The benefit of a series like “Downton Abbey” is to have so much history to choose from and interact with at the start of the 20th century. When it came time to come up with ideas for “The Motion Picture,” Julian Fellowes looked to the past. The first feature sees the folks at Downton scrambling to make way for a royal visit from King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James).
According to Town & Country, the idea came to Fellowes after reading about the history of the royal couple. In 1912, they visited Wentworth Woodhouse, which is primarily known as the UK’s largest private residence. “I wanted something that would affect both the family and the servants,” said Fellowes. I have zero interest in the royal family, but I understand why he would see their magnificent presence affecting the folks at Downton, especially Kevin Doyle’s hyper anxious Mr. Molesley.
It’s worth mentioning that King George V and Queen Mary later had actually visited Highclere Castle over five years later in 1917. It’s easy to see why Fellowes opted to choose a different visit, considering their appearance at the estate was around the period in which it was transformed into a makeshift hospital during World War I. If anything, I’m surprised the series never leapt at the opportunity to include that in its second season.