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Image / Editorial

Helena Bonham Carter sought Princess Margaret’s blessing for ‘The Crown’ through a psychic


By Leonie Corcoran
06th Oct 2019

helena bonham carter princess margaret in The Crown. Credit: Vanity Fair

Helena Bonham Carter sought Princess Margaret’s blessing for ‘The Crown’ through a psychic

Helena Bonham Carter plays Princess Margaret in the next series of ‘The Crown’ and we can’t wait…


Helena Bonham Carter has spoken of the difficulty of playing Princess Margaret in the forthcoming series of The Crown and explained why she consulted a psychic about the role.

The actress is taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister from Vanessa Kirby for the show’s upcoming third season, and has admitted that she is nervous to be following in the Bafta winner’s footsteps.

“It’s daunting, definitely daunting. Vanessa has just won a Bafta and she’s brilliant, and in a way you have the ghost of the real Margaret and the ghost of the actress who played her,” Bonham Carter said at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Watch: Princess Diana in The Crown

“You also have the fact everyone has an opinion about the woman and yet ultimately very few people knew what her private life was like and that’s the sort of the joy of the job.”

She said she had read biographies of Princess Margaret and also spoke with close friends, family and ladies-in-waiting. She also consulted an astrologer, a graphologist and a psychic.

Speaking at the literature festival (via The Guardian), Bonham Carter said you want someone’s “blessing” when you are going to play them and so she consulted a psychic.

“That is a classic Margaret thing to say. She was really good at complimenting you and putting you down at the same time.”

“She said, apparently, she was glad it was me,” said Bonham Carter about the physic session. “My main thing when you play someone who is real, you kind of want their blessing because you have a responsibility. So I asked her: ‘Are you OK with me playing you?’ and she said: ‘You’re better than the other actress’ … that they were thinking of. They will not admit who it was. It was me and somebody else.”

Related: Olivia Coleman as the queen

“That made me think maybe she is here, because that is a classic Margaret thing to say. She was really good at complimenting you and putting you down at the same time.”

“Then she said: ‘But you’re going to have to brush up and be more groomed and neater.’ Then she said: ‘Get the smoking right. I smoked in a very particular way. Remember that – this is a big note – the cigarette holder was as much a weapon for expression as it was for smoking’.”

Misunderstood royal

Bonham Carter said Margaret was a misunderstood and misinterpreted royal. People thought her “angry, rude and tough” but “she wasn’t tough at all, she was highly vulnerable and often attack is the best form of defence”.

She said Margaret was very much her father’s daughter, with his stammer and anxiety.

“She smoked throughout her life and she drank. It was like she didn’t have the extra layer of skin.”

Alongside Helena, Olivia Colman will be joining the cast to take over the role of Queen Elizabeth II, following on from Claire Foy, while Tobias Menzies will portray Prince Phillip, after Matt Smith played him during the first two seasons.

Photograph: Vanity Fair