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“The Crown”'s Kate Middleton and Prince William Feel 'Responsibility' and 'Pressure' of Roles (Exclusive)

Meg Bellamy and Ed McVey tell PEOPLE about portraying the future Prince and Princess of Wales

<p>Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p> Meg Bellamy and Ed McVey at the Los Angeles premiere of The Crown season 6, part 1 on Netflix in Los Angeles on Nov. 12.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Meg Bellamy and Ed McVey at the Los Angeles premiere of The Crown season 6, part 1 on Netflix in Los Angeles on Nov. 12.

Meg Bellamy and Ed McVey are preparing for the crowning moment of their careers with season 6 of The Crown.

The newcomers, who star as a college-aged Kate Middleton and Prince William in the final season of Netflix’s hit drama, open up to PEOPLE about their royal roles ahead of the show’s part 2 premiere on Dec. 14.

The actors, who both count The Crown as their official screen debuts (McVey, 24, recently graduated from drama school and Bellamy, 21, worked at Legoland), tell PEOPLE they felt the weight of portraying characters that take the show as close as it will get to the present day. Part 1 of season 6 debuted on Nov. 16 and focused on Princess Diana’s final summer before her tragic death in Paris in August 1997. Part 2 will pick up after the tragedy and portray Prince William and Prince Harry (Luther Ford) navigating the next chapter of their lives, including William’s budding romance with the future Princess Kate at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland.

<p>Justin Downing/Netflix</p> Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy in character as Kate Middleton and Prince William in art released by Netflix in April.

Justin Downing/Netflix

Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy in character as Kate Middleton and Prince William in art released by Netflix in April.

Related: Dominic West Says He Stopped Son Senan from Acting in The Crown Season 6 Because of Key Scene

“As actors [we’re] taking it very seriously because we are playing real people. But also what Peter [Morgan] wrote was, for me, it was very easy to connect to. I just felt a lot of truth in what he was writing. Just about the psychology of people, not necessarily about the royal family,” McVey tells PEOPLE of his take on the script. “And using it as more of a conduit for human emotions and families.”

While the cast of The Crown has changed every two seasons to reflect the royals aging through the decades of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Bellamy is uniquely poised to play the only Kate. The Prince William role previously passed from Timothée Sambor to Senan West in season 5, before moving to Rufus Kampa in part 1 of season 6 and finally, McVey.

<p>Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty</p> Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy film The Crown at St Andrews, Scotland in March 2023.

Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty

Ed McVey and Meg Bellamy film The Crown at St Andrews, Scotland in March 2023.

When it comes to portraying the future Princess of Wales, Bellamy tells PEOPLE she felt the "responsibility" and "pressure."

“Obviously, they're real people, so there's a lot of research out there. But it can just be noise a lot of the time because you don't know what's true and you have to take everything with a pinch of salt," she says. "It’s very nice to strip that back and just have the script and that interpretation and have conversations with the directors and the people that you are producing this show with. That was a good element to the research.”

Related: Farewell to The Crown — Get an Inside Look at the Final Season in PEOPLE's New Royal Christmas Issue

<p>Robin L Marshall/WireImage</p> Ed McVey, Meg Bellamy and Luther Ford at the Los Angeles premiere of The Crown season 6, part 1 on Netflix in Los Angeles on Nov. 12.

Robin L Marshall/WireImage

Ed McVey, Meg Bellamy and Luther Ford at the Los Angeles premiere of The Crown season 6, part 1 on Netflix in Los Angeles on Nov. 12.

Speaking to PEOPLE alongside Bellamy and McVey, Luther Ford, who portrays Prince Harry, cited a surprise factor as an advantage: their age.

“Obviously, it is close to the present, but the fact that we didn't live through it means that there is a kind of natural distance for us. Someone older would feel that that was very familiar,” Ford says.

The series concludes around 2005 — the wedding year of King Charles and Queen Camilla.

Despite the intensity of the subject matter, there was also time for levity on set. McVey cites an air hockey competition with Jonathan Pryce, who plays Prince Philip, as a favorite behind-the-scenes memory — and says the star, who received a knighthood for his services to drama and charity in Queen Elizabeth's Birthday Honours List in 2021, won.

“Wouldn’t want him to make it easy on me, but he was very good,” McVey jokes.

<p>Phillip Faraone/Getty Images</p> Khalid Abdalla, Fflyn Edwards, Elizabeth Debicki, Rufus Kampa, Luther Ford, Ed McVey, Meg Bellamy, and Jonathan Pryce at the Los Angeles premiere of The Crown season 6, part 1 on Netflix in Los Angeles on Nov. 12.

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Khalid Abdalla, Fflyn Edwards, Elizabeth Debicki, Rufus Kampa, Luther Ford, Ed McVey, Meg Bellamy, and Jonathan Pryce at the Los Angeles premiere of The Crown season 6, part 1 on Netflix in Los Angeles on Nov. 12.

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Bellamy tells PEOPLE it was an honor to participate in The Crown's final bow. The decorated drama has received 27 BAFTA nominations and won 21 Emmy Awards, among other nods, since it hit queues six years ago.

“It's lovely in many ways. I think something that was surprisingly nice for me was you're coming in at the end and it's such an immense privilege, but you are such a small part of this huge puzzle,” Bellamy tells PEOPLE.

“What was really special for me was watching the producers and people that have been on this for 10 years wrap up their baby, essentially, and say goodbye to people and characters that they have worked on. And it's really moving and very rewarding if they kind of like what you're doing as well," she says.

Part 1 of season 6 of The Crown is now streaming on Netflix, and the countdown continues to the part 2 debut on Thursday, Dec. 14.

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Read the original article on People.