Downton Abbey Christmas special: royalty, scandal and moral dilemmas

The Crawleys are set to rub shoulders with royalty in the feature-length Christmas Day episode, which will see the characters staying at the family's London residence

It’s one of the highlights of the Christmas TV schedule – millions of us will settle down at 8:30pm on Christmas Day to watch it. And this year the Downton Abbey Christmas special looks set to be a corker, as the Crawleys get caught up in a royal scandal. 


Yes, you read that right. Robert, Cora, Mary and co are set to rub shoulders with the monarchy this Yuletide. But by the sounds of things, their brush with the inhabitants of Buckingham Palace doesn’t go too well…

We’ll be catching up with the Crawley’s six months after we saw them last at their rather lovely church bazaar. It may be winter here but in Downtonland it’s the summer season and everyone, upstairs and down, is at Grantham House, the family’s London residence. Lady Rose is finally being presented to society, and as part of her “coming out” the family are going to Buckingham Palace to meet the King and Queen. Fancy! 

But the meeting doesn’t go smoothly (does anything ever in Downton?) and soon “the Crawleys are implicated in a scandal that threatens to engulf the monarchy”. Sounds juicy, right?

To add to the drama, the American relations Martha Levinson (played by Shirley MacLaine) and “playboy” Harold (played by Paul Giamatti) have travelled over to be part of the social programme. And apparently they “make quite an impression” in London’s high society. Sounds a little ominous if you ask us…

Meanwhile, Edith, who at the end of series four was planning on heading off to Switzerland with Aunt Rosamund to have Gregson’s illegitimate baby, is still “wrestling with a moral dilemma”. Isobel has found herself “an admirer”, Daisy gets “an unexpected invitation” and Carson is obviously in a good mood as the Butler decides to treat the staff to a “special day out.” 

Plus it seems the matter of Lady Mary’s love life is still up in the air. Lord Gillingham and Charles Blake are both set to make an appearance, as is Branson’s potential partner Sarah Bunting.

Other familiar faces include gambler Terence Sampson (played by Patrick Kennedy) and the new pig man Tim Drewe.

When it comes to Downton newbies, get ready to welcome James Fox, who makes an appearance as Lord Aysgarth, Poppy Drayton, who plays his daughter Madeline, Oliver Dimsdale as the Prince of Wales, Michael Benz as Harold’s valet Ethan, Guy Williams as King George V and Janet Montgomery. 

Downton Abbey’s Christmas special will air on Christmas Day at 8:30pm on ITV