Meg Bellamy discusses playing Kate Middleton in TV drama
In the world of “The Crown,” one princess of Wales has departed; another is beginning her ascent.
The Netflix drama about the British Royal Family returns next Thursday, nearly a month after the debut of the four episodes depicting the last weeks of Diana, Princess of Wales, her death in August 1997 and its aftermath.
These remaining six episodes of the sixth and final season will presumably be less wrenching — although the period they cover includes the deaths of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother, there are happier events on which to focus, including the romance of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. (They will reportedly also cover Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, and the wedding of the now King Charles and Queen Camilla in 2005.)
Kate — now Catherine, Princess of Wales — is played by Meg Bellamy, a 21-year-old whose only previous screen credit was a short film called “The Prince of Savile Row,” according to IMDb.com. That she went from working at the Legoland theme park in Windsor, in the royals’ backyard, to portraying the commoner who became a duchess and the future queen of England is something of a rags to riches story in itself.
“It’s amazing, yeah. It’s very, very surreal, but a real privilege to play Kate,” Bellamy said in a video interview when asked how it felt to play such a prominent role in her first professional job.
It was also scary, Bellamy conceded.
“You feel pressured not only because you’re playing a real person, but because ‘The Crown’ is such a successful, well-established show,” she added. “I didn’t want to let anybody down.”
Bellamy, who grew up in Wokingham, just 35 kilometres from Bucklebury, where Kate was raised, at least didn’t have to follow in another actor’s footsteps. Whereas the other royals have been played by different actors at different ages, Bellamy is the series’ only Kate.
Just a single episode featuring Bellamy was made available to media ahead of the new episodes’ debut. We see Kate first as a teenager with a mild crush on William after a sighting on a London street and then as a first-year student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, taking an art history class with the prince but dating someone else.
The royal romance will clearly be explored further in other episodes. We already know, based on photos released by Netflix, that the fashion show in which the real-life Kate modelled a see-through dress, the supposed start of her affair with the future king, will be recreated in the series.
Bellamy told E! News that she was nervous about shooting that scene, not because of what she was wearing but because of the historical significance of the event, but was quickly made to feel comfortable.
In our interview, she reiterated that whatever nerves she had going into filming were quickly dispatched.
“My preconception was that it would feel pressurized and it really couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s so welcoming,” Bellamy said of the set.
“And I think, because it’s such a well-oiled machine, everybody is on top of their game, which means everybody’s just doing their own thing, which kind of allowed me to just go and do my own thing, and just be part of the puzzle and take pride in working really hard for it.”
Bellamy had particular praise for Ed McVey and Luther Ford, who play Prince William and Prince Harry this season.
“We’re all in the same boat (as newcomers to the series), which has been really lovely to start and end this journey with them,” Bellamy said.
“We can ask each other the silly questions and be equally brighteyed and excited, but also really lean on each other when we need to and when stuff gets intense, because it is an intense experience.”
Bellamy was just eight when William and Kate married in 2011.
Although she was aware of the royals growing up, she didn’t have strong feelings about them, she said, “but I was always very fond of Kate.”
Bellamy found researching the princess a “real pleasure” and an experience that deepened her initial impression of Kate, that she’s “very approachable, great with people, great at connecting … I think her character is very self-assured.”
Some self-assurance will undoubtedly come in handy as Bellamy steps into the next phase of her career. Her association with “The Crown” has thrust her into a type of fame she likely never dreamed of when she was walking around dressed as a red brick in Legoland.
She wasn’t focusing on fame during our brief chat but on the people she met making the series.
“Even though the show is now over, I’ve made friends for life … the hardest part about leaving the show was leaving behind the people, because you become such a big family on such an intimate set,” she said.
“I never expected to make such amazing friends.”
There was time for just one last question. Had Bellamy considered the possibility of the real Kate watching her in “The Crown”?
“I’ve definitely thought about it. I kind of try not to put too much thought into it just because I think it can be off-putting when you’re working. But I do wonder,” she said.
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited