Victoria and Albert (2001)

 

 

 

Director:     John Erman.

Cast:     Victoria Hamilton (Queen Victoria), Jonathan Firth (Prince Albert), James Callis (Ernest), Diana Rigg (Baroness Lehzen), Patrick Malahide (Sir John Conroy), Roger Hammond (Duke of Coburg), Penelope Wilton ( Princess Mary Louise Victoria, Duchess of Kent), Peter Ustinov (King William IV), Delena Kidd (Queen Adelaide), Timothy Carlton (Dr. Halford), John Wood (Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington), Malcolm Sinclair (Conyngham), Gary Raymond (Archbishop), Nigel Hawthorne (Lord William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne), Crispin Redman (Mr. Anson).

love story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

Volume I.

An old Queen Victoria thinks about her live with her late husband, Prince Albert. 

Flashback.   Victoria plays croquet with Ernest and Albert, two royal German brothers of the House of Coburg.  She likes Ernest better than Albert, who she sees as too stuffy, solemn and serious.  Victoria loves the poetry of Lord Byron, but Albert detests it as the ranting of an immoral man.  But Albert is the favorite of Victoria's mother.  She sees Albert as polite and kind. 

Victoria's mother is a very selfish, immature and bullying personality and her daughter suffers under her thumb.   Victoria prefers the company of the Baroness Lehzen.  The mother is jealous of the Baroness and tells her daughter that she (Victoria) likes the Baroness better than her (the mother).  Mom reminds Victoria of how much she has sacrificed to get the money necessary for them to maintain their social position. 

Germany Saxe-Coburg, 1837.  Albert speaks with the Duke of Coburg about a possible marriage to Victoria:  "I doubt she would have me."  But the Duke is committed to Albert marrying Victoria and he does everything he can to accomplish this mission.  He turns to Victoria's Uncle Leopold the King of Belgium for help. 

Windsor Castle.  English King William IV is also Victoria's uncle.  The King tells Victoria that she should visit him more often.  He obviously does not like Victoria's mother.  Mom gets mad at her daughter for her "making up" to the King, who criticizes mom publicly about her bad advisors.  He says he has been insulted by mom by her keeping Victoria away from him.  In private, the King says about the mother:  "I will bring that woman to heel." 

Lord Chamberlain brings a private letter from the King to Victoria.  Mom and her helper Sir John Conroy both try to intercept the letter, but Lord Chamberlain insists that he personally place the letter in the hands of Victoria.  He delivers the letter, but as soon as he is gone, mom and Conroy insist that she give the letter to them.  When Victoria resists, Conroy just snatches it out of her hand and reads it out loud.  A mad Victoria says:  "I have been grossly insulted."  Conroy writes a letter back to the King for Victoria.  Mom then makes her daughter write out the letter in her own hand and sign it.  The letter is sent to the King.  (But later Victoria writes another letter to the King denying the veracity of the first letter.)

Germany. Thuringian Forest, 1837.  Albert is not enthused about being Victoria's second-in-command, so to speak.  He's afraid of being her lackey. 

King William IV is dying and he soon dies.  The envoys (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) come to talk to Victoria, but Victoria's mother tries to stop them.  The envoys prevail and they speak with Victoria who is to be the Queen of England.  Victoria is very worried about Prime Minister Lord Melbourne.  She does not know the man at all.  She is told that there was a big scandal in the man's family.  His wife had an affair with Lord Byron and they were forced to separate. 

Victoria attends the meeting of the Privy Council.  She gives a very, very brief statement.  She is declared the Queen with the cheer:  "God save the Queen!"  Now that Victoria is the Queen, she moves her mother to the north wing, away from her.  Conroy is leaving, but he wants a peerage for the price of his resignation.  The man is called an "unprincipled adventurer".  The Prime Minister says that he will deal with Sir John, which is a great relief for Victoria.  Mom and Sir John come to see Victoria demanding certain concessions and rewards.  But Victoria just gets angry at Sir John and basically tells him to get out.  Seeing how angry and assertive Victoria is, her mother voluntarily leaves. 

King Leopold's Palace, Brussels, Belgium, 1839.  The Duke of Coburg speaks with the King personally.  Leopold agrees to help make Albert the husband of Victoria. 

Three months later.  Leopold and the Duke of Coburg talk to Victoria on behalf of Albert.  Victoria makes a lot of excuses to avoid the topic.  She says that she is much too busy and that she has resolved not to marry at all.  But the pressure continues to be applied and Victoria finally agrees to meet with Ernest and Albert.  When the two brothers arrive, she is awe-struck by Albert.  She tells him that he has changed so much.  He mentions that it has been three years.  Victoria is pretty aggressive now in pursuing Albert.  She and he play a piano duet. 

Victoria asks her personal secretary, a married woman, for marital advice.  Sex was such a difficult topic to speak about in those days and the secretary only tells the Queen what her mother told her:  "Let the man take the lead."  As for Albert, he says:  "I think she truly loves me."  But, he adds:  "I don't love her."

Three months later, Windsor Castle, 1839.  Victoria asks Albert to marry her.  He agrees.  They marry.

