Tag Archives: victoria

Status Update – Victoria: Episode 5

Feb 15, 2017

Man, I really do like this show! It’s been so much fun watching the way Jenna Coleman plays Victoria so, so well (although I still like the actor who played Albert in The Young Victoria much more than this guy). And once again, they got the major historical details of Albert having a really hard time adjusting and finding a place down pretty good.

I wonder, though, if 21st century audiences really appreciate how bad it really was for Albert. We have certain expectations about the equality between the sexes these days, but even with my History Apologist ways, I have to admit that the role of women compared to men was at a historical low in the 1840s. If he had married any other woman in the entire world, Albert would have expected to be a firm head of household. He would have exercised a certain amount of control and influence over his wife and children. His opinions would have been sacrosanct, and there would be no question that he would be taken very seriously. And Albert was a very serious man.

But Albert was in the unique to the 19th century of being number two in his marriage. As much as Victoria wanted it to be otherwise (and really did work for things like Albert’s right to take her into dinner, and having parliament give him the title of Prince Consort, which they didn’t until the 1850s). We know from letters and diaries that the stress that his unique and, for the time, humiliating position was acute. He really suffered for the first few years, until he figured out how to make a name and a place for himself. Which he did by taking up various charitable causes. I’m sure they’ll get into it later, but Albert gained a reputation for hard work and competence as an organizer and supporter of causes.

But the one thing that I call shenanigans on for this episode in the whole thing with Victoria trying not to have a baby right away. That’s sort of a modern spin on things, in my opinion. Victoria wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of pregnancy and children, but she knew it was inevitable. However, according to everything I’ve read, it seems like she didn’t really know how much she was going to hate it until she was already very pregnant with her first, Vicky. So I would believe the scene between her and Albert when he catches her jumping up and down after sexy times if she’d already had Vicky and knew what she was trying to prevent. Before that? I don’t think she knew.

Victoria & Albert were really *cough* active, though. And we know this because Victoria was the queen of TMI and pretty much told everyone what they were up to all the time. Also, one thing the show isn’t good at showing is that Victoria was really almost never alone. The scene where Lehzen walks in on the two of them in the morning and Victoria tells Albert that she sleeps in the room next door? True. Very true. Only there was a big hole in the wall (I imagine it being like a window, based on what I read) so that Victoria had very little privacy ever. I always did wonder how that worked, seeing as how much V&A “enjoyed” each other.

Anyhow, if I’m remembering correctly, Victoria was pregnant within two months of her wedding, so I’m interested to see how the show handles that.

This is one of my favorite paintings of Victoria & Albert because of how telling it is about Victoria’s attitude toward motherhood. V&A are obviously lovestruck, with eyes only for each other (and the painting is often cropped to show just this part). But way, way over on the other side of the canvas, playing with dead animals? That’s Vicky, their firstborn! And that says it all.

Status Update – Victoria: Episode 3

Jan 31, 2017

For those of you who have been watching PBS’s new Masterpiece Theater series, Victoria, since I majored in the History of the 19th Century in college and spent my summer reading several books about Victoria & Albert and their household, I’ve been doing a little commentary about each episode after it airs to say whether it’s historically accurate or not.

So here we are at episode three…and, well, they’re not even entirely getting the names right now. Ha!

They’ve continued with this sort of romance between Victoria and Melbourne, but as I pointed out last week, that’s not even a little bit accurate, and it actually grossly misrepresents both the law of the time—which stated that a member of the royal family could not marry a British subject—and the sentiments of both Victoria and Melbourne. They were close, yes, and she probably had a little crush on him, but she wasn’t the sort to get serious ideas about a man unless he was going to be her husband, and Melbourne had a mistress with whom he was very happy.

So that bit of this week’s episode is fabrication once again.

I’m having a slightly harder time deciding how I feel about the portrayal of Prince Albert. On the one hand, Albert was about the furthest thing from a romantic that existed. That scene where he cuts his shirt to put Victoria’s flower near his heart? Yeah, from everything I’ve read about Albert and his personality, there’s no way he would do that. Sorry ladies!

Personally, I think the real Albert was way handsomer than the actor they’ve got playing him.

But I do think that the actor portraying Albert—even though he keeps falling out of his German accent—did do a good job of portraying Albert’s personality. He was, apparently, rather gruff and dour. He did contradict Victoria a lot, to the point where later in their marriage they would get into rip-roaring fights. And he was a notorious party-pooper. He didn’t like cards, as the episode portrayed, where Victoria did. He liked to be in bed by 9:00 (sort of like me) while Victoria liked to stay up all hours. And he was generally a man’s man and distrusted most women, probably because of the way his mother was forced to leave the family. They did a good, if brief, job of explaining that in this episode, but they should have gone into more detail, because it profoundly affected Albert’s life.

Anyhow, once again, everything with the servants of the house is completely made up. Except that they did steal from Victoria a lot. But she didn’t mind so much and would defend them, to the frustration of her ladies in waiting and others, because at the end of the day, for both Victoria and Albert, their true friends were their servants. They didn’t associate much or have friends amongst the rest of the British aristocracy.

So let’s see how they do with next week’s episode!