"There were three people in her marriage.” Sound familiar? It’s one of the taglines being used to promote The Duchess, the new costume drama based on Amanda Foreman’s best-selling and highly praised biography of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire — 18th-century fashion plate, Whig heroine, wronged wife and all-round darling of the people. But, of course, we’ve heard it somewhere before.
The producers of this film tell us that they were keen not to retell the story of Diana, Princess of Wales through the prism of her illustrious ancestor Georgiana. If that’s true, they should have conveyed the message more effectively to their advertising team, which seems to have gone all out to do just that.
Images of Diana have been all over the trailers, a ghostly but still doe-eyed presence looking on as Keira Knightley flits from carriage to balcony to aristocratic ménage à trois. “Two women related by ancestry .?.?. united by destiny .?.?. history repeats itself,” we are told.
Well, two of those claims don’t really hold up, but never mind; if linking Diana to her great-great-great-great aunt in this way gets the non-history-reading audiences in, it will be worth it, simply because it is only through TV series and films such as this that the younger members of the local multiplex audience will learn anything much about their own history now.