The Gentlemen: Are the Wards Inspired by Real Gypsies?

In Netflix’s action crime series ‘The Gentlemen,’ the Wards are a group of gypsies who become the allies of Eddie Horniman, who joins the marijuana empire of Bobby and Susie Glass for the prosperity of his family. When the Glasses fail to move their products through Europe after a falling out with their continental distributor, the Wards, combined with the wisdom of Eddie, become their lifeline. They transport cannabis hidden inside statues of Mother Mary, resolving the headache of Susie. Even though the Wards and their lifestyle are portrayed realistically in the crime drama, they are not based on real people!

The Significance of the Wards

The Wards are not based on a real group of English gypsies. However, there are multiple real-life traveler gangs/families in England and the Wards can be seen as the representatives of the same. Even though the characters in Guy Ritchie’s crime drama are fictional, they represent actual groups or classes that exist in Britain. The protagonist Edward “Eddie” Horniman is the representative of the English aristocracy and Susie becomes a part of the former soldier’s life on behalf of a larger marijuana trafficking network. The show explores the clash that happens when these varying groups collide.

“The fascinating conceit was what attracted me, the melding of the aristocracy and the underworld, and how those things collide in the bombastic way. Britain is so defined by class, and we love it and hate it for various reasons, but defining it in the melee of this was really fascinating for me,” Theo James, who plays Eddie, told BBC. Since gypsies are an unignorable part of the English population, Ritchie might have wanted to address their presence and significance through the Wards. The alliance the travelers form with the aristocrats is significant to what the filmmaker explores throughout the series.

In the past, aristocrats were the most superior class right after the monarchs who ruled the United Kingdom. At the same time, the gypsies were positioned at the bottom of the British strata. An alliance between the two as equals might have been unthinkable two or three hundred years ago. However, after the decline of the English aristocracy, the distance between the two groups in the social strata became significantly low. The aristocrats were forced to get down from their high horses to socially interact and mingle with groups they once deemed inferior. Through the alliance between Eddie and JP and other members of his Ward family, Ritchie and his team of writers showcase this change in social positions.

“It’s a sojourn into aristocrats meeting world gangsters. The aristocrats have got brilliant houses, lots of land but they don’t have any cash to live on. That’s why in our story the aristocrats are putting skunk farms in their back gardens. The show is about the transition, the evolution from zoo to jungle and how to hunt in the jungle to survive,” Ritchie said about the foundation of the show’s narrative. While looking through traditional lenses, the Wards have been a part of the “jungle” for a long time. As the series progresses, Eddie leaves his “zoo” to become a part of the same wilderness ruled by people like the Wards and the Glasses for his family’s survival.

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