Albert wants to have a responsible position at court, but Victoria repeats the often-heard warning:  "Never let a foreigner have an important position at court.  The people won't stand for it."   This really frustrates Albert who says that his wife just does not see the situation from his point of view.  The Duke of Coburg asks him to have patience. 

Volume II.

An assassin tries to kill Victoria with a pistol.  Albert saves her life when the man gets very close to their carriage.   He slashes the would-be assassin across the face with his riding crop and he falls down in pain.  Victoria's mother says that Albert saved her daughter's life.  Despite the occurrence, Victoria insists on continuing to ride in an open coach.  She finds out that the would-be assassin was Edward Oxford, a madman.  He is placed in an asylum. 

Victoria is pregnant.  Rumors are that the government will soon fall.  The Queen expresses her great frustration with all the paper work involved with her position.  Albert suggest a better system of arrangement of the paper work: by degree of urgency.  Victoria likes the idea.

Some months later, 1840.  Victoria gives birth to a baby girl.  She says:  "One had hoped for a boy."  Mom comes in.  Victoria is opposed to the idea, but Albert intervenes on moms' behalf.  (He wants his wife and mother-in-law to reconcile.)  The head of household, Barroness Lehzen, is criticized because it is discovered that a street urchin has been entering the castle virtually every day and that he has even visited the young princess.   Victoria tells Albert that now he can run the household. 

Albert is shocked when he learns that a man in the household has a mistress.  He finds out, however, that Victoria already knows about it and is not shocked.  Albert insists the man has to go.  He then tells his wife that his father had never been faithful to his mother and that he was only five years of age when his mother left for good.  She died a few months later.  Victoria now knows why Albert was so insistent about the matter.  The man has to leave. 

The government is about to fall.  Sir Robert Peele will be the new Prime Minister.  And everyone knows that he will demand changes in the household.  The man wants Victoria to get rid of her personal secretary.  Victoria is determined to fight the Prime Minister for her secretary.  Albert secretly intervenes.  He arranges that the personal secretary's husband is given the ambassadorship to Vienna.  So when Peele speaks with Victoria, Victoria tells the Prime Minister that the personal secretary has unfortunately left with her husband for Vienna.  The showdown fight is avoided. 

Albert is worried about his own reaction to his marriage.  He asks his personal secretary, who had somewhat of an arranged marriage, if it is true about the saying:  "Marry first, fall in love later."  The secretary says that he came to have a deeper love for his wife after a time. 

Victoria has to say good-bye to former Prime Minister Melbourne.  She is very upset about seeing him leave and they both cry at their parting.  Before he leaves, he praises Albert, which makes Victoria very pleased.  Later Victoria gives birth to a prince, Albert Edward (known as Bertie).  Their daughter comes down with a serious fever and illness.  Albert believes that the doctor is not giving her the right medicine and he asks that the doctor to be taken off the case.  But Victoria explains that this would terribly upset the doctor and that she just cannot do it.  Albert becomes very angry and leaves Victoria to go to his room where he locks the door.  Victoria follows after him to scold him, but he won't let her in.  He won't let her come in to speak with him until she stops telling him that the Queen is at the door.  She softens and says it is his wife that would like to speak with him.  He lets her in and she apologizes.  Albert now officially takes over the running of the household.  Baroness Lehzen returns to Germany.  Victoria has Albert's desk brought into her room and placed directly across from her own desk.  Albert is very impressed by this generosity.

Ten years later, Windsor Castle, 1850.  Christmas time.  Prince Albert has popularized the German tradition of decorating a Christmas tree and the family enjoys the holiday very much.  Albert is overworking himself with the Great Exhibition of 1851.  With this task assigned to him, he finally is able to tell his wife that he loves her deeply.  At the opening ceremony the Queen thanks Albert for making the Great Exhibition so successful. 

Ten years later, 1861.  Albert continues to work too much and pays too little attention to his health.  A very vexing problem for the couple is their son Prince Albert.  The young man is constantly getting himself into trouble.  Furthermore he is idle and disobedient, always hunting and drinking.  Albert speaks with his son and urges him to "study".  Victoria is very upset that her son smokes a great deal.  She tells him that he has no sense of his duties. 

Does Bertie turn over a new leaf?  Not exactly.  He is seen going to cheap show-girl performances and going backstage to see the cuties after the performances.  The papers pick up the story and print it.  Albert is so worried that he travels to Cambridge University to have it out with his son.  He explains that he and his mother have worked so many years to improve the monarchy's reputation among the people and that he (Albert) has virtually wiped out all their work.  On the other hand, Albert apologizes to his son for being too severe with him. 

Albert returns home very sick.  He is constantly coughing.   Victoria is very worried about him, but he continues to work when he should be in bed.  The Christmas season arrives again.  Albert dies in his bed.  After the children have said good-bye to their father, Victoria goes back into his room by herself, locks the door and cries over her husband's body. 

Back to the present.  After her husband's death, Victoria ruled alone for 40 years.  She died January 22, 1901 after having ruled for almost 65 years. 

 

I loved the film.  A good, heart-warming love story.  My wife also liked the movie a lot.  There were many very moving scenes in the film.  Victoria Hamilton as Queen Victoria was very good.  Also good was Jonathan Firth as Prince Albert.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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