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Meeting Her Majesty

Behind the palace walls with The Royals star Alexandra Park

Someone hide the corgis, because according to The Royals, the first scripted series from E!, premiering March 15, Buckingham Palace is going to hell in a handbasket. The series opens on a royal family under the rule of a queen played by Elizabeth Hurley and under the intense scrutiny of a public that’s not as enamored of the monarchy as it once was. 

One of series’ most compelling performances comes from Alexandra Park, who plays international bad girl Princess Eleanor, a stumbling collection of sequins and eyeliner who seems more rehab than regal. Here, Park explains why Eleanor isn’t all bad and what role she herself would want in the royal family.

How is it an Australian actress ends up playing a British princess?

I was living in Sydney when I first heard about The Royals. I made a tape in Sydney in my kitchen, and I didn’t think I would have a chance at getting this role, which is how all actors feel when they really love a role. I moved over to Los Angeles a couple of months after that, and still haven’t heard anything about my tape, but I went in for a completely different pilot and it was being cast by the same lady who was casting The Royals. She saw me come in for a role that I was completely wrong for but picked up that I would be right for Princess Eleanor.

What made the role so appealing?

I think that as an actor, we’re in a really tough industry. We get sent scripts and the competition is so fierce and exhausting. But sometimes we get characters, and we think, I can do funny, I can do vulnerable, I can do powerful. And this was a character I could see parts of myself in—add the fact that she’s a princess of England on Mark Schwahn’s new show and that I would be playing Elizabeth Hurley’s daughter and a lot of it excited me. I would have given my right arm to play Eleanor.

Prince Harry is a bit of a wild child, but we haven’t seen a princess like that in a while. Did you base Eleanor on any real royals?

I didn’t base Eleanor on an actual real-life princess at all. My inspiration came from a collection of brilliant women across the world, but nobody specific.

In the first episode, we meet Eleanor as a globetrotting party girl. Is there anything more to her? 

Over the course of the season, Eleanor changes a great deal. When something happens that means she needs to get her shit together, she’ll try as hard as she can. This girl has a heart of gold and she wants to do right by her father, her brother and all the people she opens up to.

What is it about monarchies that still have people fascinated?

I think the fascination behind royalty and the royal family is that the concept is so historical. It’s also a nice escape or fantasy to have, since nobody knows what goes on within the real royal family.

If you were to be a real princess, what would you choose as your kingdom?

I would pass. I love to play the princess, and to play part of the royal family, but I wouldn’t want to be in the actual royal family.