Channeling Princess Di: Who Inspired the Actors on Royals?

March 13, 2015

When E!’s new show The Royals begins on March 15, it’ll already be destined for dynasty. The network has renewed the show for a second season before it’s series premiere—but wouldn’t you? With an all-star cast featuring Elizabeth Hurley as the Queen of England and Joan Collins as the Grand Duchess of Oxford, plus a pair of up-and-comers playing troubled heirs to the throne (William Moseley as a prince slumming it with a commoner, and Alexandra Park as a princess who loves to party), it’s got all the makings of a soapy success.

We caught up with the cast and asked them who inspired their takes on royalty, what they watch in their downtime, and what they would do if they were if they really ruled England.

Did you look to any specific royals for inspiration? 

Elizabeth Hurley: I drew inspiration from many sources. I didn’t use the real Queen of England because she’s a different generation and that isn’t what our show’s about. I like to think how Princess Diana could have looked and dressed had she ever become Queen of England—she looked very modern, very fresh—and then there was Cruella de Vil. There were a lot of people I pulled on to make my part three-dimensional. She’s not a cookie cutter queen. She’s her own self. She’s out there, so I could make a lot of it up.

William Moseley: I was drawn to playing Prince Liam when I read the pilot. I felt he had a great deal of humanity and a great many flaws. It was interesting to watch someone lose the world they knew and have to redefine themselves as Liam does when his older brother dies.

Did you study any royal exploits to get into character?

Alexandra Park: In my preparation for Eleanor, I didn’t study famous royal tabloid exploits. I don’t really follow the royal family very much myself. Eleanor is a stand-alone princess, she’s never been done before. My inspiration came from a handful of brilliantly complicated woman from all over, including a handful of Disney characters as well.

WM: I didn’t do a lot of research. I found out about what it must be like to be a prince by playing Liam. There is a golden prison sensation, which I hope comes across in the show.

What do you think the hardest part of being royalty would be?

AP: I think the hardest part about being royalty would be the limitations in terms of privacy, individuality, choice, and obligations. Throughout the story we follow these characters who are just people, like you and me. When you are born into royalty, your choices are very limited in terms of career and independence. You have a destiny. You had no choice in the matter. Eleanor is a princess who is trying to find her place in the world, like all of us. We all want to find something we love that we are good at. Royals don’t have the choice to go out and be a doctor or a nurse or a dancer or a painter. They are royals, with duties and an image to uphold.

WM: The hardest part about being royalty would be the aspect that there is a ceiling to your life. I think for a lot of us we dream about all these wonderful things we can do, and for some it really happens. However, being a royal means a privileged life of service and nothing more.

If you were actually royalty, what would you do with that power?
AP: Huge question! I think the only way I can answer this is that I would want to know how to use that power properly, with dignity and pride, doing the right thing by everyone, helping others and trying not to let anyone down.

WM: If I was royalty I would probably have a lot of fun and then I’d do some good after! I’d like to go to a private island with all my friends. The surf would be clear, glassy, and just amazing. I’d surf with all my friends, have a crazy party, and then head home. Once I get back I would work with charities for children like one that is near my house in England. They take care of sick and unwell children.

When you have time, what TV shows do you watch?
AP: I literally watch anything and everything. Any downtime and my couch with a series marathon is exactly where I am. The bar is set so high in television these days. It’s such vast versatility and done at movie standards. Some of my favorite shows at the moment are Homeland, The Leftovers, The Jinx, Togetherness, Transparent, American Horror Story, Broadchurch, The Killing… just to name a few. I could go on and on.

WM: I love to watch The Sopranos, I’m halfway through season five and can honestly say I think it’s the best show ever written. It’s brilliantly created and acted.

Don’t miss The Royals series premiere March 15 at 10/9c on E! (Ch. 236)


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