t rolling (with each scene lasting only a few minutes).”
Mr Purvis concluded “Apart from this unfortunate event, all other communication was clear and friendly”
He further stated, “All interactions with the crew themselves were amicable and productive. I put the poor interaction I had with the security guard down to one bad apple and overall I think that the film crew have tried their hardest to be as least disruptive as possible as well as communicate any disruptions to residents far in advance”
Mr Purvis also volunteered as an extra for The Crown and briefly interacted with Ed McVey, who will star as Prince William. “He’s a fantastic bloke who is very down to earth and funny, something which took me by surprise given the scale of the production”, Mr Purvis said of Mr McVey.
Overall, there seems to be an air of excitement amongst students as their surroundings are transformed into a film set. A set of first-years observing filming taking place outside Sallies told The Saint, “We really don’t mind any minor disruption, it’s just so exciting to see everything being filmed”
It is rumoured that security was kept tight in order to prevent the leaking of plot details, with many of those involved being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Perhaps unsuprisingly, producers of the show remain fixed on the decision not to include the most recent events such as the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and subsequent “Megxit”.
Instead of bringing the filming closer to the present, the series will wrap up in the "mid-noughties". The release date for season six of The Crown is yet to be announced.
If there was one thing Mr Stroemer would say to Netflix about the entire way the operation has been conducted, it would be, “Do your community engagement.”
To The Saint, he says, “Keep up the good work of the Fourth Estate”.
Cover photo:Violeta Vigo
Photo of Ed Mcvey exiting car: Vileta Vigo
Photo of cheering crowd: Devon Davila
Photo outside Old Union Cafe: Violeta Vigo
Illustration: Lauren McAndrew
Photo of Molly Malones: Ash Johann Curry-Machado