The first trailer for Downton Abbey’s Christmas special has been released, showing the Crawleys rubbing shoulders with royalty.

The minute-long clip – which debuted on ITV on Saturday night – sees the clan heading up to London and visiting Buckingham Palace as Lady Rose is presented to society.

And it suggests fans can look forward to a lavish ball, a hint of royal romance and the return of Shirley MacLaine as the flamboyant Martha Levinson – once again clashing with Maggie Smith’s Countess.

Producers have promised that after 2012’s Christmas special – in which Matthew Crawley was killed, leaving viewers shocked – 2013’s festive visit to Downton will be a far more feelgood affair.

It will be aired at 8.30pm on ITV on Christmas night.

The trailer can be seen below.