From Legoland to ‘The Crown’: Meg Bellamy, the unknown actress who plays Kate Middleton

At the age of 21, she made her debut as the Princess of Wales in the Netflix series. Overnight, luxury brands such as Dior and Valentino started vying for the industry’s next big thing

The Crown Meg Bellamy
Meg Bellamy at the premiere of ‘The Crown’ Finale Celebration in London.Gareth Cattermole (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

A red brick. That was the only role Meg Bellamy had played before stepping into the shoes of one of the most famous women on the face of the planet. This British actress was working at the Legoland amusement park in Windsor, where the official residence of the British royal family is also located, when she came across a casting call on Twitter for the final season of The Crown, one of the century’s most watched and celebrated shows. Unmotivated after being rejected by several acting schools, she didn’t even have an agent to guide her first steps in the industry in 2022. It was only her neighbor’s persistence in insisting on her obvious physical resemblance to the princess that made Bellamy decide to send in a video to try out for the role of Kate Middleton. Three weeks later, they responded to her email, and she began a months-long testing process in which thousands of other candidates were aspiring to win an opportunity that has catapulted other young unknowns like Emma Corrin to international fame. Against all odds—she was competing with other more established and popular names—Bellamy managed to win the role. Brick by brick, that’s how you build a star.

Meg Bellamy in a scene from ‘The Crown.’
Meg Bellamy in a scene from ‘The Crown.’ Jeff J Mitchell (Getty Images)

On December 14, The Crown’s final six episodes will be released on Netflix. The series’ last episodes will address Lady Di’s death and the romance between William (played by Ed McVey) and Kate Middleton as the key events in a denouement that will jump several years in time. Paradoxically, the end of the 21-time Emmy Award-winning show is the beginning for Meg Bellamy, who has spent the last few months trying to prepare for the media tsunami that will soon wash away her anonymity. “I can’t even imagine the level of pressure that royals face every day. I hadn’t been to Hollywood until a month ago, and now I’m there, with people screaming my name on the red carpet. But I keep telling myself that this is what I’ve always dreamed of, that before I could only afford to wear Primark,” she told The New York Times.

The 21-year-old actress has confessed that the biggest culture shock she has experienced in recent months has not been filming in the company of renowned figures such as Imelda Staunton (Queen Elizabeth) and Dominic West (Prince Charles), but the close and intense relationship between her profession and the world of fashion. Valentino, Dior (she has sat in the front row for their last two fashion shows), Cartier, Gucci... offers for her to join forces with the best luxury brands are proliferating. After all, given the impossibility of having the Princess of Wales serve as a brand ambassador, what’s better than having her fictional alter ego to sell handbags? “Now I’m lucky enough to wear brands that I would never have dreamed of wearing,” the British actress confessed in an interview. Until now, she described her looks as more typical of “a grandfather” because of her penchant for high-waisted pants and wide sweaters.

Meg Bellamy as college student Kate Middleton.
Meg Bellamy as college student Kate Middleton.Jeff J Mitchell (Getty Images)

Everything has changed in just a few days. Bellamy was already one of the most photographed guests at the recent Fashion Awards. Overseeing her transformation into a red-carpet star is stylist Felicity Kay, the person responsible for turning actors like Kit Connor (Headstopper), Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education) and Paul Mescal (Normal People) into generational obsessions. Assessing the extent to which the industry’s machinery is fine-tuning the careers of its promising youth, The Telegraph reported that the actress’s advisors are already planning a new haircut for her once the show’s promotional tour is over. It is the first step to separating herself from a role with so much media coverage and thus following in the footsteps of others such as Emma Watson (Harry Potter), Phoebe Dynevor (Bridgerton) or the aforementioned Emma Corrin, who plays Lady Di on the show. A flurry of news on entertainment and fashion websites hailing Bellamy as the new it-girl of 2024 are just a few days—and a visit to the hairdresser—away.

Actors Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy in a scene from 'The Crown.'
Actors Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy in a scene from 'The Crown.'Andrew Milligan - PA Images (PA Images via Getty Images)

“She was great from the first reading; we knew we had stumbled upon something special from the start. She’s brilliant, very charismatic and a very good actress,” says Robert Sterne, the casting director for The Crown. Bellamy engaged in a long process of preparing for the role; for months, she practiced with different voice and movement coaches to get Middleton’s accent and gestures right. She voraciously consumed books, documentaries and all kinds of news about the princess, and even took home several costume pieces to put herself in Middleton’s shoes while rehearsing the dialogue. The job was very difficult; prior to officially announcing her engagement to Prince William in October 2010, Middleton’s life was a “blank slate.” There is hardly any information about Kate as an art history student at the University of St. Andrews, so Bellamy spent “a lot of time thinking about what she was like before she knew where her life was headed, and that William would be her husband.” The actress adds that “I hope I’ve done her justice.” Bellamy doesn’t have any more projects lined up in the near future.

Despite the two decades that separate them, there are several parallels between Bellamy and Middleton beyond their iconic brown hair. Both grew up in the same county in England and were good students and athletes. They also both dabbled in the world of student theater—the Princess of Wales played the character of Eliza Doolitle in a production of My Fair Lady. Another moment that the new episodes will depict is the university charity fashion show that took place in 2002, in which Kate Middleton served as a model and wore a transparent dress. Almost a decade later, the dress was auctioned for $125,000, and, according to those present, it was the first thing that made the prince turn his head and look at the woman who ended up being his (and the UK’s) princess. Let’s see if Meg Bellamy also manages to capture their attention.

 Meg Bellamy at the 2023 GQ Men Of the Year Awards party in London.
Meg Bellamy at the 2023 GQ Men Of the Year Awards party in London.Gareth Cattermole (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

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