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The Real-Life ‘Downton’ Millionairesses Who Changed Britain

Lady Grantham of ‘Downton Abbey’ is definately not an anomaly. British aristocrats married United states heiresses in droves within the very early 1900s. But ended up being it actually since straightforward as ‘cash for class’?

Tim Teeman

Senior Editor and Writer


It really is the many animated this Downton Abbey fan has ever seen Lady Grantham. Elizabeth McGovern, whom plays the period detergent opera’s slack-jawed, sleepy-eyed matriarch Cora—who constantly appears listlessly zonked, whatever catastrophe has simply befallen her spouse or unlucky-in-love daughters—gallops with gusto through the tales for the real-life American heiresses who married British aristocrats in the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary series Million Dollar American Princesses.

The three-part series, which starts on Sunday night right before the very first episode of Season Five of Downton, centers around the tales of the clutch associated with 200 roughly US heiresses who married British lords at across the end associated with the 19 th century therefore the start of 20 th.

The marital exchange, on top at minimum, appears sharp and sound: Hard-up Uk aristocrats take advantage of the wide range of United states heiresses, while American heiresses get a name also to are now living in a grand, crumbling castle means before their great grandkids have all Harry Potter-obsessed with precisely the thing that is same. Just just exactly What this trade that is seemingly symmetrical of ignored to element in was greed, personalities, and marriage-killing individual frailties.

Exactly What this program persuasively shows is Britain is jolly grateful for the US women who alighted on its shores—one union produced Britain’s inspirational wartime PM, Winston, while another wedding, generations later, led to Princes William and Harry, now Prince George. Weiterlesen