Tuesday 27th June. 8.00 AM – ‘A’ Stage, Shepperton Studios. Our first day on what is simply the most beautiful set in the movie – the Queen’s private chambers.
This is Elizabeth’s inner sanctum, a personal area away from the troubles and responsibilities of court where we see the Queen at her most private and intimate. This is not a copy of the bedchamber at any one Tudor palace but an imagined space. The set is centred on an atrium which leads off to various alcoves which represent the different aspects of Elizabeth’s private life. In one is a library and music area strewn with books, charts and instruments, next to it the wardrobe, lined with the costumes that she wears in the movie. Another, panelled in linen-fold and painted in a scheme taken from a Henry VIII tester bed, holds her make-up, jewellery and apothecaries impedimenta whilst beyond is the Royal bed. On the tables and boxes, along the mantle over the vast stone fireplace, stand the objects the queen has chosen to have close to her – a portrait of her father, exotic gifts from foreign potentates, a prie dieu for personal prayer. Other exits from the atrium lead away to the rest of the palace, hung with huge tapestries and picking up the architectural motifs of the cathedrals we’ve shot in to take us seamlessly between location and studio scenes.
It is an enormously complex set, created in the round, which can be shot from any side, revealing layered vistas and seemingly endless entrances and exits. This is a golden wonderland, impossible to ever fully explore, epitomised by the full length mirror here, made from hundreds of tiny fragments, each hand-set at a slightly different angle, which takes the structure of the room and breaks it into a thousand pieces.
In this place Raleigh now tells Elizabeth of other wonders, of the strange lands beyond the edge of her maps and of the silent immensity of the ocean.