‘Downton Abbey’: An Etiquette Expert Breaks Down the Awkward Scene Where Mr. Molesley Corrects the King

Even the cast and crew of Downton Abbey probably never expected the TV series — which ran from 2010 to 2015 — to become a phenomenon. In the United States, the show aired on PBS as part of the channel’s Masterpiece Classic anthology. And the show’s audience grew when it jumped to the big screen for a 2019 film of the same name. Now an etiquette expert has something to say about a Downton Abbey movie scene involving Kevin Doyle’s Mr. Molesley and the king.

The movie became a huge hit in 2019

Downton Abbey the film premiered in theaters in September 2019. Like the series, the movie received acclaim. It also earned $192 million worldwide against an estimated budget of $13 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Downton Abbey made its first film adaptation a royal affair.

The movie’s storyline hinges on King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) paying a visit to the Crawley family’s titular Yorkshire country estate. And Downton Abbey fully explores the impact that such an important visit would have on everyone, from the Crawley family to their servants.

What Mr. Molesley’s scene with the king in ‘Downton Abbey’ gets right about etiquette

Downton Abbey Mr. Molesley king, Kevin Doyle
Kevin Doyle plays Mr. Molesley in ‘Downton Abbey’ | Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

In a recent video for Vanity Fair, etiquette expert Myka Meier reviews scenes in several movies and TV shows to assess whether the etiquette on display is accurate. And she turned her attention to the dinner scene in the first Downton Abbey movie.

In one awkward moment, Mr. Molesley corrects the king’s assumption about who organized the dinner, revealing it was the Downton Abbey staff who served. And the royal couple graciously cuts Molesley some slack.

“If you have staff that’s badly mannered, it reflects directly on the family,” Meier says in the Vanity Fair video, though she notes the behavior of the attendees generally fits proper etiquette. “When the King and Queen respond to Molesley, it actually shows they have excellent etiquette. They really let him off easy because it would’ve been horrible etiquette to make him feel even worse than he already felt.”

Will a 3rd movie follow ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’?

The first Downton Abbey movie was a worthwhile extension of the TV series. But the film also kicked off what could be a franchise. Already, it spawned a sequel in 2022’s Downton Abbey: A New Era. That movie earned $90 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, against a reported $40 million production budget.

And though a third film isn’t yet official, Julian Fellowes — who created the series and wrote both films — seems open to it. In the meantime, fans have plenty of Downton Abbey content to enjoy, especially while Downton Abbey: A New Era is available to Peacock subscribers to stream at home.

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