Arts & Culture

The Royal Family's Many Connections to Downton Abbey

The upcoming film centers around a royal visit, but the period drama's connections to Queen Elizabeth's family go much deeper than that.
IMAGE CHRIS JACKSON / GETTY IMAGES
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Details about the upcoming Downton Abbey movie are being kept hush-hush ahead of its September 20 premiere, but fans of the popular period drama do know that the film centers around a royal visit.

King George V and Queen Mary are coming to stay with the Crawleys, and the preparations for their arrival are what set the plot in motion. But this storyline is hardly the only royal connection to Downton. Here, all the ways the show is connected to Queen Elizabeth's family.

KING GEORGE V AND QUEEN MARY DID, IN ACTUALITY, VISIT HIGHCLERE CASTLE, THE REAL-LIFE ESTATE WHICH SERVES AS DOWNTON ABBEY ON-SCREEN.

While Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has shared that the film was directly inspired by a 1912 royal visit to Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire, George V and his wife Queen Mary also spent time at Highclere Castle in 1917. Lady Carnarvon, whose husband's family owns Highclere, showcased the royals' signatures in the home's guest book in a recent blog post.

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WILL AND KATE ARE BIG FANS, AND SO IS THE QUEEN.

In a video released before Downton Abbey's final TV episode, a number of famous fans paid tribute to the series, from Anthony Hopkins to P. Diddy. Prince William started off the celebrity portion of the clip, sharing that Downton is "one of Catherine's and my favorite programs."

"I’m delighted that we are paying tribute to this extraordinary series that has flown the flag for British drama both at home and internationally," he said.

Watch that footage below. (Prince William comes in around the 5-minute mark):

He must be at least a little jealous of his wife Kate, who got to visit the set in 2015 to much excitement from the cast and crew.

"It was lovely," Laura Carmichael, who plays Edith, said of meeting the Duchess. "She's so normal. I know everyone says that but she really does try to make everyone feel at ease."

For her part, the Queen reportedly "loves" watching Downton Abbey, perhaps because she feels a special affinity for Highclere Castle. She is the 8th Earl of Carnarvon's godmother, and has visited the estate several times.

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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip take in a cricket match at Highclere Castle in August of 1958
Photo by VICTOR BLACKMAN / GETTY IMAGES.

SPEAKING OF GODPARENTS, HARRY HADDEN-PATTEN (FANS WILL RECOGNIZE HIM AS EDITH'S HUSBAND, BERTIE PELHAM, THE NEW MARQUESS OF HEXHAM) IS SARAH FERGUSON'S GODSON.

She even tweeted him a congratulatory note back in 2018, when he was nominated for a Tony for his role in My Fair Lady.


AND THE FILM'S HISTORICAL ADVISOR, ALASTAIR BRUCE, IS PRINCE EDWARD'S EQUERRY.

Bruce, who worked on all six seasons of the show, joined the production of the film to ensure everything from the movie's plot points to the actors' mannerisms was historically accurate. His familiarity with the royal family undoubtedly helped him to advise on matters relating to the King and Queen in the film; he is currently Prince Edward's equerry (which is a type of personal assistant or attendant) and serves as a godfather to Edward's son, James Viscount Severn.

In 2017, he also spoke with the Queen in a rare on-camera interview for a documentary about her coronation.

The 'Downton Abbey' film hits theaters on September 25, 2019 in the Philippines.

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER BELOW:

*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

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*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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