The film begins in 1927 by following the journey of a letter from Buckingham Palace to Downton Abbey. As the mail is being sorted and loaded onto the Mail Train in London, a stranger boards a carriage. The letter arrives at Downton Abbey, received by Andy, the footman and handed over to Mr Thomas Barrow, the Butler. Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, is given the mail as soon as he comes downstairs for breakfast with his daughter, Lady Mary Talbot, and son-in-law, Tom Branson. Robert reads the letter and announces that King George V and Queen Mary are coming to Downton as part of a royal tour through the country.