"Downton Abbey" welcomed a royal visitor Thursday — and the TV show's creator told the Duchess of Cambridge she's partly responsible for its global success.

Kate visited the set of the award-winning costume drama at London's Ealing Studios, meeting cast members Jim Carter, who plays butler Mr. Carson, Lady Mary actress Michele Dockery, and the show's Lord and Lady Grantham, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern. The duchess visited hair and makeup departments, toured scenery construction and watched a scene being filmed for the show's upcoming sixth season.

The show's writer, Julian Fellowes, told Kate that "your Royal Highness has played a significant part in the 'Downton' story already."

Fellowes described how a 2011 visit to the U.S. by Kate and her husband, Prince William, came as producers tried to raise the profile of the show. Fellowes said when the duchess mentioned she was a fan "this went into the media like an Exocet missile. And soon all of America and most of the world knew it."

The tour was one of Kate's final public engagements before she is due to give birth to her second child next month.

Graywolf Press poet is honored

Novelist Marilynne Robinson and Graywolf Press' Claudia Rankine were among the winners Thursday night of National Book Critics Circle prizes. Robinson's "Lila," the last of her acclaimed trilogy of Iowa-based novels won for fiction. Rankine, whose book "Citizen: An American Lyric" was nominated in both the poetry and criticism categories, received the poetry prize. It was the first time in the history of the National Book Critics Circle awards that one book was nominated in two fields.

Another Frozen: The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday announced plans to make a sequel to the animated megahit "Frozen." Bob Iger, Walt Disney Co. chief executive, and John Lasseter, head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, joined in officially announcing "Frozen 2" at the company's annual shareholders meeting in San Francisco.

joining 'allegiance': Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga will join the cast of George Takei's musical "Allegiance" on Broadway. The Broadway veteran played the lead female role, Kei Kimura, when the musical made its premiere in 2012 at the Old Globe in San Diego, Calif. She will reprise it at the Longacre Theatre starting this fall. Producers also said Telly Leung of "Glee" will also rejoin the cast.

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