In the film, when Elizabeth arrives at St. Paul's Cathedral, construction is going on. In real life, St. Paul's actually needed repair work. Director Shekhar Kapur decided to improvise, and gave the workers costumes and period tools to cut real stone that was being installed in the cathedral. The workers in the scene are real-life stonemasons and construction workers.
To save money, only one ship replica was built. It was Raleigh's English vessel on one side and a Spanish galleon on the other. When filming wide shots of the deck, smoke was used to cover up any separation in design.
Director Shekhar Kapur felt that color should reveal a character's internal life. Costume designer Alexandra Byrne did not want to use blue on Elizabeth because it was not a period color. Shekhar felt that blue was the color of yearning and aspiring, and he wanted to portray Elizabeth as yearning to be divine and immortal. Likewise, he conveyed Elizabeth's close relationship with Bess by showing them in similar colors and gown styles. As their relationship deteriorates, their colors contrast or clash.
Although not depicted, Robert Dudley was overall commander of the British forces during the Armada invasion.
Mary, Queen of Scots was not originally part of the Babington conspiracy. Sir Francis Walsingham, who wanted an excuse to have her convicted of a capital crime, got one of the conspirators to act as a double agent and entrap her.
With her Oscar nomination for Best Actress, Cate Blanchett became the first female to receive Academy Award nominations for playing the same character.
The scene where Bess learns to dance the Volta required Abbie Cornish to be lifted in the air every six beats. Numerous retakes left Cornish sore, with trouble walking, the next day.
Director Shekhar Kapur filmed Elizabeth's personal time (ex. bathing) in circular sets to reflect the infinite questioning of her mind, aspiring to a different kind of freedom and exploration. He filmed Elizabeth's professional moments (ex. throne room) in rectangular rooms that enclosed her with straight walls and corners.
The scene of Raleigh leaving English shores to go into battle was originally filmed as his arrival to England from the New World. It was much earlier in the film, with completely different dialog.
Eddie Redmayne has played different roles in competing Elizabeth movies. In Elizabeth I (2005), he played Southampton. He also played William Stafford, who married Elizabeth I's maternal aunt Mary Boleyn, in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008).
El Escorial, the Spanish King's palace, is really London's Westminster Cathedral. Since it's a functioning church, the production team had to wait until the last evening confession was done, strip the interior of everything recognizably modern, shoot every scene during the night, then put everything back in place by morning mass.
When Elizabeth is shown her suitors, Christopher Hatton stands next to a table with a model of William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on it.
Clive Owen jumped at the chance of appearing in the film as he was a huge fan of the first movie.
Cate Blanchett was the presenter who awarded Eddie Redmayne the 2015 Oscar for Best Actor, for his portrayal of Dr. Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (2015).
Cate Blanchett had traveled to India in the early 2000s and had been enamored with everything about the country. It was she who persuaded director Shekhar Kapur to hire A.R. Rahman for the soundtrack.
Elizabeth's jewelery was made by Erickson Beamon of Belgravia. Her plumed hats were designed by Stephen Jones, Christian Dior's milliner.
When Elizabeth is conferring with her advisors about the impending arrival of the Spanish Armada, in a large room with a map on the floor, the Burghley Nef, a partly-gilt salt cellar resembling a late medieval ship sitting atop the back of mermaid who rests on a hexagonal base of rippling waves with six ball-and-claw feet, is visible. The Burghley Nef was made in Paris in 1527-28 and rediscovered in Burghley House, home of Lord William Cecil, in 1956.
Mary Stuart, played by Samantha Morton, was the daughter of Mary of Guise, who was played in Elizabeth (1998) by Fanny Ardant.
Angharad Rees designed some of the jewelry worn by Queen Elizabeth and her ladies in waiting. Pieces from Rees' Qing Dynasty Collection appear throughout the film.
The color palette for this film is much brighter than the first movie. That's because Elizabeth is a lot surer of herself, whereas in the previous film she was racked by self-doubts.