The plot of Downton Abbey has been much publicised – with King George V and Queen Mary preparing to descend upon the house. The Crawley and their maids, footmen, cooks and other servants must put on the best show they possible can. And it seems producers of Downton Abbey turned to some royal experts for advice on how this would have been achieved.
How The Queen’s butler advised on Downton Abbey
Kevin Doyle, who plays Moseley in Downton Abbey, has revealed they needed the help of royal experts when their historical adviser, Alistair Bruce, was not on set.
In order to make sure they got royal etiquette completely correct, the group turned to butters from Buckingham Palace, who wait on Queen Elizabeth II herself, to help them.
Kevin told the Evening Standard: “They were great. Alistair Bruce, who is the historical adviser on this, he has the bible really in terms of etiquette and how people behaved.
“Throughout the TV show he was always there for us – any questions we had he was always there to answer.
“But there were a couple of days which he was not available, so he sent a couple of his friends, who happened to be part of the Royal household – it was amazing.
“They were able to help us specifically with how a King and Queen are treated differently to normal members of the aristocracy – they were terribly helpful.”
Despite any attempts to get the butlers to tell all on the Royal Family, they refused to be drawn, with Kevin confirming they were “very discreet” about saying too much.
The actors were called back after a three year gap from the TV series to make the film, with the series ending in 2015.
The film has been supposedly in the works for some time, with people suggesting or seeming to confirm the new film since 2012.
But fans will not have much more to wait as Downton Abbey hits cinemas on September 13.
Which royals visit Downton Abbey in the film?
According to writer Julian Fellowes, he needed “a central story strand that would bind everyone together—that would affect the characters upstairs and downstairs and in the village” for the feature film.
And he happened to be reading about an actual trip King George took with his wife in 1912, where they visited Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire.
The royals met miners and pit-workers and toured towns alongside eating decadent 13-course dinners with fancy desserts.
One rumour even suggests the desserts were served in sugar baskets which took three days to weave – as chronicled in Catherine Bailey’s book Black Diamonds (2007).
He told Vanity Fair: “Downton is also in Yorkshire, and so it seemed to me quite a good parallel, that the servants and the family would be equally as excited about.
“In a film, every story has to be resolved within that film, and you want a unifying bond in a film—so it isn’t too scattered in its focus.
“That’s what the royal visit has provided us—an event that involves everyone in the house.
“And they all have different responses and different duties, but they’re all in that sense working towards the same end, which is that the visit should be a success. So we feel that being played out.”
Historically, King George and Queen Mary stayed at Wentworth Woodhouse for four days, between July 8 and 12, 1912.
There were also a huge number of other dignitaries who joined them, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, 10th Earl of Scarborough and his wife, politician Walter Long, alongside plenty of peers and aristocrats.
The visit also included a torchlight tattoo by the miners, where a crowd of 25,000 gathered to see the royals on the balcony, and where George V gave a speech.
Downton Abbey is released in cinemas on September 13