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The Crown's Josh O'Connor explains how the spotlight was "probably damaging" to Prince Charles as a young man

Everything was being watched and there was a keener interest in the royals

By TV Week team
Fans of The Crown would find it impossible to forget the more emotionally crushing scenes featuring a young Prince Charles.
In season two, viewers were taken on a deep-dive into Charles and his father Philip's complex relationship, as well as the heir-to-the-throne's devastating struggles at Gordonstoun, a remote school in north-east Scotland, where the future king of England was lonely and bullied relentlessly.
After the third season's time jump, actor Josh O'Connor takes over as Charles. And to know what comes next for Charles, it's important not to forget where he's been.
"He's had a difficult time at school, but ultimately, he's the future king of England," Josh, 29, says. "And what that means is he's got this philosophical question that's constantly in his head in order for him to have meaning in his life; it inadvertently requires his mother to die.
"What that does to the psyche of a man is quite extraordinary."
Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles in The Crown. Image: Alamy
An interesting shift in Charles' character throughout the third season is the impact of the media on his family's lives.
"Everything was being watched and there was a keener interest in the royals," Josh says. "It took a new form, which was the idea of celebrity."
Accounts reveal that, as children, Charles and his sister Anne were fairly protected from the media. But as time went on, things began to change.
"[Suddenly] everything is in the spotlight," he says. "And what that does to a young man is probably damaging."
Josh O'Connor in The Crown. Image: Netflix
As regular viewers and history buffs know, Charles and his father were like chalk and cheese as young men. While an athletic, confident Philip shone during his school years at the gruelling Gordonstoun, the more sensitive and artistic Charles, known for his interest in painting, loathed it.
In fact, if circumstances had been different, Josh reveals Charles "said as a young man that he would love to have been an actor".
"And he's a keen theatre-goer," Josh adds. "He came to see a play that I did at the RSC [Royal Shakespeare Company]. He has a huge fondness for the theatre."
After learning more about Charles, Josh couldn't help but linger on this fact as he developed his character.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, head boy of the school in 1967. Image: Getty
"As an actor, it's exciting to wonder, 'Why was he interested in being an actor?' And why wasn't Anne?'" he says. "Maybe that's this thing of wanting someone to look at him – to take the time to actually look at him on stage.
"Maybe that's something to do with the fact that he's [been] in the shadow of his mother his entire life, kind of "the king in waiting", and what that means to a young man. So I like to think there's a link to the acting there."
Josh pauses, then adds: "There may well not be, but for my character there is."
WATCH: See a sneak peek of The Crown season three. Story continues below...
Josh O'Connor films The Crown. Image: Netflix
Like other cast members; Josh was blown away by the archival footage available to help prepare for the role.
"Also, there's a wealth of researchers, and the team on this show is extraordinary," he enthuses. "There are about 30 people at any one time who you can tap into and they'll send you videos and information.
"You feel like the luckiest actors in the world, because you just have to pick up a phone and they send you all this stuff. It's great!"
Want more exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes access to Netflix's The Crown? Pick up your copy of the new collector's edition of TV WEEK Close Up, on sale now.

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