Diana Rigg Has A New Role That May Fill The Lady Olenna-Shaped Hole In Your Heart

by Kayla Hawkins
Courtesy of ©ITVStudios2017 for MASTERPIECE

Spoilers for Game Of Thrones! The moment when Game of Thrones killed off Lady Olenna may have been shockingly dramatic, but it was also shockingly tragic to lose the brilliant performance of Dame Diana Rigg in the role. But for those who want to see more of her sharp-tongued wit and withering one-liners, Diana Rigg's Victoria character seems to have been designed to have some real similarities to her conniving GOT matriarch — even at the expense of historical accuracy.

But all of Victoria creator Daisy Goodwin's changes to the real Duchess of Buccleuch were chosen to make the Duchess a better, more interesting foil for the young queen, and any show that can have Diana Rigg should certainly be happy to include her. In real life, the Duchess of Buccleuch was Queen Victoria's Mistress of the Robes in the mid-1840s, just like she is on the show. However, on Victoria, the Duchess is decades Victoria's senior, while in real life, Charlotte Anne Montagu Douglas Scott was born in 1811, making her much closer in age to the young Victoria. Goodwin wrote for Radio Times, "I felt that an older woman like the Duchess of Buccleuch would be familiar with the feeling of hopelessness and inadequacy that can take new mothers by surprise."

Rigg's performance as the Duchess calls back to Lady Olenna, because the series suggests a contentious relationship between the two. And the actor is very skilled at delivering barbs, side-eye, and judgment of the actions of young people. This relationship also adds to the impression that while Victoria is still new to royal life, the Duchess has more experience than she does. She's totally at ease in public and in control of the room, just like Lady Olenna. Making the duchess significantly older than is historically accurate also makes her more of a mentor. Star Jenna Coleman told Masterpiece in an interview, "The Duchess of Baccleuch begins taking on quite a specific role, and that role changes as the series goes on, and that relationship... becomes very touching." Of course, she also mentions that when Rigg first appears, she's also hilarious. Her wit will likely make her a new fan-favorite character in Season 2.

While it will take some time for the Duchess and the queen to form a strong relationship on the show, according to the Royal Collection, the real Duchess of Baccleuch was almost immediately close with Victoria, and was described by the queen as an "agreeable, sensible, clever little person." After the Duchess ceased serving as the Mistress of the Robes — the lady responsible for the queen's clothes and jewels — in 1846, she went on to live until 1895 (which would have made the character as played by Rigg around 150 years old at the time of her death). The real Duchess' family also wound up in the royal orbit. Lady Victoria Scott was named after the queen, and her daughter-in-law, Louisa, was also one of Queen Victoria's future Mistresses of the Robes, and actually served the queen in the final few years of her life.

But even though the series has taken some historical liberties, having Rigg's character on Victoria has led to some additional attention and interest in the real Duchess. House and Events Manager at the Duchess of Baccleuch's historical home Helen Currie told History Scotland, "It’s wonderful that people want to find out more about Charlotte Anne since the new series began, however it’s safe to say there has been a bit of creative license. The real-life Charlotte-Anne couldn’t be more different." But she also called it "no bad thing" that a "big star" like Rigg is bringing the Duchess to life, and bringing more attention to the real woman and her legacy.