November 25, 2017  •  Leave a Reply Articles, Interviews, Photoshoots

If you were to organise a game of word association with random members of the British public, it’s unlikely that their responses to the name ‘Princess Margaret’ would be wholly generous to the Queen’s late sister.

‘Outrageous’ – that could get an early look in. ‘Rude’ – yes, probably ‘rude’. Then you might hear ‘catty’, ‘cold’, ‘snobbish’ or – if you were permitting compound descriptors – perhaps something like ‘permanently pissed’.

For better or worse, that is Princess Margaret as many remember her, and Vanessa Kirby would have agreed two years ago. In fact, when Kirby was first chosen to portray her in The Crown, Netflix’s colossal-budget series about the reign of Elizabeth II, it was precisely that Margaret she imagined playing.

‘Oh, God yes,’ the 29-year-old says, when we meet for breakfast in north London. ‘The later her was all I knew, and that sounded like so much fun. I just remembered her as a weird, mad old lady [Kirby was 13 when Princess Margaret died following a stroke in 2002] and a total battleaxe. I had no idea what she was like before – hardly anyone did.’

After a while, Kirby realised her task was much more interesting than simply portraying a pantomime Margaret. Instead, she had 20 episodes to play the Princess from her late teens to her mid-30s – pre-battleaxe. The period covered the loss of her father, the ascension of her sister, a controversial attempt at marriage, an also-quite-controversial marriage that would end in divorce, and a gradual embrace of dissent.

In fairy tales, princesses are normally saved from dragons; Kirby had to show us how a princess could turn into one. She had to sow the seeds.

Read the full interview/article in our press library.

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