The Crown’s Emma Corrin Is Sure There Was “So Much Love” Between Princess Diana and Prince Charles
The newcomer opens up about her longstanding Diana obsession, pushing for the Princess’s eating disorder to be portrayed onscreen, and naming her dog Spencer.
SEE INTERVIEW VIDEO: here
It isn’t easy to make a fashion statement over Zoom, but Emma Corrin has done it. The actress appears on my screen wearing a horse-patterned dress, and paired it with a gold horse pendant necklace. It’s still stylish somehow, very Alessandro Michele-Gucci maximalist, but definitely a choice—and one that might carry a deeper meaning if she had played famed horse girls Princess Anne or Queen Elizabeth on The Crown.
But no, Corrin is the up-and-coming actress behind the show’s Princess Diana, and is actually “terrified” of horses (“They’re just so huge, they can run so fast”). If anything, her equine outfit is indicative of her willingness to go with the flow: when she was given a horse dress to wear, she realized she “weirdly” had a horse necklace that she’d never had a chance to wear, et voilà, head-to-toe stallions. It’s a quality that will come in handy when I ask her if her dog, whom she named Spencer after you-know-who, has anything in quality with his namesake—Corrin just gives a brief laugh and admits that she’s “not prepared for this to be a question” before indulging me with an answer.
Below, Corrin opens up about season four of The Crown, the complexities of Charles and Diana’s marriage, and finding a mentor in Helena Bonham Carter.
I know you’ve had a longstanding interest in Diana. As someone who, like me, who didn’t know her when she was alive, I’m curious what drew you to her.
I think growing up, I just had this overwhelming awareness of her relatability and that people seemed to adore her for being very empathetic and very caring. I very much grew up with the whole “the People’s Princess” understanding of who she was.
It really intrigued me when I got the role and started doing research, because I was quite keen to actually see, or try and understand, the person behind that, which I suppose is what the series is so great at doing.
How did your perception of her change as you got to know her better?
I don’t think my perception changed particularly, but I think I just had a new understanding or greater understanding of the complexity of everything that she was going through. I really was interested in learning about what she was like when she was younger. I really enjoyed those episodes, particularly everything in episodes two and three I suppose, when she’s meeting the royal family for the first time and you see her with her flatmates and her life before everything. I think it gave me a real appreciation of how young she was and the life she’d left behind and how she went into this thinking it was going to be one thing and then it turned out to be very much another.
Were you at all interested in Charles or Camilla, or know much about them, before the show?
I guess I had a very vague understanding of everything, but I guess also with The Crown, with Peter’s writing, it takes everything behind closed doors. What we end up showing in this season is very much unchartered territory, I suppose. It’s very fictionalized. I mean, Peter has this amazing way of writing very complex human characters and really bringing out the nuance in relationships. I was really interested in learning those nuances in the love triangle, I suppose, as it’s come to be known.
What kind of nuances?
Josh and I talked a lot about the complexities of marriage, I suppose, and also the pressures that everyone was facing in that situation. The pressure that Charles felt to do the right thing, do his duty, choose a wife. And how young Diana was. How she really liked Charles and had an idea that marrying him would be, I suppose as the episode suggests, some kind of fairytale. Then, Charles’s love for Camilla, which to be fair, was there for the whole of his life.
I think it was just a very unfortunate series of events, honestly, and it was just interesting to see all of these things play over each other. I’ve been asked in a lot of interviews like, “Oh, whose side are you on?” Or like, “What do you think about this?” It’s very hard, and it’s impossible to pick a side, because it’s so much more complicated than that.
Also, I hope that we don’t have to choose sides in interpersonal relationships.
Exactly. Right? I mean, that’s the thing—if anyone asks [to choose sides], you should say, “Can you do that in your relationships?” There’s so much more to it than that. Josh and I also always maintain that there must have been so much love between Charles and Diana, because it is possible to love someone and also for it not work out in a marriage or in a relationship. It happens every day, all the time.
When you were preparing for the role, did you get any good insights from people who knew Diana personally?
