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Princess Di cast in ‘Duchess’ promos

Pathe marketers unite Knightley with royalty

Diana, Princess of Wales, died more than a decade ago. But she stills turns heads in Blighty quicker than you can say “Keira Knightley.”

That’s the message from the trailer to “The Duchess,” the period drama about the life and loves of Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire and great-great-great-great aunt to Diana, that bows Sept. 5 in the U.K. and Sept. 19 in the U.S.

Diana is nowhere to be seen in the film — set almost 200 years before her time — but Pathe’s marketers didn’t let that stand in the way of hyping the pic.

The “Duchess” trailer opens with repeated images of Diana juxtaposed with Knightley as Georgiana and includes the wording ‘Two women related by ancestry, united by destiny … history repeats itself.’

While Diana and Georgiana did lead sometimes similar lives — both were married young to powerful older men, adored by the general public but troubled in their personal lives and died young — Knightley, helmer Saul Dibb and biography writer Amanda Foreman say the association is overplayed.

“Marketing is nothing to do with me. You’re going to have to ask whoever it was at the film company who thought was a good idea,” Knightley told Channel 4.

For it’s part, Pathe says in a statement sent to Variety, “The trailer simply reflects historical fact. Diana was a direct descendent of Georgiana,” and speaks of the “uncanny parallels between the lives of the two women.”

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