Royal scandal to rock Downton Abbey Christmas special
When Downton Abbey's Crawley family sit down to Christmas lunch this year, the meal will have a decidedly royal flavour.
According to British broadcaster ITV, the Crawleys are off to Buckingham Palace for Christmas lunch, and will be dining with the Windsors.
The episode will be set in the summer of 1923, just seven years after King George V changed the royal family's official surname from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.
The episode, according to ITV, will involved the Crawleys, the Windsors, the Palace and "a scandal [which] threatens to engulf the British monarchy".
Among its highlights are Lady Rose (Lily James) being presented at the Palace for her "coming-out", Cora's mother and brother returning from America, and Robert, the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), being forced "to protect both the royal family and his own".
The episode will air in Britain on Christmas Day. It is not expected to air in Australia until early 2014.
The episode will guest star Shirley MacLaine as Lady Grantham's American mother Cora Levinson and Paul Giamatti as Cora's brother Harold.
Among the members of the royal family expected to appear in the episode are King George V, his wife, Queen Mary of Teck, and their children, including Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, and his younger brother Prince Albert.
Prince Edward would later become King Edward VIII, whose abdication rocked the monarchy and forced his brother, Prince Albert, later King George VI, onto the throne.
King George VI was the father of the current Queen, Elizabeth II.
ITV has confirmed Guy Williams will play King George V in the episode and Oliver Dimsdale will play Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales.
The episode will be filmed at a number of locations, including Lancaster House, which will be doubling for Buckingham Palace, and Basildon Park in Berkshire, which will be used as the Crawley family's London residence.