Victoria the Great (1937)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Herbert Wilcox

Starring:     Anna Neagle (Queen Victoria), Anton Walbrook (Prince Albert), Walter Rilla (Prince Ernest), H.B. Warner (Lord Melbourne), Mary Morris (Duchess of Kent), James Dale (Duke of Wellington), Felix Aylmer (Lord Palmerston), Charles Carson (Sir Robert Peel), Gordon McLeod (John Brown), C.V. France (Archbishop of Canterbury), Arthur Young (Rt. Hon. William Gladstone). Greta SchrŲder (Baroness Lehzen), Paul Leyssac (Baron Stockmar), Derrick De Marney (Younger Disraeli), Hugh Miller (Older Disraeli)

This is the story of the courtship Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  The pair were devoted deeply to each other (perhaps even too deeply) and it is interesting to see the first phase of their life together. It was a big hit in Britain during George VI's Coronation Summer in 1937.  It was also a hit in the US.   Of course, it is a little dated now, but that is to be expected.

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

Windsor Castle. Tuesday, June 20th 1837. "It has pleased almighty God to release from his sufferings our most excellent and gracious sovereign King William IV. His Majesty expired at 12 minutes past 2 o'clock a.m. this day."

Two politicians are worried about a girl on the throne in Britain. The girl is only 18 years of age and she is dominated by Leopold of Belgium and Stockmar of Germany, as well as that German mother of hers.

Kensington Palace. The home and birthplace of Princess Victoria. [Set in Kensington Gardens, near Hyde Park, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.]

The politicians, Cunningham and the Archbishop of Canterbury arrive at the palace and want to see Princess Victoria. The mother comes out to talk to the men saying that they cannot say anything to the princess that they can better say to her. The men, however, insist on speaking to the Queen.

Victoria comes down to meet with the two men. They bring her the sad news that her Uncle, the King, is dead.

St. Jamesís Palace. [Once the official residence of the sovereign and the most senior royal palace in the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster.] Proclamation Day, June 21st 1837. God save the Queen! A big roar goes up from the people. The Queenís mother tells Victoria to listen to Baron Stockmar as she would King Leopold and follow his advice. He tells her to keep Lord Melbourne in charge of the government. Victoria remains quiet. She then tells the Prime Minister that she will retain him and his government.

Buckingham Palace. [Located in the city of Westminster, between Hyde Park to the northwest and St. Jamesís Park to the east.] Coronation Day, June 28th 1838. The sound of cannon awaken the Queen. She looks out the window to the hurrahs of the crowd waiting out side the palace gates.

Victoria is crowned the Queen.

Her Majestyís Theater, Hay Market. Lord Melbourne urges the Queen to marry and King Leopold has a good candidate: her cousin Albert. Victoria rejects Albert as a suitable candidate.

Rosenau Castle, Coburg. The home of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. [Located in the present States of Bavaria and Thuringia, Germany; it lasted from 1826 to 1918.] Brothers Ernst and Albert are studying English with their tutor. They have both been invited to visit the Queen of England. Albert says he shall not marry. He rejects the very thought of Victoria as being his wife.

Victoria tells Lord Melbourne that she wants to delay the coming of Albert and Franz. Lord Melbourne tells her that itís just as well, because Albert has also requested a postponement of their coming to London. Now Victoria gets a bit upset and asks why is Albert postponing the meeting?  Lord Melbourne tells her that Albert doesnít want to come. Victoria gets really peeved at this and tells Lord Melbourne that she now insists that Albert and his bother comes to see her soon.

Dover, October 10th, 1839. [About 77 miles southeast from Buckingham Palace.] Lord Melbourne waits to receive the princes, who are two hours late because of bad weather.

Victoria gets upset after waiting an entire hour before the presentation of the princes. So she goes out for her usual drive. When she returns she meets Ernest and Albert. The Queen seems to like the appearance of Albert in his military uniform, but Albert asks to have Lord Melbourne show him the art gallery. Victoria then intervenes and tells Lord Melbourne that it is her wish that Ernest be shown the art gallery first. So Ernest goes and Albert remains in the room.

When the two people are alone Victoria has Albert sit next to her on the couch. Albert is very stiff and Victoria tells him: "Courage, cousin. Iím not going to eat you."

Court Circular. Windsor Castle, October 11th, 1839. A dinner party is being held in honor of the two German princes. Mr. Johann Strauss of Vienna will again have the honor of appearing before Her Majesty.

Victoria dances with Ernest before Albert, which surprises Ernest. Albert watches them dance. He tells Lord Melbourne that he and his brother are leaving tomorrow for home. Melbourne is a bit shocked at this news. Victoria tells her messenger that she will now dance with Albert.

The two dance to a waltz by Strauss. Near the end the other dancers make room for the royal couple and only Victoria and Albert dance. The couple really enjoy each otherís company.

Later Victoria indicates to Lord Melbourne that she really likes this Albert fellow and she has made up her mind. Melbourne is thrilled to hear it.

Victoria knows that Albert couldnít propose to her, the Queen, so she will propose to Albert. She tells the butler to bring Albert to see her as soon as he sees Albert.

Albert comes into see Victoria. It doesnít take Victoria long to tell Albert that he has captured her heart. Soon they are married and off on the honeymoon. They leave on a steam locomotive train.

Albert is very interested in politics and government, but Victoria takes the stance that she will never speak about politics with her husband. She says itís much too dull a subject. Back at home Albert gets bored with nothing really useful to do. Lord Melbourne was a real support for Albert, but now he is no longer the prime minister. Robert Peel is now the prime minister.

