How do you get inside Princess Kate‘s head? Charlotte Riley may know a thing or two.
The actress will portray Kate in the upcoming made-for-TV film, King Charles III, based on the Tony-winning play of the same name that imagines the beginnings of Prince Charles‘s eventual reign — with some Shakespearian-style twists and turns. In a new interview with The Guardian, Riley (who is married to actor Tom Hardy in real life), Riley talked about the role, and what she thinks Kate is like outside of the public eye.
In King Charles III, Princess Kate is cunning and even a bit manipulative, with Riley herself saying that she’s a Lady Macbeth type “to an extent.” But she defends her version of Kate’s more shrewd moments.
“She’s just being pragmatic,” Riley told The Guardian. “She’s saying: ‘Come on, guys. It’s s**t that the only way I can connect with the public is by being a bloody clotheshorse, but if I have to do that for the monarchy to stay relevant, then so be it. Let’s suck it up. And I’m sorry, Charles, but we’re relevant and you’re not any more.'”
“I like to think she’s a powerhouse behind closed doors,” she says.
To get in character, Riley watched the documentaries and films based on Kate’s life, as well as studying footage of Kate herself.
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“I dived deep into YouTube,” she says. “I became obsessed with finding people’s phone footage of her, to see her slightly more relaxed and unguarded. Although she’s always on public display to some extent. She must be acutely aware of being watched the entire time.”
And though Riley said her family “howled with laughter” when they found out she’d be playing the royal, she does say she feels a kinship with Kate. As Riley herself is a mother parenting alongside a famous husband, she says she feels a certain connection with the real-life royal mom over their shared experiences.
“She must be fiercely protective of her children,” she says. “William grew up with all that scrutiny but she didn’t. It must be hard having to share your kids with the nation. I keep my family very private, but I’m not under a fraction of the pressure she is.”
King Charles III airs on Sunday March 14 on PBS.