Princess Georgiana (Georgie), known as the spare to the British throne, has been making headlines with her party girl lifestyle and constant public scandals, causing concern for the future of the monarchy.
In an attempt to keep her away from the London limelight and simultaneously prevent Australia from leaving the Commonwealth, Georgie’s parents have made a bold decision. They have sent her off to Australia to assume the role of their Queen, accompanied by a new team of staff members including Director of Communications Zoe, Private Secretary Bernard, Head of Security Officer Marc, Personal Assistant Matthew, Lady-in-Waiting Anabel, and Master of the Household Weiwei.
Georgie’s first public appearance in Australia takes place during a welcome reception. Unfortunately, her jetlagged state leads to an offensive faux pas, turning the night from bad to worse.
We had the opportunity to speak with Catherine Tate, who portrays Princess Georgiana and is also one of the writers, executive producers, and co-creators of the show.
“I play Princess Georgiana, later to become Queen Georgiana, aka Georgie. I’m also one of the writers,” Tate explains with enthusiasm.
When asked about her role as an executive producer, Tate humorously remarks, “No one really knows what an executive producer does!”
The concept of Queen of Oz came from Canadian producer Borga Dorta, who approached Tate with an idea about a minor member of a fictional royal family becoming the Queen of Canada. Tate explains, “I really liked it, so we all worked up a treatment, went to Toronto, and pitched it to Canadian TV studios.”
During a coffee break in Toronto, Tate proposed a location change and a new title. “I think this might be better situated in Australia. Plus, ‘Queen of Oz’ is a much better title,” she suggested. And thus, the idea for Queen of Oz was born. While waiting for a response from the Canadians, Tate expresses the humour in the situation, saying, “To be fair, they did say they usually take a long time to say yes.”
Tate drew inspiration for the show from her own imagination and the process of building the world and characters. “We knew where we wanted to end, so we worked backward from there,” she explains.
Describing Georgie’s character, Tate states, “She’s a reluctant Queen. She thought she would spend her life attending parties and avoiding responsibilities. However, she gets a rude awakening when she is shipped off to Australia as their newly-crowned Queen. She’s difficult to work with, spoiled, entitled, and deeply unpleasant, which, of course, makes her a great character to play.”
Throughout the series, Georgie does evolve to some extent, but her core remains fun and anarchic. Tate adds, “When you’re playing someone like that, you don’t need people to love her or even like her. You just need them to laugh at her.”
Reflecting on her favorite scenes, Tate mentions the moments when laughter filled the set. One particularly memorable scene involved Will (Mathew) in the series finale, but she refrains from providing spoilers. Another scene, in which Tate’s character, Georgie, lays into Zoe about bullying, resulted in continuous laughter due to Tate’s decision to make up a song at the last minute. Even the final take, in which Tate got the words right, includes Jenna Owen laughing. Tate shares that she recorded it off the screen during editing and sent it to Owen, violating her contract, but both of them loved it.
Georgie’s attitude toward Australia is not initially positive due to past bullying experiences during her time at a boarding school in Canberra. However, Tate reveals that Georgie’s relationship with Australia evolves throughout the series, and they wanted to make Australia itself a character. Tate compares their dynamic to a romantic comedy, stating, “They start off hating each other, and in the end, she has to come to love it because she’s its Queen… She’s her Queen… Australia is female.”
Tate also delves into Georgie’s relationship with her brother Freddie, describing it as sibling rivalry that never left the nursery. They constantly tease and one-up each other, with Freddie being the golden child overshadowing Georgie. However, Tate emphasizes the underlying bond between them.
The show boasts an excellent ensemble cast from Australia, which Tate considers a stroke of luck. She praises the cast and crew as brilliant, friendly, welcoming, and magnificent individuals. Tate particularly cherishes the opportunity to work with her close friend Niky Wardley, who plays Anabel, Georgie’s Lady-in-Waiting.
Tate fondly shares, “We have a great friendship and met over 20 years ago in a play at the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) that, funnily enough, we went to Australia with. We’ve become great friends ever since, and I just love working with her. She’s just brilliant, and I really trust her judgment. We’re on the same wavelength, and there’s a kind of shorthand that we’ve always had.”
When Tate first saw the location for the Australian Palace, known as Macquarie House in the show, she was awe-struck. The lavish setting made her feel like she was filming “The Crown.” Tate believes the historic gem in the heart of Sydney works fantastically on screen.
The entire series was filmed in Australia, as Tate believes it would look odd to be elsewhere when it’s supposed to be Australia.
Regarding her time spent in Australia, Tate expresses her love for being there and the opportunity to meet wonderful people. She also admits missing the acai bowls, a popular food item.
Tate had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty The Queen after the Royal Variety Show. She describes the experience, saying, “She was very gracious and engaged, no mean feat when you think of how many of us she had to meet.”
By the end of the series, Tate believes Georgie will find comfort in the country she was dragged to reluctantly. It represents a new start for her, even though she initially dislikes it. Tate suggests that Georgie’s imperfections, blunders, and breaking of royal protocols might lead to a mutual acceptance between her and Australia. However, with the rising tide of Republicanism, Georgie would face challenges. Nevertheless, Tate concludes, “She needs Australia now!”