Though it’s hard to pinpoint a specific number on just how much money it costs to shoot The Crown, Netflix’s lavish series that traces the history of Queen Elizabeth II and England’s Royal Family, it’s been widely cited as the most expensive television series in the history of the medium. While some figures state that the first season alone cost a whopping $130 million to shoot, series creator Peter Morgan thinks that’s a more accurate tally of the cost for the first two seasons, according to the BBC.
Whatever the case, it’s a lot of scratch, because recreating royal history doesn’t happen on the cheap. (It cost $35,000 for the show’s costume department to create a replica of the Queen’s wedding dress for just the first episode.) But how does the show’s reported $6.5 to $13 million per episode price tag stack up to the cost of being the Queen in real life?
Like The Crown, there is some debate as to just how much it costs to keep the royal family rolling from year to year. While the Queen receives a salary, a.k.a. a Sovereign Grant, from the Treasury in order to pay for her many monarch necessities, including the salaries of her household staff, travel expenses, and the upkeep of Buckingham Palace and other royal properties, that’s really only just scratching the surface of her expenses.
In June, it was decided that the Queen would receive an 8 percent increase in her Sovereign Grant, which will work out to be about $110,520,000 for 2018. While that may sound like a lot of money (because it is), that figure doesn’t cover several essential expenditures for the monarchy, including royal visits, ceremonies, and security. In 2015, The Telegraph ran the numbers and estimated that it costs about $400 million (or £300 million) per year to keep the monarchy running smoothly.
Depending on which figure you believe about The Crown: $130 million for one season or two, we can estimate that if the series runs for a total of six seasons—as Morgan hopes it will—and production costs remain about the same, the total cost to produce the entire series will run somewhere between $390 million and $780 million. Which is chump change to the $1.8 billion the Royal family will fork over during that same six-year timeframe.