I met with her personal secretary, Patrick Jephson, who was wonderful to talk to. He was really great. He worked with her for a number of years, and I remember him describing her as such a happy person, and that really meant a lot to me. He said that even though she was going through a lot, especially as the marriage was ending, he said, “If you knew her well, then you knew that you could make her smile in an instance.”
Did he, as her personal secretary, say anything about what it’s like to fit in as a cog in the royal machine?
No, he didn’t really say anything about that, but I think what our series shows, is that everyone… Philip and Diana have a conversation in the last episode, and he’s trying to explain to her that essentially she is a cog in the machine, and he’s like, “We’ve all accepted it, but you’re trying to fight against it.” He said, “If you want love and support and to succeed in this job, you need to accept that the only person that matters is the queen.” Obviously, I think for most people, for Diana, it’s completely insane to ask you to sacrifice your whole life and your purpose in that way. Really, I think it’s a really interesting scene, it encompasses everything about, yeah, all these different people being a cog. I think as well, in Charles’s storyline, that’s a lot of what Charles comes up against.
Totally. I mean, that’s kind of the whole psychodrama of this series, I suppose.
I read that you pushed for Diana’s bulimia to be portrayed honestly and openly in the series, and I was wondering why you felt that that was important?
Yeah, I did. I remember working with Polly Bennett, who was my movement and character coach for the season and, well, I’d watched a lot of documentaries and interviews with Diana where she speaks very candidly about her experiences with bulimia, in a way that I felt was so ahead of her time, really. Because I feel like even if people speak about it these days, it’s still quite a big deal, and it’s applauded because it’s an incredible thing to be able to share and talk about honestly, and should be done more. I mean, she was doing this in the ’80s, and the fact that she spoke about it candidly, I thought to do her justice, it should be included.
Also, through a lot of my research, I realized how symptomatic her bulimia was of everything she was going through at the time. And how it caused a lot of what she was going through at the time. So I thought to just allude to—it or maybe to reference it but not really show it—would be doing her a disservice, or her story a disservice in some way. I also think that it’s just really important that these things are shown on screen—obviously treated in the right way and with trigger warnings and that kind of thing, to be done sensitivity—but I think if you can include these things in an honest way, you should.
Were there any other things that you felt were really important to include about her?
Not specifically—I mean, that’s the only thing that I talked to the script team and worked with them on including. But generally, I really enjoyed finding the balance between her strength and her vulnerability throughout the whole season. I feel like she always treads this fine line between those two things.
I read that Helena Bonham Carter has been giving you a little bit of advice about how to adjust to life in the public eye.
Yeah. I mean, I met her at a screening they held for season three, back when I just got the role last year and she instantly took me under her wing in a wonderful way, that I’m so appreciative of because it’s really meant a lot. I can’t remember any specific advice she’s given me, because obviously she’s been doing this since she was so young and I think also had quite a rapid rise to fame, I suppose and so it’s been really interesting to see how she manages her life. She’s very good at giving advice about how to keep yourself to yourself and not having to give all the time.
And to completely switch gears, why were you inspired to name your dog Spencer?
Probably for obvious reasons. I can’t really remember the conversation that we had about it. I think I was trying to choose a name for him, and my flatmate was like, “Oh, you should call him Diana.” I was like, “Yeah. Very funny.” I think someone then said Diana Spencer, and I’d always wanted to call my dog quite like an old person name, like Janet or something like that. Spencer weirdly fit that bill. It’s weird now, I almost forget that it has any link at all because it suits him so much, because he looks like an old man. He’s got these whiskery little tufts.
Does he have anything in common with his namesake?
With Diana? God, what does he have? Not prepared for this to be a question. I mean, I don’t know if she slept a lot, but he sleeps a lot. Always up for a good time. Very sociable, actually. He’s very sociable. He’s really bad at going for walks because he always misses… He’s very good for going for walks if his friends are there, but if he doesn’t have other dogs, he just gets very bored very easily. So that might be a similarity maybe. I think Diana was a very friendly person.
Good for Spencer. He sounds like a champ.
Very popular dog.
Source: Town & Country