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Scandals of secret love at the palace.

IT'S a right Royal Christmas on ITV1, which has produced two new dramas about scandalous relationships.

Wallis And Edward is screened on Sunday, followed by Whatever Love Means on Wednesday next week.

The first of the one-off dramas aims to shed new light on the shocking love affair between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, which led to the King's abdication. They are played by Joely Richardson and Stephen Campbell Moore.

Joely had to undergo a physical transformation to play the American divorcee, turning her blonde locks dark and losing weight.

'I'm about a foot too tall for Wallis, so I had to slim to compensate for the height,' says the British star of Nip/Tuck who is based in Los Angeles.

'She was known to be very thin. It was difficult because I had just given up smoking, but I watched what I ate.

'I loved the hair and make-up - it was like putting on a mask for me. She wore couture clothes, cut neatly in a very small size. We have copied all her key outfits and, thank God, she was flat-chested. It was the first time in my life that the producer wasn't asking me to wear a padded bra!

'I am a romantic and I think this is just a great love story. Edward gave up everything for the woman he loved, but as a result Wallis was demonised. All the press articles were vile, asking how the King could possibly fall for this woman. We are told how witchlike she was, but we don't know what she was really like.'

Another couple whose love has caused ructions are Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Whatever Love Means is the title of the second film, and what Charles said when he was interviewed at his engagement to Diana. When asked 'Are you in love?', Diana said 'Oh yes!' and Charles added 'Whatever 'in love' means'.

The drama follows his passionate relationship with Camilla, from the moment they met at a polo match in 1971 until his wedding to Diana a decade later. Colditz star Laurence Fox follows in the family footsteps by playing Charles - he's the son of James Fox and nephew of Edward, who famously portrayed Edward VIII.

And Laurence is a fan of the Royals, so he was keen not to show them in too much of a bad light.

'I don't put a moral judgement on their situation because love is love at the end of the day. It can cause a lot of pain and a lot of happiness at the same time,' he says.

'I think Charles and Camilla will probably think what I would if someone made a drama of my life. I'd think 'What absolute weirdos - that's not me at all'.

'I met the Queen once when she came to RADA to watch a play we were putting on. I was very excited and fell over a prop. She came up to me after and said 'Did you mean to trip over?' and I said no.

'I have an enormous amount of sympathy for anyone who is under incredible public scrutiny, and I couldn't think of someone with more dignity than her. She's a great girl and I really like her.

'How can anybody not be a Royalist? Look at everyone standing outside Buckingham Palace - how can you not be proud of it?'

Laurence's profile is set to rise next year with the arrival of Lewis, the Inspector Morse spin-off drama starring Kevin Whately. While Lewis was Morse's sidekick, now Laurence plays Lewis's sidekick, DS James Hathaway.

CAPTION(S):

SHOCKING: Wallis and Edward and, below, Charles and Diana
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2005
Words:607
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