A long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away, a queen fought bravely against the power of the Federation of Merchants, and did so between the upper vestibule and the Staircase of Honour of the Royal Palace of Caserta.
The Royal Palace of Caserta, commissioned by King Charles of Bourbon, one of the most important royal residences in the world. The largest in volume, far exceeding the other famous royal residences, such as the Palace of Versailles or Buckingham Palace.
Lucas may have thought: if Star Wars were history, in the gallery of the rulers who reigned there, would not disfigure the picture of Queen Padmé Amidala, sovereign of the planet Naboo.
The Royal Palace of Naboo
Anyone who has seen Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars Episode II – The Attack of the Clones will recognize in the Staircase of Honour and the upper vestibule of the Royal Palace of Caserta, the Throne Room of Queen Amidala.
In 1997, George Lucas, the saga’s dad, began filming Star Wars Episode I, known only as The Beginning.
Lucas studied closely the characters and places that would enrich the science-fiction space opera with many “terrestrial” influences. In all the Star Wars movies we can admire breath-taking locations shot all over the world, from the Norwegian glaciers of the icy planet Hoth admired in The Empire Strikes Back, to the Irish island of Skellig Michael, a stunning wild hermitage for the master Luke Skywalker in the eighth chapter of the saga, The Last Jedi.
Among these locations the Royal Palace of Caserta has carved out its own space as a splendid backdrop to the Royal Palace of Theed City, the most important city of the pacific planet of Naboo, from which begins the story of Episode I.
Lucas chose the Royal Palace for its “Renaissance” interiors that he had imagined for the Palace of Queen Amidala. The exteriors of the science-fiction palace were made in computer graphics, while the majestic spaces of the three views of the Royal Palace, were selected as the perfect set to walk Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala.
For Star Wars Episode I the Royal Palace of Caserta lent the Staircase of Honor, the upper vestibule and the entrance gallery, which became the precious interiors of the Royal Palace of Theed City.
The droid invasion in the upper vestibule
During the first tense phases of the invasion of the Federation of Merchants’ droid army, the shots take us inside the throne room of Queen Amidala, room obtained in the upper vestibule of the Royal Palace.
The vestibule has a circular plan interspersed with marble columns, where you can see on one side a large glass window. From the window we can observe Queen Amidala assist unarmed to the invasion by the Federation of Merchants’ droids in her own city. The Throne Room also reappears in the final stages of the film, when Queen Amidala and a handful of men manage to capture the Viceroy and bring peace to Naboo.
The Queen descends the Staircase of Honour as a prisoner
The Staircase of Honour is adjacent to the upper vestibule, and it is from this staircase that Queen Amidala and her court are brought down as prisoners.
The Staircase consists of a main staircase that leads to two upper ramps, adorned with two marble lions that in Star Wars Episode I do not appear, deleted thanks to a video editing work.
The meeting in the entrance gallery
In the entrance gallery on the ground floor we witness a strategic meeting between the Federation of Merchants’ leaders: the hologram of Darth Sidious asks his sith apprentice Darth Maul, not to act before the next move of Queen Amidala.
The Return to the Royal Palace of Caserta
George Lucas returned to Italy three years later, in September 2000, for the filming of Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Could it be missing a return to Naboo? Of course not! The combination of the Royal Palace of Caserta – Star Wars was renewed for a few days of filming, to shoot scenes set in the Royal Palace of Naboo.
The upper vestibule was again the Throne Room, in which the new Senator Amidala, in danger of life, agrees with the new Queen of Naboo a place to hide on her planet, while the intergalactic war is coming.
The Palace of Star Wars in Battlefront II
In 2017, 15 years after the release of Episode II, the Royal Palace of Caserta appeared in the last incarnation of the videogame series of Star Wars. A video game mission takes us back to the staircase of honour and in the upper vestibule to shoot against the droids. With a small difference from Episode I: in the middle of the staircase appear the lions digitally removed from the film of the first Star Wars movie shot at the Palace of Caserta.