Parties: Oh my, what a big medal

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The Independent Online

The setting for the premiere party of the period piece The Duchess was the suitably magnificent Durbar Court, a covered courtyard in the quiet heart of Whitehall – a venue the PM had signed off on as a "gesture of goodwill to British film".

Perhaps it was the string quartet or the establishment guests (Shadow Chancellor George Osborne here, BBC honcho Alan Yentob there) but everyone stood a little taller, especially Keira Knightley, the Duchess Georgiana herself, still braving the Moschino heels she'd teetered down the red carpet in. After mingling and admiring Olympic kayaker Tim Brabants' gold medal ("So heavy!"), she soon retired with her parents to a quieter room.

Indeed, parents were the accessory of the night. The director, Saul Dibb, brought his ("He's done it all himself, you know," said his father, the documentary-maker Mike), as did Dominic Cooper, who plays Earl Grey, and couldn't help mentioning his disappointment that his speech about the French revolution had been abridged. He even researched it by attending PM's Questions, he said, before being lured away by a tray of mushroom tarts. Roast beef and mini Yorkshires also circulated, and finally passion-fruit confections ("Don't tempt me!" Yentob implored).

Though Dibb was less than forthcoming on how this compared with other premieres ("Never been to any"), everyone else agreed it had been a jolly good show, even if, given there was no gambling and no one's hair caught fire, Georgiana herself might have found it just a little tame.

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