Vanessa Kirby plays Princess Margaret in the Netflix series The Crown
Vanessa Kirby plays Princess Margaret in the Netflix series The Crown

Unexpected royal we’ve fallen in love with

ON PAPER, there is nothing about Princess Margaret, the late sister of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, that should make her relatable to modern millennial women in 2017.

She was born in 1903, has been dead since 2002 and lived a luxurious life of taxpayer-funded privilege that is alien to most civilians.

Unlike the altruistic Princess Diana and our new princess-to-be Meghan Markle, Princess Margaret was not interested in charity work or philanthropy.

Her life was marred by scandal.

She was famous for her drinking, her smoking and her partying, as well as the many men she loved.

During her marriage to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, Margaret reportedly had affairs with many high profile men, including Mick Jagger and Peter Sellers, and her divorce in 1978 earned her negative publicity.

According to her friend, American writer Gore Vidal, she was characterised by the press as the "evil sister" of Buckingham Palace.

Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret in The Crown. Picture: Netflix
Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret in The Crown. Picture: Netflix

But British actor Vanessa Kirby's portrayal of the glamorous and rebellious royal in season 2 of The Crown, which premiered on Netflix last week, has ignited a new wave of affection for Princess Margaret among young women.

"You just want Margaret by your side because she says everything you're thinking. That's why I love her," Ms Kirby, 29, told Glamour.

While she was alive, Margaret's behaviour was characterised as snobby and flippant. Kinder observers described her as ahead of her time.

Now, Netflix's young fans have ordained her a modern feminist icon.

"What I'm saying is, we are all, or have been, Princess Margaret," wrote one female fan on Twitter.

 

Vanessa Kirby’s portrayal has sparked a new wave of love for Princess Margaret
Vanessa Kirby’s portrayal has sparked a new wave of love for Princess Margaret
The release of a new book about Margaret in October unveiled an amusing account of her average morning routine.

The excerpt from author Craig Brown's Ma'am Darling: 99 Glimpses Of Princess Margaret went viral on social media.

Margaret would eat her breakfast in bed at 9am, followed by a bath at 11am, then hair and make-up.

She appeared downstairs at 12.30pm "for a vodka pick-me-up" and then had a four-course lunch with her mother, "served in an informal manner from silver dishes with half a bottle of wine per person plus fruit and half a dozen different varieties of native and Continental cheeses".

 

Season 2 of The Crown chronicles Margaret's depression as she recovers from the end of her relationship with Group Captain Peter Townsend, a divorcee who she was forbidden from marrying.

During episode four she meets Armstrong-Jones, played by Matthew Goode, an unconventional man who finally meets his match.

Seeing Margaret fall in and out of love - all the while drinking and smoking heavily - provides an emotional catharsis that counteracts the Queen's fierce stoicism.

Margaret's vulnerability and suffering has endeared her to a whole new generation of women, some who are too young to remember her when she was alive.

Vanessa Kirby will pass the baton onto a different actor for the next few seasons of The Crown.

The show's creators have decided to cast new actors in all the key roles, including the Queen and Prince Philip.

With one last shot to do her justice, Ms Kirby wanted to pour emotion and heart into her performance.

"I actually felt like a real obligation," she told news.com.au.

"I love Margaret so much, I want to do her justice but I also really wanted people to feel for her.

"I felt like that was my responsibility because what she went through was really tough and very strange."

Before landing the role, the actor was uninterested in the royals.

"But I view them as human beings now and a family that's gone through a lot and didn't have a choice, instead of them being these public figures that don't really seem real," she said.

"It gave me a huge amount of respect and empathy for them that I didn't have before.

"I feel much warmer towards them now - Harry and William and all of them - I feel much prouder that they're a part of us."

rebecca.sullivan@news.com.au



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