Princess Margaret is still pretty spirited — at least according to Helena Bonham Carter.
The actor, who plays the royal who died in 2002 in Season 3 of Netflix’s The Crown, told the audience at the Cheltenham Literary Festival that she did some pretty thorough research into the life of Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister.
This included talking to friends, ladies-in-waiting and relatives. But, according to The Guardian, she didn’t stop there.
In order for Helena to be as accurate as possible, she also consulted a graphologist, an astrologer (Margaret was a Leo, in case you were wondering) and a psychic.
The latter allowed the actor to talk to Princess Margaret herself, and it sounds like the two had a very interesting exchange.
Princess Margaret, for instance, seemed mostly satisfied that Helena would be portraying her.
“She said, apparently, she was glad it was me,” Helena said. “My main thing when you play someone who is real, you kind of want their blessing because you have a responsibility.”
But the late Margaret’s approval wasn’t completely wholehearted.
“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.”
It sounds like Margaret was referring to the other actor who was considered to play an older version of herself (rather than Vanessa Kirby, who played a younger Princess Margaret in the first two seasons of The Crown), whose identity she presumably gleaned from her perch in the afterlife. The late princess’s slight also felt authentic to Helena.
“That made me think maybe she is here,” Helena said. “Because that is a classic Margaret thing to say. She was really good at complimenting you and putting you down at the same time.”
Through the psychic, Princess Margaret also offered Helena some advice — and another dig— as well.
“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.’”
Speaking to Princess Margaret beyond the grave was not the only connection Helena has to the famous royal.
She also said at the festival that her uncle, Mark Bonham-Carter, once dated Princess Margaret, The Sun reported.
“Uncle Mark escaped as a prisoner in Italy in the Second World War,” she said. “They didn’t send him away again, they put him at Windsor and he guarded Princess Margaret and Elizabeth. I have photos of [Mark and Margaret] together. They looked dashing and remained good friends.”
She then jokingly remarked on her role, “It’s weird, I basically went out with my uncle.”