The plot picks up about a year and a half after the TV shows ends. In 1927, King George V and Queen Mary are visiting the Abbey. In order to prep for the royal family arrival, Lady Mary has asked Mr. Carson to return from retirement to help out the family and get the Abbey in tip-top shape just as the world seems to be bordering on disarray. Lady Mary is toying with leaving Downton for a new life with her husband, Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode), as preparations for the king and queen's visit are at a fever pitch. Edith returns to her former home as well (she married the Marquess, Bertie Pellham, in the final episode of the TV series). Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt), Lady Mary’s loyal maid, reminds her that Downton plays a pivotal role in the small English village.
“Little flashes of sibling rivalries still return when Edith visits," Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Crawley family patriarch, aka the Earl of Grantham, said to VF. "But on the whole, the family is pulling together in the right direction and the forces of drama are actually external, which is quite fun."
"It's sort of Downton versus the world," Bonneville said. We'll raise a glass of champs to that.