At the heart of a romance that became an international incident

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The London Film Festival’s premiere of A United Kingdom shines a spotlight on Lambeth.

Set in 1948, the film tells the true story of Botswanan prince Seretse Khama, white clerk Ruth Williams, and the international incident their marriage triggered.

With Ruth’s family home set in Whittlesey Street, the production generously donated to Lambeth Estates Residents Association and Hatch Row tenants and residents, while filming there in November last year.

As the couple leave a pub filmed on Roupell Street, they are accosted. And the romantic marriage proposal scene was filmed, unmistakably, at the Albert Embankment. The prince himself, the character Seretse Khama, lives in a boarding house set in Aquinas Street.

Before the drama heads off to Botswana, we also see the couple in Camden’s Carey Street, beautifully dressed for the period, and Lewisham’s Rivoli Ballroom on Brockley Road.

You’ll spot these scenes in the trailer here.

Khama was the son of the king of the Bamangwato people, in what was then the British protectorate of Bechuanaland. The British exiled Khama from Bechuanaland in 1951, to placate apartheid South Africa. After giving up their royal status, the Khamas were allowed to return to the country in 1956. Seretse Khama went on to found the Bechuanaland Democratic Party, and became the first president of Botswana after the independence of 1966.

The film is directed by Amma Asante and stars David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.

FilmFixer manages the film office for Lambeth Council. FilmFixer director Andrew Pavord says, “The story is one which Lambeth residents are looking forward to seeing rendered on screen, so it’s a real treat for Lambeth to feature this prominently in the London scenes. It’s a fantastic film about a piece of forgotten history.

“I know Lambeth residents will be putting the production’s generous gift, out of thanks for filming locally, to very good use.”

The film screens on October 11 as part of the festival and goes on general release on 25 November in the UK.