In the third season of The Crown, Josh O’Connor steps in as grown-up Prince Charles. O’Connor gives a wonderful performance, capturing Charles’s awkwardness and latent vindictiveness, all while cultivating audience sympathy for Charles’s uneasy position in the family and spiky relationship with his mother. (Honestly, The Crown is so sympathetic to Charles, and O’Connor’s performance is so good, I wonder if some of the sympathy for the fictional Prince Charles will rub off on the real Prince Charles.) And throughout it all, O’Connor plays Charles with a series of hangdog faces so sad and lonely I half expect “The Sound of Silence” to start playing every time Charles appears on screen. So let’s put on the Simon & Garfunkel and take a look back at Prince Charles’s most hangdog faces.
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
This is the default Prince Charles Face. He looks like he’s just been caught sneaking out to play with his imaginary friend in the secret garden. He can’t even stand up straight under the weight of his own disappointment, and all he really wants is to go back to the well.
“I am very saddened by this strange half-life, in which I must await my mother’s death in order to truly live. No one can truly understand my pain, to have everything and yet, to also have nothing. I would also like to apologize for my mum’s hat, I know that is making a very great many of you sad, as well as me, and all of history. Wales and England are united in a common cause, as we are all completely baffled by Mum’s cap. I don’t know what she was thinking, but no one ever asks for my opinion anyway. I am just a sad prince, all alone, on this stage surrounded by people.”
Here is Prince Charles saddened by his royal regalia, and the tremendous burden of wild privilege. Charles never looks comfortable all dolled up for Windsor family events, where he defaults to this kind of pinched, po-faced ennui. This is the face of a man who really needs a hobby.
There is nothing more desolate than a sad man in tweed.
Prince Charles’s saddest face, upon having his heart broken by/because of Camilla Shand. This scene is actually very effective, thanks entirely to Josh O’Connor’s palpable pain, and our own awareness of how this moment will shape so many royal events over the next two decades. This is, after all, the face of a man about to make a historically reckless rebound decision.