The Hidden Meanings Behind the Pajamas in 'The Crown'

Chloe Foussianes
·2 min read
Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

From Town & Country

There is always an element of recreating history when crafting costumes for a period drama, but The Crown takes it to a whole new level. Not only are viewers familiar with how each member of the royal family dresses, but they're likely to remember specific outfits in detail—like Princess Diana's wedding dress, which was made for season four with the assistance of one of the original gown's designers. But there was one place where costumer Amy Roberts was able to really get creative: what a given character would wear to sleep.

Naturally, these intimate moments haven't been photographed, freeing Roberts of the responsibility to emulate the past. But it's also a particularly revealing costume for any character, historically-informed or not; what we choose to wear when no one else is looking says much more about us than what we wear out in the world.

"What people wear in bed, it takes me ages to think about that," Roberts tells Town & Country. "Because it's quite important, isn't it?"

This season, Roberts had the chance to craft nightwear for all three leading women in the series: Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman), Princess Diana (Emma Corrin), and Margaret Thatcher (Gillan Anderson). And each required a very different approach.

"The Queen, I guess I do imagine her being mumsy and cozy," Roberts says. That translated into matching nightdresses and robes in old-fashioned patterns—one of which was, actually, inspired by a real sighting of the Queen in her nightie. Michael Fagan, the man who broke into the monarch's Buckingham Palace bedroom (as depicted in episode five) apparently recalls seeing Her Majesty in a Liberty print nightdress. "Why he’d know it was a Liberty print…" Roberts wonders.

For Diana, it was about showing a transition from young, naïve girl to the Princess of Wales we know. When she visits Balmoral in episode two, she's still dating Prince Charles. "I wanted her to look slightly like a child, so they were little cotton ones with a tiny floral print," Roberts says. Later, she appears again "in a luscious kind of silk nightdress," and the nightwear transformation is complete.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

"The most difficult was Margaret Thatcher," Roberts explains. "What would Margaret Thatcher wear in bed? Because I always imagined her to be quite sexual, but then you couldn’t really put Margaret Thatcher in a really sexy nightie, that felt wrong." Indeed, when Thatcher's seen working in bed during her visit to Balmoral, she's in something more modest: "We took the middle ground, really. It was quite safe but pretty, and the texture of it was quite nice and silky and maybe a little bit sexy." Just a little bit.

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