Exclusive: Downton Abbey star Lesley Nicol reveals surprising royal family connection

"Camilla's nice, she and I are on the same charity together, Medical Detection Dogs, and I've met her a couple of times and she's really lovely so I'd love her to come over."

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Downton Abbey star Lesley Nicol has revealed her own surprising royal connection – she knows the Duchess of Cornwall! The 66-year-old actress, who played cook Mrs Patmore in the original series and will reprise her role in the upcoming movie version, spoke to HELLO! on the red carpet at the movie’s glitzy London premiere in Leicester Square on Monday. Speaking of which member of the royal family she would like to have over dinner, she said: “Camilla’s nice, she and I are on the same charity together, Medical Detection Dogs, and I’ve met her a couple of times and she’s really lovely so I’d love her to come over.”

Newcomer Max Brown, whose role in the movie is being kept under wraps, admitted he is a big fan of Prince Harry. He said: “I’m a Harry fan. He just seems like an alright, down to earth guy and doesn’t take it too seriously and I think that’s important.” While Douglas Reith, who portrays Lord Merton, revealed that he would love to invite the Duchess of Cambridge round for dinner. He said: “Kate Middleton. I think she is a wonderful inclusion in the royal family. I think she’s going to be absolutely splendid one day when she becomes queen.” Another Downton newcomer, David Haig, admitted he is a huge fan of Princes William and Harry. He said: “I like the boys. I think they’re brilliant and really important for the future of the royal family.”

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Downton Abbey the movie centres on a visit from the royal family. The film takes place in 1927, two years from where the TV series left off. The Crawley family and their army of loyal maids, butlers and cooks are thrown into disarray by the impending arrival of King George V and Queen Mary. For the most extravagant scenes, producers used 100 horses, 80 soldiers and six gun carriages from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, the first time they have appeared in a drama. Writer Julian Fellowes says the idea for the film came from a true story about the King and Queen Mary visiting South Yorkshire in 1912. As well as tucking into lavish 13-course dinners, which included puddings served in sugar baskets that took four days to weave, the royal couple met miners and toured pit villages.

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According to Variety, the Crawley’s Yorkshire estate is being run by fewer servants in the wake of the Great Depression and the aftermath of World War I, and so the family ask retired head butler Carson (Jim Carter) to return to help with their affairs. But when the monarch’s French chef – played by Philippe Spall – and his entourage attempt to take over, it becomes a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

Downton Abbey opens in cinemas on Friday 13 September.

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