'Crown' Star Erin Doherty Says Playing Princess Anne Was "Surreal"

by Lia Beck
Erin Doherty as Princess Anne on 'The Crown'
Des Willie/Netflix

As The Crown moves into the 1960s and '70s with Season 3, the characters are changing along with the times. That includes Queen Elizabeth's children, who were just kids during the first two seasons. Now, Josh O'Connor has taken on the role of Prince Charles, while Anne Doherty plays Princess Anne — who, without spoiling anything, is quite the scene-stealer in Season 3.

As reported by Town & Country, The Crown's third season spans from 1964 to 1977, during which time Princess Anne would have been between 14 and 27 years old. Per The Telegraph, Anne will first appear in Season 3 when she's in her late teens, meaning Doherty — who is 27 herself — will have to play younger at first, and then older than her real age during The Crown Season 4.

When asked by The Telegraph which events from Anne's life will be depicted in the show, Doherty played coy, saying, "You know what happens to Anne. It's not hard to guess." This could mean, for instance, Anne's 1973 wedding, the time she stood up to a kidnapper in 1974, or her time competing as an equestrian in the 1976 Olympics. But according to Doherty, what makes The Crown's characters "so fascinating" is the way series creator Peter Morgan "focuses on stories which might not have been the headlines everyone remembers."

As for Doherty, she's not new to acting, but having come from a theater background, is rather new to TV. Her previous onscreen credits include an episode of Call the Midwife (which starred fellow new Crown actor Emerald Fennel, who plays a young Duchess Camilla) and a TV version of Les Misérables (which featured Josh O'Connor, who plays Prince Charles).

Doherty told the Telegraph that she's found filming for The Crown "surreal," as have her roommates, who can't believe she gets to see co-star Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II) all the time. "I obviously can’t tell her that they love her in Fleabag every day, that would be weird," she said.

Though Doherty didn't know much about Princess Anne going into the show, she told The Italian Rêve that she tried to use this to her benefit and found it freeing as an actor. However, she did do research on Anne's accent and mannerisms, and also found a way to relate to what the princess went through as she transitioned to public royal duties.

"I literally put myself in her shoes and responded as I would," Doherty said, "because I don't think she's prepared at all, and that comes through her conversations that you’ll see throughout the series with her family ... she's questioning why she has to live a life this way."

Des Willie/Netflix

Starring on The Crown could lead to Doherty relating to Princess Anne in another way, because it's propelling her into the public eye, too. She told the Telegraph in her October interview that at that point, she hadn't even done a red carpet event yet, but added, "What I hope is that you'll still be able to see me [even when I'm dressed up on the red carpet] and I'll look back and think this whole experience was amazing and fun, not a surreal period of my life that I didn't really live in."