The clue was perhaps in his noticeable recent weight loss.
At the marriage of his Downton Abbey co-star Michelle Dockery last weekend, Hugh Bonneville looked trimmer, while the wedding ring he had worn for 25 years was nowhere to be seen – and neither was his loyal wife Lulu Williams.
And at Windsor Castle in May, as he hosted the King’s Coronation Concert, he also seemed to have lost weight.
While friends say Ms Williams, 55, is ‘expectedly devastated’ at the couple’s split, Bonneville, 59, seemed the life and soul as he giggled with wedding guests outside the west London church just nine days ago.
He was tanned and relaxed as he chatted with friends – many from the ITV period drama in which he played the Earl of Grantham – as Ms Dockery wed Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brother, Jasper. It isn’t known if there is a new lady in his life but those close to Ms Williams have spoken in support of her, with one saying: ‘It’s clear that Lulu feels as if 20-odd years of marriage counts for nothing.’
At the marriage of his Downton Abbey co-star Michelle Dockery last weekend, Hugh Bonneville looked trimmer, while the wedding ring he had worn for 25 years was nowhere to be seen – and neither was his loyal wife Lulu Williams
At Windsor Castle in May, as he hosted the King’s Coronation Concert, he also seemed to have lost weight
While friends say Ms Williams, 55, is ‘expectedly devastated’ at the couple’s split, Bonneville, 59, seemed the life and soul as he giggled with wedding guests outside the west London church just nine days ago
At the weekend, a spokesman for Bonneville confirmed that the couple, who have a 20-year-old son, Felix, had indeed separated.
While it came as a shock to some, there had been murmurs within showbusiness circles over the years that all was not well in the relationship.
However, Ms Williams regularly supported her husband at premieres as well as accompanying him on film sets across the world.
It is not known whether she visited him on the set of Paddington In Peru, Bonneville’s latest film and the third movie in the Paddington franchise, shot this summer.
Five years ago, to mark their 20th wedding anniversary, the couple renewed their vows in Las Vegas.
Back in 2012, Ms Williams insisted that she had been unfazed by her husband’s fame. She said: ‘I don’t take any notice. I don’t notice women fawning over him – although I know everybody talks about it. Don’t forget we met as teenagers and we have a lot of history.
Hugh shot to superstardom for his portrayal of the Earl of Grantham on ITV period drama Downton Abbey. Pictured: Hugh on the show
A source claimed that Hugh, pictured here in London in October last year, ‘lost a bit of weight this summer, he was looking trim, tanned and relaxed’
Hugh Bonneville and Lulu Evans at the Viceroy’s House, film premiere, London, UK – 21 Feb 2017
Bonneville and Lulu were last seen together in public at the Old Vic Theatre in London for a gala in April
‘We are not fazed by the showbusiness world. We are just home-loving people.’
Recently, however, Bonneville had been spending time away from the family home in in the sleepy town of Midhurst, West Sussex, which he and Lulu bought some years back.
It is thought that Ms Williams will remain there.
Sources close to the now estranged couple say the decision to split is a ‘fairly recent’ one. In fact, Bonneville was still wearing his gold wedding ring when he fronted the Coronation Concert on May 7.
Hugh Bonneville has announced he is splitting from his wife of 25 years Lulu Williams. Pictured: The couple at the world premiere of Downton Abbey: A New Era in April last year
Pictured: Hugh as The Reverend Roland Wise in BBC series Rev
Hugh Bonneville has confirmed a split from his wife of 25 years Lulu Williams. Pictured: Hugh at the premier of Downton Abbey in New York in September 2019
Hugh Bonneville and Lulu Williams pose for photographers at the world premiere of Paddington in November 2014
Just weeks before, he and Ms Williams were seen at a gala at London’s Old Vic Theatre.
Now the pair’s friends are warning not to expect any sort of reconciliation, with one saying: ‘Divorce is looking to be the most likely outcome.’
In seven weeks, Bonneville will turn 60. Having once called his wife his ‘bedrock’, he will now go into his seventh decade a bachelor, something he confessed he thought he would always be before he met Lulu.