The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early twentieth century.
The film begins in 1927 by following the journey of a letter from Buckingham Palace to Downton Abbey. As the mail is being sorted & loaded onto the Mail Train in London, a stranger boards a carriage. The letter arrives at Downton Abbey, received by Andy, the footman & handed over to Mr Thomas Barrow, the Butler. Robert Crawley, The Earl of Grantham, is given the mail as soon as he comes downstairs for breakfast with his daughter, Lady Mary Talbot, and son-in-law, Tom Branson. Robert reads the letter & announces that King George V & Queen Mary are coming to Downton as part of a royal tour through the country. Queen Mary's Lady-in-Waiting, Lady Maud Bagshaw, is the cousin of Lord Grantham, however the two families have fallen out due to an inheritance issue. The Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley, is told by her son Robert that Maud is coming to Downton. She is shocked & perturbed by the news. Violet believes Robert is being cheated out of a rightful inheritance. The Royal Staff arrive; including the Royal Page of the Backstairs, the Queen's Royal Dresser & the King's Royal Dresser, Mr Richard Ellis. The Downton staff is caught off guard by the arrogance of the Royal staff.
The stranger who boarded the train has arrived in Downton Village & books a room overlooking the village greens & seeks out Tom Branson, introducing himself as Major Chetwode. Branson is convinced Major Chetwode is one of the royal detectives just checking up on him for the visit but Mary sees Tom coming out of a pub with Major Chetwode & becomes suspicious. Before the Royal parade through Downton Village, Tom is followed by Mary, in pursuit of Chetwode who has found the King on his horse awaiting the Royal Artillery. Chetwode removes a pistol from his coat & to aims it at the King when Tom tackles him to the ground telling Mary to grab the gun.
Mary has become convinced Barrow is not stepping up to the mark & asks Mr Carson, the now retired former butler of Downton Abbey, to return temporarily. Barrow, upset with being replaced, makes his feelings clear in a moment of rare candor between himself & Lord Grantham. Before leaving he informs them that the boiler is broken. Mary asks if Barrow will be sacked however, Robert is impressed with Barrow's integrity. The plumber arrives to fix the boiler & flirts with Daisy, setting off jealousy in her fiancé Andy, who purposely breaks the boiler again in anger.
The household has been completely taken over by the Royal Staff but Anna & Bates have a plan. The King asks Bertie to accompany the Prince of Wales on a 3-month Tour of Africa; Edith is excited for Bertie but upset as she is now pregnant. Princess Mary is outside on a bench in the garden crying; Tom, unaware of her identity, approaches her, sparking a conversation which inspires the Princess to stay with her intolerable husband for the sake of the children. Edith's ball gown arrives however, in a delivery mix up, she receives a similar dress for someone twice her size. Anna, realizing that Miss Lorton is stealing from Downton Abbey, agrees to say nothing provided that Lorton return the items and fit Edith's dress by morning. Downstairs, the Downton staff has gathered in the cellar excited by a plan to save Downton's honour, but Mr Carson is concerned.
Mr Barrow & Mr Ellis trick most of the royal staff into traveling to London as part of Anna & Bates' plan to take back the household. The two then continue into York for a drink, after which, Barrow waits for Ellis to return from visiting his nearby parents. While waiting, Thomas Barrow meets Chris Webster, who invites him to a club. Barrow accepts & leaves a message for Ellis. Webster takes Barrow to a hidden nightclub called the "Turton". The crowd inside is mostly men dancing together. Barrow & Webster begin to dance when the police storm the nightclub, throwing everyone into police vans. Mr Ellis witnesses the arrests & as the King's Royal Valet gets Barrow released where the two confide in each other about their homosexuality. Later, Ellis gives Barrow a silver locket as a reminder until they meet again & kisses him.
At dinner the King comments on the difference from the planned menu & is impressed, praising Monsieur Courbet. Mr Molesley, quick to defend Downton, stops as he is carrying away a tray, to say that the dinner was actually prepared by Mrs Patmore & that the Downton staff were serving it. There is a stunned moment of absolute silence as Molesley realizes he just spoke to the King without being asked. Extremely surprised & embarrassed, Robert apologizes. The Queen, understanding his embarrassment, praises the work of Mrs Patmore & tells Cora that they are used to people behaving strangely around them. Isobel has figured out that Lucy is Lady Bagshaw's daughter. Maud explains to Isobel that she never married Lucy's father before his death but has made Lucy her sole heir. Isobel insists that she tell Violet the truth. Maud reveals the truth to Violet, who is understanding. Princess Mary tells her parents that she will stay with her husband & that Branson was an influence over her decision. She asks her father to say something nice to Branson. The King responds by approaching Tom & telling him that he knows he "has more than one thing to thank him for".
Mary asks her grandmother about her journey to London. Violet reluctantly tells Mary that she has had medical tests & doesn't have much longer to live. Mary, while extremely upset, is calmed by Violet who puts her at ease, telling Mary how proud she is of her. Henry Talbot arrives in time to accompany the family to Harewood where Mary asks if they should keep Downton Abbey. Henry replies "we're stuck with it, aren't we?" Edith & Bertie are congratulated on their forthcoming child by the royal couple & told by the King that Bertie will not be going on tour. They ask Cora & Robert about the Kings change of mind. Cora tells them, that while Bertie asked the King, she asked the Queen. Lucy enters the ballroom with a handkerchief for Maud as an excuse to watch the dancing. Tom admits that he wishes they could dance together. Lucy leaves the ballroom followed by Tom & the two have their dance on the terrace. Back at Downton Abbey, Mr Carson & his wife Mrs Hughes discuss the future of Downton. Carson promises that it will be standing for another hundred years, with the Crawley family still living in it.
Actors movie: Downton Abbey
- Mr Bakewell
- Bertie Hexham
- Princess Mary
- Harewood House Footman
- Harewood House Nanny
- Tony Sellick
- Lord Lascelles
- Monsieur Courbet