Exclusive pictures of Emma Corrin in amateur production at Cambridge

Emma Corrin gazes from beneath a familiar fringe in exclusive pictures of The Crown’s Princess Diana in amateur production at Cambridge University

Treading the boards in an amateur production at Cambridge University, she could hardly be further from a starring role in Netflix’s big-budget Royal drama The Crown.

But there’s something about Emma Corrin’s nervous gaze from under a heavy-set fringe that marks her out as the ideal choice to play a young Diana Spencer in the latest series.

This exclusive picture was taken three years ago, as Ms Corrin rehearsed for a play at the top university.

Next Sunday, she will be watched by millions around the world as The Crown, which also features Olivia Colman as the Queen, moves on to the 1980s.

SHOWING POTENTIAL: Emma Corrin in a university production at Cambridge University three years ago

Ms Corrin, 24, will portray Lady Di through her engagement and ill-fated marriage to the Prince of Wales, played by Josh O’Connor.

‘There are parallels between Diana being plucked from obscurity and my situation,’ she said recently.

‘I remember I was with Ben Caron, one of [The Crown] directors, when I was offered the part.

‘He said that any time I was photographed or interviewed or felt nervous or exposed, use it because it’s exactly what she would have been feeling. That was massively helpful.’

Diana became known for defying Royal protocol, but even she might have raised an eyebrow at some of Ms Corrin’s unusual views and interests.

She recently boasted to Vogue magazine about keeping a sex toy in her handbag for when she’s ‘stressed and needs to unwind’, and she follows a group called the East London Strippers Collective on Instagram.

This radical streak is out of keeping with her conventional and posh upbringing, however.

She grew up with her younger brothers Richard and Jonty in a £2.5 million detached house with a swimming pool in the Kent village of Seal, near Sevenoaks. Her father Chris is a businessman and her mother Juliette is a speech therapist.

Ms Corrin was educated at Woldingham, a £36,000-a-year Roman Catholic independent school for girls in Surrey. Great Gatsby star Carey Mulligan is another former pupil.

Ms Corrin, 24, will portray Lady Di through her engagement and ill-fated marriage to the Prince of Wales in the new, fourth series of The Crown

Ms Corrin took part in numerous drama productions in her time at the school and her former drama teacher, Lynn Mann, recalls how the youngster ‘stood out as an outstanding talent’ ever since she first joined the school.

‘As a drama scholar, she was a great role model, exemplary in inspiring other students, and her success is totally deserved,’ she said.

She took a Shakespeare course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art during a gap year, then worked as a volunteer teacher at a school in South Africa before taking up a place at St John’s College, Cambridge, reading education with English and drama.

At university, she joined the Marlowe Society, a drama group whose former members include Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Emma Thompson. 

Since graduating, Ms Corrin has landed just a handful of parts. 

She appeared in an episode of ITV’s 1950s detective drama Grantchester and in a short film called Alex’s Dream.

She has also appeared in Misbehaviour, a film about the protest against the 1970 Miss World contest that starred Keeley Hawes and Keira Knightley, and the US TV crime drama series Pennyworth. 

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