It’s a white Christmas at Buckingham Palace in the Victoria Christmas special, as Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and her family frolic in the snow and go sledding and build snowmen.
Inside, the servants are busy covering everything with Christmas trees and baubles and wreaths according to the strict instructions of Prince Albert (Tom Hughes).
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A blanket of snow transforms the ITV drama into a winter wonderland and, inside, everything is lit by a warm candlelight. But how was this festive scene created?
Where is the Victoria Christmas special filmed?
Most of the Christmas special was filmed at Harewood House, a country house in Yorkshire near Leeds. As well as using the interiors and exteriors as a stand-in for Buckingham Palace, the production company created a snowy set complete with an ice rink for those beautiful outdoor scenes.
“The ice-skating scene in particular was honestly filmed on a really lovely, beautiful August day,” says Margaret Clunie, who plays Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland. She filmed a scene where Harriet goes ice-skating and sledding with Prince Ernst, Prince Albert and his young children.
“They’d set up this snowy scene and there was like a weird tunnel approach that was all snow. Obviously we had the children with us, and they hadn’t seen it yet,” she explains. “So I think the filming of all the kids walking into it and seeing all the snow and ice and stuff, I think their reaction that they filmed was actually their first, real reaction. It was really sweet. And then they were all throwing snowballs and they thought it was the funniest thing of all time.”
She adds: “They had these snow machines that were pumping it out, so it was snowing on us while we were skating, I swear I inhaled so much of that. It tasted disgusting! But it was beautiful.
“It was up at Harewood House where we do quite a lot of interiors and exteriors of Buckingham Palace there. This frozen lake was just magicked out of nowhere by Michael Howells, the production designer, and the whole art department. It was unbelievable, it looked so beautiful.”
The ice rink was made of plastic, but not everything was faked. Adrian Schiller, who plays Penge, reveals: “The fires and trees were real, but the snow and ice were provided by a special effects company – the outdoor scenes were shot in August, which even in Yorkshire is too warn for frozen lakes and scenes from Narnia.”
Harewood House was transformed by Albert’s beloved Christmas trees, piles of presents, candied fruits, toys, baubles and hundreds of candles.
Looking back on filming the Christmas special, Jenna Coleman says: “The set really felt inhabited in those familial scenes, and you begin to feel like you are in a home, not a palace.”