$200,000 ‘The Crown’ robbery nearly sparked murder investigation after police find fake corpse in river

A fake corpse from Netflix’s hit series ‘The Crown’ nearly sparked a murder investigation, production designers have revealed.

In February of this year, during on-location filming for Season 5 (which is set to release this Wednesday, November 9), thieves stole $200,000 worth of antique props from two large trucks on the set. But they dumped a dummy corpse which they also found next to the antiques.

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Decorator Alison Harvey said Variety that the props were mostly related to Episode 6, which examines the relationship between the British Royal Family and Soviet Russia.

“It’s a shame because it was one of the finest antiques we could get our hands on because we were trying to recreate the Russian imperial family and the wealth of old Russia,” Harvey said. “So there were a lot of losses, which was very sad. We just made accommodation in the tray for what was missing and it was pretty good, but it was a sad moment.

“I think the most amusing thing was that the police were treating this as a murder investigation because one of the mannequins, the prosthetics, was floating face down in the river next to where the theft had taken place, so they immediately thought ‘We have a murder’ but in fact it was just a rubber body,” she added. “It took a bit of time to set up.”

Production designer Martin Childs agreed, explaining: “Finding the antiques was not their priority because they [thought they] had a murder to investigate.

The episode in question opens with a flashback in which the Russian royal family, the Romanovs, are executed by Bolshevik revolutionaries. The family is led from their beds into a barren hut where they are shot and bayoneted. In a later scene, the revolutionaries bury the corpses in a mass grave in the woods. The episode deals with Queen Elizabeth II’s request to Russian leader Boris Yelstin to give the family – who were linked to her husband Prince Philip – a proper burial.

Harvey said the fake corpse found in the river looked exactly like a real corpse, which is why police were initially confused. “It was worth £13,000 [$15,000]she said of the prosthetic body. “It was absolutely identical to a nude [dead] the person. It was probably quite alarming to the police actually when they fished it out.

Less fun, Childs said the flight was a real blow to the crew. “It was a really, really awful thing to happen,” he said. “But we used mirrors to help us through that, because the other thing mirrors do is double the amount of stuff you have overall.”

Harvey said some props only survived because a truck got lost on the way to the location. “[It] was not parked where the theft took place,” she explained. The rest, they had to scramble to dress up the decor. “We had pieces that we owned that we brought in, completed, but if it would have been a better set with those pieces, I don’t know.”

Police did not find any of the stolen items, she confirmed: “None were found, no.”

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