How Erin Doherty Turned The Most Overlooked Royal Into A The Crown Favorite

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
The casting of Emma Corrin as Princess Diana on The Crown was met with a fervor so strong, you probably forget she doesn’t actually show up in the series until season 4. The highly-anticipated character comes with heavy expectations given the real-life princess’ enduring popularity (in both the fashion world and beyond) over 20 years after her tragic death, but actress Erin Doherty faced no such pressure. The Call The Midwife actress’ casting as Princess Anne was announced last summer without much fanfare, because, as she and I discussed on the phone ahead of The Crown’s season 3 release, Anne herself hadn’t made many — if any — waves in pop culture. This was by design, we both agreed. While the princess may have been the busiest royal of 2018, she doesn’t involve herself in the flashier aspects of her title, and is nowhere to be found in stories regarding palace feuds
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“I got off the phone with my agent and I had to go away and Google this woman,” Doherty admitted. “I kind of used that because I feel like that's a definite decision on her part to take a step back from public life and it informed a lot of my decisions about creating that type of character.”
That type of elusive and independent character ended up being an overwhelming fan favorite. It’s easy to see why: She spars with Prince Philip, sings along to David Bowie, and is unabashed about her casual sex — even in front of the Queen.
The perhaps most overlooked princess shines on screen thanks to Doherty’s reserved yet cheeky portrayal, but I needed to know more about how she brought one of the most mysterious royals to life, starting with that wild accent.
Refinery29: Can you explain Princess Anne’s accent in the show?
Erin Doherty: “No one talks the way that the royal family talks. It's its own thing, which is so bizarre. Unless you want to play a royal, you will never have done this voice in your life. I recorded Anne and put on my headphones and would just walk around London with her in my ears trying to replicate it.” 
“There was one particular interview with her on Parkinson that had been put on to YouTube and I watched her and I realized that she really was not moving her lips very much at all. That, and also the placement of her voice, really affected the way I would engage with her as a character. I feel like it's a massive insight into where she is psychologically.”
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What qualities of Princess Anne's did you want to highlight?
“I'm really, really excited for there to be a woman with her personality portrayed on screen because I feel like you don't meet that very often, the determination of spirit. She's just so committed to telling people what she really thinks.” 
Did you know about Princess Anne’s scandalous love triangle?
“I had no idea. We were getting the script in bursts, so when that came through I was gobsmacked. And that's why [creator] Peter Morgan is so clever because he knows exactly what the public does know about the royals and he just chooses to not write about that.”
Has playing a royal made you more sympathetic do things like Meghan Markle drama?
“I actually don't think I really had an opinion of the royals before I started doing the show. I think as a Brit, they're just kind of there. You watch the Queen's speech at Christmas, you watch the weddings, but that's kind of it. So since doing the show and looking into their history and really getting underneath the skin of Princess Anne, I go home at the end of every shooting day and I close the door and I'm genuinely grateful to not be in that position. I really feel for the whole family because I people are just waiting for them to slip up or for them to say something that they can point out. It's heartbreaking to see that they can't really move a muscle.”
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The one scandal I couldn't believe I hadn't heard about before was the Aberfan disaster. Was there any other history in this season that was new to you?
“I didn't really know too much about Prince Philip and the moon landing. The fact that Peter chose to speak about such an American highlight in history through the eyes of these royals is a really interesting choice.” 
This season is all about the rise of the younger generation. Which royal would be the best at social media?
“If social media existed in the timeframe that we're doing it, I feel like Charles (Josh O'Connor) would smash it. He's got the whole drama thing going on; he'd do the whole backstage thing. He'd probably do an Instagram Story of him getting ready. Anne would have none of it. She's just not about that.”
The Crown is people’s first time discovering you, what doors do you hope it will open? 
“I'm trying not to anticipate anything. I don't want to get disappointed. You can never tell,. And that's also the great part about being an actor: One moment you're playing a princess and the next moment, I dunno, you're playing a hairdresser.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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