Leave it to E! to turn the British monarchy into an international version of the Kardashians.
The cable network’s first original drama, “The Royals,” envisions a world where the Queen of England, Helena, is portrayed by the glamorous Elizabeth Hurley and the royal offsprings have the morals of gutter snipes.
Hurley says it could happen.
“I thought to myself when I got offered this part, what would it have been like if Princess Diana had become Queen of England. Because I felt she was someone we could identify with more because she’s a more similar age group and then her kids would be about the age of these kids now,” Hurley says. “And so I sort of took some inspiration from her, knowing how she dressed, how she spoke. Everything that we saw for the public stepping out of cars, raising money, making speeches.
“What we never got to see with Princess Diana really was behind those closed doors. All of that, I made up myself.”
Hurley went so far as to throw a little Cruella de Vil from Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” into the mix. She can also draw on her own personal experiences, having met members of the royal family at various social events. She’s a big fan of Prince Charles having worked with him through one of the charities she supports.
She recalls how well members of the Royal Family handle themselves in social situations. She believes that in many ways they are good actors because they always come across so polished and poised.
“I know it’s their job, but they are master diplomats. They’re just unbelievable, and that’s something that I think my character really, really wants her children to be like that,” Hurley says. “She wants Princess Eleanor, she wants Prince William, to just be fabulous and wonderful examples to the world.
“And, of course, in her opinion, they fail her miserably all the time.”
The British actress grew up dreaming of what it would like to be a princess. Her earliest memories of acting were pretending that she was some kind of royalty. She went so far as to make her little brother act as her page walking behind her carrying packages.
“I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I would be a very good queen. So, obviously, when this came, it was a slam dunk,” Hurley says.
It looked like the 49-year-old actress was headed toward a dance career when she was younger, but, as a teen, she became more interested in fashion and would eventually become an Estee Lauder model.
Her acting career started in the late-1980s with movies like “Bedazzled,” “Serving Sara” and “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.” She also appeared in a variety of TV programs, including a guest starring role in NBC’s failed attempt to launch a “Wonder Woman” series.
Now she’s starring in the E! series that also features Vincent Regan as King Simon, along with William Moseley (Prince Liam) and Alexandra Park (Princess Eleanor). The ensemble cast includes Merritt Patterson, Jake Maskall, Ukweli Roach, Tom Austen, Sophie Colquhoun and Oliver Milburn.
Don’t try to figure out from which limb of the British monarchy family tree Queen Helena and her clan come. Series creator Mark Schwahn discouraged the writers from trying to make anything about the series legitimate.
“I just wanted to create a world that is entirely fictional. What’s compelling to me were the stakes for the family. So we call it the house of Henstrich, so that’s our family name,” Schwahn says, “And beyond that, we’ve done a little bit of work. When the guys come to me and ask me those things, I’ll usually find an answer for them. But it’s just a fictional family. It just happens to be in a real world.”