The Crown is one of the jewels of Netflix's original series, known for its lush production values and imagining of the British royal family's private moments. Vanessa Kirby portrayed the queen's younger sister, Princess Margaret, in Seasons 1 and 2, while Helena Bonham Carter took over the role beginning in Season 3.
Princess Margaret's destiny is to support her sister from the wings, a role she often chafed against due to her desire for the spotlight and feistier personality. With the sisters' complicated relationship, it's no wonder that newspapers speculated whether she was a royal asset or a dangerous liability for the queen. Below are ten hidden details about Princess Margaret's costumes you probably didn't notice.
10 Princess Margaret wore a different dress to meet LBJ
Photographs show that the real Princess Margaret wore a different dress to the state dinner with LBJ than the one portrayed on The Crown. Amy Roberts explained that she let her imagination run wild because the party was a private, imagined moment rather than an event so well-documented that she had no choice but to recreate the clothes faithfully. Because there are only a few official photos of the state dinner, Roberts felt that she had free reign to be more creative. In doing so, she ended up with a red and white floral ballgown on the show instead of a pink gown with matching bolero jacket.
9 She channeled midcentury Hollywood glamor
Specifically, Elizabeth Taylor. The first time we see Margaret in Season 3, she is lying facedown in bed, looking eerily like her younger self as she reached out to pick up the phone. The diamond bracelet and kaftan she wore on her way to Tony's apartment both set the stage for Margaret's fashion in Season 3, which was old Hollywood glamour. The Liz Taylor influence was particularly apparent in her loungewear, which was drapey and flowy, with one sleeve off the shoulder while Margaret held a cigarette in her final scene with Elizabeth. She also wore a fur coat to the pool, her armor against the fallout from her collapsing marriage.
8 The boa and top hat were all Helena Bonham-Carter
In the Season 3 finale, Princess Margaret wore a top hat and boa for a duet with her lover, Roddy Llewellyn. According to the costume designer, Amy Roberts, this costume choice was mainly due to Helena Bonham-Carter's bohemian sense of style. It makes sense considering the outfit barely resembled the glamorous ensembles that Princess Margaret wore throughout the rest of the season. This one was pure fun -- and so was the song she played on the piano, which was much livelier than "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," the ballad she sang with her father in Season 1.
7 Her costumes played off Elizabeth's
Much like a pair of feuding sisters in another period piece, Margaret's costumes naturally played off of Elizabeth's in The Crown. When Vanessa Kirby was portraying the younger Princess Margaret, costume designer Michele Clapton made sure that her clothes were a little better cut to look like she was more invested in her appearance than Queen Elizabeth.
After Helena Bonham Carter took over the role, incoming designer Amy Roberts used color to reflect the sisters' different personalities. Aubergines, oranges, and olive greens represented Margaret's rootlessness and toxicity, and brighter and more pastel tones showed off Elizabeth's steady, calm temperament.
6 Her costumes showed her connections to the art world
Princess Margaret was already very fashionable and edgy from the start of Season 1. Her fashion evolution in Season 2 came in the form of bohemian influences that were more connected to the art world than the aristocracy. A prime example is the statement coat she wore on her motorcycle ride with Tony Armstrong-Jones in "Matrimonium." After Margaret met Tony, she began to live a life outside of the palace, where she socialized with artists and celebrities. This breaking away from royal protocol is seen in her costumes, such as this wool coat with an orange and black check pattern, which Margaret accessorized with shades and orange gloves.
5 Her wedding dress was a faithful replica
In the Season 2 episode "Matrimonum," Vanessa Kirby descended the stairs of Clarence House in a pared-back silk organza gown that was a reproduction of Princess Margaret's real dress at her 1960 wedding to Anthony Armstrong-Jones. In keeping with tradition, she rode in the glass carriage to Westminster Abbey with her brother-in-law, Prince Philip, and waved to the crowds after the ceremony from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Because Kirby is seven inches taller than Margaret, the dress had to be tailored to her proportions. But the real challenge was finding the right fabric to create the soft, cloud-like shape of the skirt. With the right weight, the organza would hold the shape but still offer some visibility through the fabric.
4 The Poltimore tiara made several appearances
The Queen Mother bought the Poltimore tiara as a wedding gift to her daughter, Princess Margaret. The princess wore the tiara at her wedding to Tony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. It also appeared in a photograph by Armstrong-Jones that became publically available after her death in 2002.
In the photograph, Princess Margaret is sitting in the bath wearing the Poltimore tiara. Both events made it into The Crown, which meant that the tiara appeared twice, in "Matrimonium" and "Margaretology." The portrayal in the latter episode differed slightly from the actual photo: it depicts Margaret in a bubble bath, whereas there were no bubbles in the real picture.
3 The butterfly dress was the most expensive costume on the show
In "Beryl," Princess Margaret sits for two portraits: one with Cecil Beaton in a flowing ballgown, and the second with her future husband at his studio. The gown, which was based on the real dress Margaret wore for her 29th birthday portrait, is reportedly the most expensive costume made for the show, mainly due to the intricate embroidery.
The real dress was recently on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum's Dior exhibition and appeared on the front cover of Harpers Bazaar in February. Of course, it was not the photograph Margaret used for her official birthday portrait.
2 Her cocktail dresses in Season 1 were daringly low cut
Margaret was only 17 in the first episode of The Crown, "Wolferton Splash." Her style was much more classical in the early days of the show, with tweed and long jackets for scenes on her horse. However, there were signs that she was already beginning to blossom into the bohemian fashionista that we see in later seasons. Her off-the-shoulder cocktail gowns were extremely low cut and daring, and she wore patterns and silhouettes that made her stand out as too stylish in the royal residences. Michele Clapton also made a point of making sure all of Margaret's costumes looked like the princess had had at least three fittings, compared to her sister's one.
1 "Beryl" was the catalyst for her fashion evolution
As mentioned above, Princess Margaret was already fashionable in Season 1, wearing much trendier and daring cuts than her mother and sister. She introduced a bohemian sensibility to her wardrobe after meeting Tony Armstrong-Jones in Season 2. The turning point in her fashion evolution was the photoshoot with Tony in "Beryl," where he pushed Margaret's dress sleeves over her shoulders. Because Margaret had been seen with bare shoulders before, that alone would not have had the shock value to convey the intimacy of the moment. After that scene, Margaret never wore a dress with the same silhouette again.