‘The Crown’: Erin Doherty Says Imitating Princess Anne’s Voice Taught Her ‘Everything’ She ‘Needed to Know’ About Playing the Royal

While Erin Doherty knew nothing about Princess Anne when she got cast to play a younger version of the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in Season 3 of The Crown, the 27-year-old actress learned a great deal about Princess Anne aka the Princess Royal by imitating her voice. Keep reading to learn what Doherty discovered while trying to mimic Princess Anne’s voice ahead. 

Portraying a living person on-screen is difficult. It’s made even more challenging when their physical mannerisms such as their walk or talk are especially unique. Princess Anne has a low voice, something that proved to be a challenge for Doherty to mimic. As anyone who has watched Season 3 of The Crown will know — Nov. 17, 2019, the show’s newest episodes landed on Netflix — Doherty did eventually get the voice down. But not without some practice.

Erin Doherty used voice training to get in ‘headspace’ of Princess Anne

When Doherty, who had previously appeared in the BBC series, Call the Midwife, landed the part of Princess Anne, who is currently 14th in the line of succession to the throne — she didn’t know anything about the royal.

Erin Doherty at the premiere of 'The Crown' Season 3 on Nov. 13, 2019
Erin Doherty at the premiere of ‘The Crown’ Season 3 on Nov. 13, 2019 | Karwai Tang/WireImage

“I got off the phone with my agent and I was like, ‘I know The Crown, but who is this woman?’” Doherty told The Los Angeles Times during an interview published on Nov. 25, 2019.

Doherty studied up on Princess Anne but when it came time to portray her on-screen, the actress said getting her voice right proved to be an education in itself. For Doherty, what she had to do physically to make her voice deeper gave her insight about her character.   

“But basically, the way she suppresses her voice…it’s kind of this odd, low placement. I’d use that psychologically just to get into where she was at, the headspace she’s in as this princess who was born into this role,” she told Glamour in a Nov. 2019 interview. “She didn’t choose this way of life.”

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Doherty continued, saying, “It kind of set me up for everything I needed to know. Because that voice placement of pushing it down makes you feel really constricted and controlled, and you just want to break out of it.”

Her ‘body wanted to reject’ voice

When asked if her throat hurt after mimicking Princess Anne’s voice, Doherty said, “The first time I did, yeah.” But after some practice, she — and her vocal cords — got used to operating in a new way. 

“My voice obviously kind of became acclimatized to that placement. I think that’s probably just a part of voice training, but it took a while for it to settle,” Doherty said. “Now it’s fine.” 

Feeling comfortable using a speaking voice unlike her own took Doherty weeks.  

“But there was a process maybe for two weeks or something where it was just a bit…it was unhappy,” she said of her voice. The British actress then revealed how she’d practice her Princess Anne voice. 

“I would go to random places and order coffee in that voice. I would do anything I could in that voice to try and make it feel natural because it doesn’t,” she explained. “Everything about it my body wanted to reject [the voice], because it just doesn’t feel healthy or right.”We’re looking forward to seeing more of Doherty and Princess Anne in future episodes of The Crown. Season 4 is expected to debut in 2020 although no premiere date has been announced.