Warning: may contain spoilers!
On Friday 15th September, the much awaited film Victoria & Abdul was released in cinemas and because several scenes had been filmed at Knebworth House & Gardens we made a special team trip to see it.
Knebworth House doubled as Balmoral and bits of Windsor, which is fitting given that Edith, the Dowager Countless of Lytton, who lived in Knebworth House, met Abdul Karim and his wife at the Balmoral. In 1895 Edith became lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria and her late husband Robert Bulwer-Lytton, had been Viceroy of India from 1876 to 1880.
It is not the first time Knebworth House has been filmed as Balmoral, with Netflix’s award-winning TV series “The Crown” and the Oscar-winner “The King’s Speech”.
As we waited in the cinema lobby for the screening of Victoria & Abdul to begin the team reminisced about their involvement with the filming, including one incident where Eddie Izzard was quite literally caught with his trousers down!
We were among the first to enter the screening, expectations were high and we were giddy with anticipation.
The first half of the film was lighthearted, full of jokes and playfulness, bordering on cheesy; in many ways it was a good representation of how most friendships begin. Then of course there was the classic ‘all is lost’ moment in the storyline and you’re left waiting for a hero to come along and save the day. Except, realism strikes again and the hero doesn’t come; much to the disappointment of the girl in the corner of the cinema that found it all too much and could be heard audibly sobbing throughout much of the second half.
At the end of the film we were keen to see the credit for Knebworth House. We kept waiting, and waiting, through the cast, supporting cast, composers, designers, writers, producers, waiting and waiting, and just as we’d almost given up hope, there it was. Third line from the end: “Knebworth House”! All in all it was a wonderful finale to the process.
We are now looking forward to the releases of: “Goodbye Christopher Robin”, “Paddington 2”, and season 2 of “The Crown”, which all feature scenes from Knebworth.