The mum of two young actors from Ashington has said the family are ‘coming back down to earth’ after they welcomed the Duchess of Cambridge to the set of Downton Abbey.
Four-year-olds Zac and Oliver Barker, who play the role of Master George Crawley in the popular ITV drama, joined the rest of the cast at Ealing Studios in London last Thursday (March 12) for the royal visit.
“It was absolutely incredible, really surreal and something that we’ll never forget,” mum Clare Barker told the County Times. “We were really lucky to get the opportunity to experience something like that.”
Despite being surrounded by a myriad of photographers, cameras, journalists and TV crew, the identical brothers - who are triplets along with their sister Megan - appeared to take it all in their stride with Zac even offering to give an eight-month pregnant Kate Middleton a posy on her arrival.
“So we were told to go out and someone will show us where to stand,” explained Clare. “You could hear people saying ‘that’s George, that’s the little boy who plays George’ and it was really weird.
“The next minute you hear all this screaming and cheers from the crowd and I look up and there was a big blue Range Rover.
“Kate got out and I got introduced to her and she was lovely, really down to earth and really normal. She was chatty and I instantly warmed to her. I didn’t feel intimidated by speaking to her.
“I introduced her to Zac and she had a chat with him and was a little surprised when he told her he was a triplet.”
The Duchess then posed for a cast photo alongside Oliver. He then handed her a wooden train with Downton Abbey written on along with teddies for Prince George and the new baby which were chosen by the boys’ sister Megan.
“Then after that we went on to a reception and again she was sat around chatting to people saying she was a little bit star-struck and we were saying ‘we’re a little bit star-truck as well actually!’” added Clare.
It was a really beautiful day and one we’ll never forgetClare Barker, mother of Oliver and Zac
“She must have been there about three hours, and apparently she stayed longer than she should have been, but she wasn’t in a great rush to leave and she was genuinely interested and asking questions.”
The County Times first reported in September 2014 that the brothers were set to hit our screens after landing a role in the highly anticipated fifth series of Downton Abbey.
The opportunity came about after an agent specialising in casting twins and multiples for TV and commercial roles contacted Clare and her husband Damian after seeing a picture of the children.
A successful audition then saw them spend a total of 20 days filming between February and August 2014 and they’re now back on set for series six - with ‘fan’ Kate Middleton even staying to watch an episode being filmed.
“We sort of fell into Downton and all these things coming off the back of it now is very random,” Clare continued. “It was a really beautiful day and one we’ll never forget.
“The boys were talking about it in the car on the way home telling the driver they’d met a real princess but she didn’t have a crown which was quite cute.
“But it’s completely water off a duck’s back,” she added. “They just didn’t get it and in a way I’m glad that they’re quite unaware of the circus of it all, and I’m just trying to keep their feet on the ground I suppose, but we’ve got lots of photos so we’ll have lots of evidence to show them when they’re older.
“We’re all just coming back down to earth now.”