Peel suggests to the Queen that she use her husband to help her with some of her work load, but Victoria says the people donít want any foreign interlopers interfering in British politics. Albert must stand aside in matters of state.

Since Albert canít talk politics with others, he plays music as a female sings for him. This leads to quite a few women gathering around Albert at the piano. This makes Victoria jealous and she says "we" shall retire. She goes to her room and then calls for Albert to come to her. Albert, however, smokes his pipe and keeps playing the piano.

Victoria has to come get Albert. She doesnít like it, but Albert sticks up for himself. So Victoria has to compromise. She starts giving him things to do that are important politically speaking.

Constitution Hill. The Queen and Albert take a spin in a carriage. A man tries to shoot the Queen with a pistol, but Albert places his body in front of his wife to make sure she is not shot. The shot goes through Albertís top hat. This makes Victoria even love him more than ever.

November 9th, 1841. Victoria gives birth to a baby boy, the Prince of Wales.

People are shouting at the palace about food for the people. With the encouragement of the Queen, Robert Peel will ask for the repeal of the protectionist Corn Laws. So now Peel will speak out for free trade. He mentions this will give Disraeli a real shot in the political arm.

The House of Commons. May 15th 1846. Disraeli says itís a betrayal. Peel gets up to defend himself. He says he has changed his position to help the nation out of a bad situation.

Peel won. "With the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, England prospered and throughout the follow years Victoria and Albert stood together for peace."

"Alone among her great ministers Lord Palmerston opposed them and his policy was as popular at home as it was feared abroad."

"The Crimean War in 1854 was followed by the horrors of the Indian Mutiny three years: later. Then in 1861 with dramatic suddenness came Palmerstonís dictatorial threat of war with the federal government of the United States."

No. 10 Downing Street. The Southern states of the United States tried to get two men through to Europe to plead their cause to the Europeans. The rebels got through the Northern blockade and they boarded the British ship the Trent. The American ship fired a shot across the bow of the ship, boarded the ship and took the Southerners into their custody. Palmerston is going to send a sharply worded protest to the American government to teach the Yankees a lesson. Besides, the royal couple are in Balmoral, in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland at the castle there.

At Balmoral they are having a party. The Queen joins in an old Scottish dance. While she dances, a messenger hands Prince Albert a message. The message says: "It is therefore only too evident that nothing save Your Majestyís direct intervention can prevent Lord Palmerston from forwarding this dispatch which might well result in plunging us into war with the United States Government."

After the dance, the Prince shows the Queen the message. They both agree that they must go back to London.

Back home the royal couple speak with Palmerston. They say his ill-conceived letter threatens to throw Britain into a war with the United States. And the British people will have to die because of Palmerstonís mistake.

Palmerston defends himself saying that the people see the Prince as a foreign interloper and the Queen as his pawn and the people are outraged over this recent American challenge to the honor of the United Kingdom. This just makes the Queen and Prince angry. She tells Palmerston straight up that the dispatch in question will not be sent to the Americans. From now on no dispatches will go out without being checked first by the Prince and the Queen. Victoria feels so strongly about the matter that she says she would even be willing to abdicate the throne over the subject.

Palmerston backs down and says a new dispatch will be in to the royal couple by this evening.

The Prince works on rewording the dispatch late into the evening. The Queen gets very worried about him and notes that he has a fever and is shivering.

Palmerston foolishly mentions to an ally that this may mean the final dissolution of the United States.

Washington, D.C. Lincoln tells his cabinet that the letter from Britain is friendly and courteous.

Windsor Castle, Dec. 14, 1861. The Prince is still ill and the Queen, who has been married to him for 21 years, is very concerned about him. Victoria goes into see him and finds that he is talking in a stage of delirium. As she tells him that the doctor has said that the Prince is past the worst of it, the Prince dies. Victoria is shocked and starts to cry.

"And with his passing, the heart that she had so completely given up to him died too, and for many years she lived at Windsor in broken-hearted retirement that many of her people and even some of her ministers could not understand."

Sir Charles Dilke launches a bitter attack on the Queen and delivers a scathing denunciation of the cost of Crown and Court. Joe Chamberlain favors establishing an English Republic.

The Widow of Windsor, Victoria the Queen. The Scotsman, John Brown, seems to be about her only steady companion these days. Brown kind of runs the household.

Prime Minister Gladstone comes to speak with the Queen. He wants her to start attending the public appearances she used to do with her husband. Gladstone tells her that the living have as much claim on her time as do the dead. He also asks the Queen if her complete withdrawal from public live was the wish of her beloved Albert? The Queen doesnít answer that question and Gladstone withdraws.

Alone Victoria thinks of the various statements Albert made about his role. One of the things he said was that he always tried to do his best. The Queen says she too will try to do her best to do her duties.

1877. "Faithful to his memory, to his spirit of service, her indomitable will marched on. Nothing could take from her the innate sense of ruling that was to guide her through the most glorious period in the history of the British Empire."

St. Paulís Cathedral, June 22nd, 1897. "The day of Queen Victoriaís Diamond Jubilee, when from every corner of the British Empire, her people gathered to give thanks for the sixty years of her glorious reign."

The Queen parades by in her carriage and the people wish her well. She stops before St. Paulís Cathedral. Among other songs, the people and choir sing "God Save the Queen". Victoria tells Albert: "We have done our best."

 

Good movie about the great love story between Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert.  The film focuses mostly of Victoria land Albert but a similar film appeared in the following year of 1938 known as Sixty Glorious Years with less material on the love story and more material on the Queen's accomplishments. The two films compliment each other.  The main actress and actor star in both film. 

Patrick Louis Cooney,  Ph.D. 

 


Historical Background:

 

See Sixty Glorious Years (1938).

 

 

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