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Page 3 Profile: Fiona Carnarvon, countess


Ah, the Countess. All’s well at Downton Abbey I hope?

I’m afraid there’s trouble. The glasses are back to front and you won’t like what they’ve done with the cutlery. To make matters worse there aren’t nearly enough servants tending to the Crawley family.

Good heavens, what will the dinner guests think?

Fiona Carnarvon, otherwise known as the Countess of Carnarvon, is unhappy about a series of errors by the makers of Downton, which is filmed at her castle, Highclere. The show, she says, is getting “the little details” wrong, and it’s really starting to grate on her: “after all … it’s my dining table and obviously we wouldn’t set it like that.” Obviously.

Whatever can be done to civilise these rogues?

Fear not, Lady Carnarvon is here to help with a new etiquette blog. She cautions against butlers getting their fingerprints on glasses (make them wear white gloves). She also advises how to feed dozens of hunters after a shoot. If you find yourself wondering where to seat a bishop at tea then the blog can help with that too.

Any other faux pas to watch out for?

Oui: be sure to pronounce “placement” in a French accent when referring to the art of setting tables. Otherwise the staff will think you’re talking about an internship.

Thanks. So is Lady Carnarvon not enjoying the camera crews?

On the contrary. The pernickety Countess loves having Downton film there. She just tries “not to look” at the gaffes anymore. 

Spiffing. When’s the new series?

Later this month. The teaser trailer offers fans their first glimpse of Lady Mary Crawley since her husband was killed off in the Christmas special. Expect fireworks.