The Crown’s Helena Bonham Carter reveals how Princess Margaret was rude to her when they met

The two have met on several occasions

Helena Bonham Carter
(Image credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Helena Bonham Carter portrayed the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, in The Crown seasons 3 and 4.

And while her portrayal was met with nothing but praise, Helena has revealed that she didn’t receive quite as much of a warm reception from Princess Margaret herself when they met.

The actor’s family moved in similar circles and she is a cousin by marriage to one of Princess Margaret’s former ladies-in-waiting, Anne Glenconner. Bonham Carter’s uncle even dated the princess for a time.

Speaking to The Guardian, Bonham Carter recently revealed, “Margaret was dimly in the back of my childhood”. She then told of how she remembers “backing into her and her giving me one of her sharp looks” when she was a child.

But it wasn’t until much later that the actor received one of Princess Margaret’s well-known backhanded compliments. The events unfolded at “one of those dos”, Bonham Carter explained and the princess recognized her, remarking, “You're getting better at acting”.

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Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown Season 4

Speaking to The Guardian, Bonham Carter revealed, “Margaret was dimly in the back of my childhood”. She then told of how she remembers “backing into her and her giving me one of her sharp looks” when she was a child.

But it wasn’t until much later that the actor received one of Princess Margaret’s well-known backhanded compliments. The events unfolded at “one of those dos”, Bonham Carter explained and the princess recognized her, remarking, “You're getting better at acting”.

Far from being taken aback by the comment, the actor took it in her stride. She revealed she wasn’t surprised, because “that was so her. She used to put people down in a sort-of compliment”.

How did Helena Bonham Carter prepare for The Crown?

Helena didn’t let personal experience govern her portrayal of the princess in The Crown. The actor discussed how she spent many months researching the Queen’s sister. She was keen to explore alternative sides to her, rather than focusing on her rather well-documented put-downs.

“I’m not disputing Margaret was rude,” Bonham Carter said. She added that “often the reason people attack others is because they feel vulnerable”.

As part of her research, she spoke to those who knew Princess Margaret best, including Anne Glenconner. This way, she was able to get a well-rounded understanding of her character, remarking, “honestly, you should see my Margaret file!”

The Crown season 5

Helena joined Netflix’s The Crown as Princess Margaret from season 3 and continued her role into season 4. Helena took over from Vanessa Kirby who played the princess in her earlier years. For season 5 it's believed that Lesley Manville will be taking on the challenge.

The Crown season 5 release date has not yet been announced. Though back in April this year, Variety reported that production on The Crown season 5 is set to start this month with a potential release in 2022.

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.


Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.


In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com. 


After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!