Princess Margaret is one of the most fascinating characters to emerge from The Crown. All of her life, she has to stand in the shadow of her sister and given that she’s such a fierce personality, she often finds this a bit of a heavy lift.
Even more tragically, she seems drawn to romantic relationships that have almost no chance of being able to succeed, and it seems that she will almost never find happiness. Both Vanessa Kirby and Helena Bonham Carter, in their different ways, can rightfully claim to be the best person to have brought Margaret to life.
10 Vanessa Kirby: More Vulnerability
Margaret is one of those people who really does hate to be seen as the object of anyone else’s pity. As a result, she sometimes goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure that others see her as strong.
However, the brilliance of Kirby’s performance is that she lets the audience see the more vulnerable side of Margaret’s personality, that part of her that just wants to be able to be loved and accepted on her own terms rather than as a member of the royal family.
9 Helena Bonham Carter: More Fiercely Independent
Helena Bonham Carter has a well-established record of playing fiercely independent characters, women who aren’t afraid to say what they think and sometimes be quite dangerous (most notably, of course, Bellatrix Lestrange).
So, it’s not surprising that she brings all of this to bear in her characterization as Margaret, and she shows the ways in which this was a woman who wasn’t going to let anyone, let alone the members of her family, tell her how to live her life.
8 Vanessa Kirby: More Innocence
There’s something incredibly charming and almost heartbreaking about the way in which the young Margaret seems to be innocent. Unlike Elizabeth, who is thrust into the limelight as the heir to the throne and is thus forced to pick up the heavy burden of being the sovereign, Margaret occupies a strange space, both of the royal family and yet also not quite as important as her sibling.
With Vanessa Kirby, the audience gets to see how this affects her (sometimes very naive) way of looking at the world and her place in it.
7 Helena Bonham Carter: Wiser (And More Cynical)
By the time the audience gets to season three, it’s clear that Margaret’s life hasn’t turned out quite the way that she would have liked. Her marriage to Tony is fast falling apart, and she still struggles to see how she fits in with her family and her place in the monarchy.
Helena Bonham Carter shows Margaret as a woman who’s a bit wiser about the hardness of the world, one who’s a bit more cynical about the powers of love to change one’s life.
6 Vanessa Kirby: Stronger Sense Of Her Relationship With Her Sister
There was something inspired about the casting choices in the first two seasons, and there’s undeniable chemistry between Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby.
Watching the two of them on-screen together, one can actually believe that they are two sisters, each of them fated to tread a very different path, one to become queen, the other to exist in her shadow. Kirby does an excellent job of helping the audience understand the complex relationship she has with her elder sister.
5 Helena Bonham Carter: Her Experience Playing Royalty
In addition to her many other acting roles (she’s a remarkably prolific actress), Helena Bonham Carter is no stranger to playing royals. In fact, she played none other than the Queen Mother in the film The King’s Speech.
She has also played other British royals, including the infamous Anne Boleyn. She brings all of this experience to full effect in her characterization of Margaret who becomes, in her hands, an even more fascinating and sometimes enigmatic character.
4 Vanessa Kirby: Getting To See What Makes Her Tick
One of the best things about Vanessa Kirby’s Margaret is how open she is about her feelings. Watching her throughout the first two seasons, the viewer gets a thorough sense of who she is as a person, what makes her behave and believe the way that she does.
Helena Bonham Carter’s Margaret, by contrast, is both an institution and an enigma and, with some notable exceptions, it’s often rather difficult to tell why it is that she is the person she has become.
3 Helena Bonham Carter: Has More Of An Edge
There’s a scene in season four where poor Diana comes into the room with the gathered royals and interrupts a story that Margaret is telling. Rather than reaching out to welcome this obviously very nervous young woman, Margaret goes out of her way to be more than a little cruel.
While this makes her unpleasant, the way that Carter delivers her lines means that the audience can’t help but be a little in awe of someone who has that much of an edge yet somehow manages to be charismatic through it all.
2 Vanessa Kirby: She Captures Young Love Perfectly
Margaret has, to put it mildly, had a bit of a tragic love life. In fact, it’s her inability to find someone with who she can find true happiness that is one of her greatest motivations as a character in the early seasons.
Kirby manages to capture so much of the angst and sadness that Margaret must have felt when the first man that she loved was denied her, largely because he was deemed unsuitable and would have violated certain expectations of who a member of the royal family was supposed to marry.
1 Helena Bonham Carter: Has A Keener Political Mind
Vanessa Kirby’s Margaret is, to put it mildly, a bit of a novice when it comes to politics. Since she will almost certainly never become queen, she focuses mostly on her personal life and desires.
Helena Bonham Carter’s Margaret, on the other hand, is very much a political animal, and she actually proves very pivotal in the relationship between the United Kingdom and President Johnson of the United States. It’s one of those moments where the audience wonders what might have been had Margaret become queen.