Is Belgravia a True Story? Is the British Show Based on Real History?

‘Belgravia’ is a British periodic drama series produced by John Alexander that revolves around the lives of upper-class families at the heart of London. Trenchard’s family and their evolution to the upper ring of the English society during the Victorian Era form the crux of the series.

Is ‘Belgravia’ Based on a True Story?

No. ‘Belgravia’ is not based on a true story. It is based on a book titled the same, written by Julian Fellowes, who is also the author of ‘Downton Abbey.’ The plot of the series is in tandem with that of the book. Though based in fiction, the two events that form the premise of the series are taken from real events in history. In addition to this, the latter part of the series is set in Victorian London during the time of the Industrial revolution. Like many periodic dramas, ‘Belgravia’ weaves its fiction in the backdrop of monumental historical events and periods.

Duchess of Richmond’s Ball and The Battle of Waterloo

The ball in the series is inspired by the event hosted by Duchess Charlotte of Richmond in 1815, right before Quatre Bras that worked as the precursor to the Battle of Waterloo. Duke of Richmond had the official duty to protect the city from the advancing force of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The ball is famous for another reason apart from its grandeur and all the officials who attended it. It was during this ball that the Duke of Wellington commanded all the high ranked officials present at the ball to march to battle at the advent of threat from Bonaparte’s side. It is believed that they left for battle without having much of a chance to even change their clothes. Napoleon Bonaparte rose to prominence during the peak of the French Revolution. He was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, by Duke Wellington’s coalition and the Prussian army. This marked the end of the historical career of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The periodic drama uses this ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond and the Battle of Waterloo to understand the motives and cause for tension in the Trenchard family that soon unravel. The series, very much like ‘Downton Abbey,’ focuses on the class politics present in London at that time in history. Sophia Trenchard’s whirlwind romance has much impact in the aftermath of the legendary ball.

Class Dialogue and the Industrial Revolution

The series delves right into the heart of elite upper-class standards and the rift it causes in society. Noble and traditionalist cultures all around the world in history are famous for its harsh and ruthless treatment of not only the poor but also the ‘newly rich’ families, whose popularity and entry into the social hierarchy is looked at with downcast eyes. The double standards of the English society and its preoccupation with pure lineage is well known through novels like ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover.’ It wasn’t until the Second World War that much of the English society saw a shift in this paradigm.

The second event in which the series grounds itself is in the Victorian Era. This period in history is famous for the growth of the Industrial Revolution. Though the hierarchy system remained more or less the same, the series shows how merchants like James Trenchard could amass wealth due to the opportunities provided by the Industrial Revolution. This was the economic prophecy that would cause a significant downfall of the English society’s ardent observance of class hegemonies. The Industrial revolution gave impetus for people born out of nobility a chance at economic prosperity.

At the junction of transition, the series grounds itself in the realities and possibilities of its time. Sophia’s love affair provides the plot with the much-required secret of an English family. In this manner, it keeps the domestic political front of the show in the conservative morality of its times. However, the overarching political framework is that of change as James Trenchard goes from being ‘the magic man’ who provides supplies during the war to a wealthy businessman. Though not born in a high rank, he is able to carve out his social stand with the traditional elitists.

Josh Linus
Josh Linus
Josh can talk films for hours on end, discussing the really good cinema, the really bad, and anything in between. He enjoys everything - from epic fantasies to horror, from rom-coms to crime and action thrillers, from sci-fi to musical dramas.

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