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Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville sparks romance rumours with actress Claire Rankin after marriage split

The Paddington actor recently parted ways from wife Lulu Williams after 25 years of marriage

Hugh Bonneville
Sharnaz Shahid
Deputy Online Editor
11 March 2024
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Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville has seemingly confirmed his new romance with Canadian actress Claire Rankin.

In newly released images, obtained by The Sun, the pair have been spotted together during a date night in London – with both of them appearing happy as they linked arms. 

hugh bonneville smiling in tuxedo © Getty
Hugh Bonneville has moved on from his split from his wife of 25 years

It's been reported that they have enjoyed a string of dates in the capital city following the British actor's split from his wife Lulu Williams. 

According to the publication, Hugh took Claire as his date when he visited Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Camilla last month, and again, during a dinner with his Downton Abbey co-star and on-screen daughter Michelle Dockery

Not much is known about the relationship between Hugh and Claire, who was previously married to Josh Randall, a former co-star of Hugh's. 

Claire Rankin and Josh Randal© Getty
Claire Rankin was previously married to Josh Randal

Back in October, a spokesperson for the Notting Hill star confirmed that he had parted ways with his wife of 25 years. A statement released to The Sun read: "I can confirm that Hugh Bonneville and Lulu Williams have separated." 

The couple tied the knot in 1998 and welcomed their son, Felix, shortly after. The family-of-three lived together in West Sussex, though Hugh tended to keep his family life out of the spotlight. 

To mark their 20th wedding anniversary, the former couple renewed their vows at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. 

hugh bonneville and wife attending a Downton Abbey premiere © Getty
Hugh with his former wife Lulu

Hugh, who starred as Lord Grantham in the popular period ITV drama Downton Abbey, previously shared a rare glimpse inside his life as a father during a candid chat with online magazine, Parents. 

"I think the absolute key one is don't force your child to do the things you failed to do and wanted to do, like playing the piano or something," he said. "Another great piece of advice that someone once said to me when my little boy was arriving was, 'Hug him close, and let him fly.'" 

The former couple met when they were teenagers but reconnected later in life and got together in their 30s, thanks to Hugh's mother Patricia. The actor previously said: "Lulu was running a marquee company... my mother rang her to hire some chairs or something and said, ''Do you remember Hugh?' It did infuriate me that I had to give full credit to my mum for reintroducing us."

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