Same, Victoria, same. Well, it’s happened. In the span of one episode Albert went from her rude, dull first cousin to our favorite British queen’s fiance. This episode also served as a good reminder of why I really don’t like Prince Albert, so, in that sense, well done Victoria – you’ve captured his essence perfectly.
Let’s get into it, shall we? Episode 4, “The Clockwork Prince,” begins where the last one left off, in the drawing room with Prince Albert walking up to the Queen to turn the page of her piano music for her. Dash immediately starts barking to which I say, good for Dash. He is a rival for Victoria’s affection and maybe also a tyrant. Dogs are never wrong. Anyway, Victoria isn’t feeling it, so when it’s suggested that she show Albert and his brother, Ernest, around she uses Lord Melbourne to get out of it with some urgent dispatches that require her “full attention.” I like this excuse. I’m going to use it going forward.
Uncle Leopold (Oh right, he’s still here) debriefs with his nephews. No, he says, Ernest, though better with women, can’t swoop in to woo Victoria instead. This is Albert’s destiny. So, basically, Albert has been chilling in Coburg waiting to get his Mrs. degree. Or he’s like Kate Middleton circa 2006 (yes, that was mean). Anyway, HOW embarrassing for a man that thinks so highly of his own intellect. “You’ll be the King of England!” Leopold tells him. “No, I’ll be the Queen of England’s husband,” he responds. How prescient.
Victoria, for her part, says of her cousin, “He never smiles. I wonder if he can.” Honestly, who knows? But photographs from his life indicate no.
The next day Victoria is reviewing new stamps commissioned with her portrait on them (#baller) and wondering whether anyone who wants to send a letter will have to lick her face. Well, yes, though the more genteel with use a little brush. This absolutely tickles her, though it’s worth noting that the same cannot be said for the real Queen Victoria who was decidedly not amused by her likeness making contact with so many foreign tongues. Quite right, ma’am. Albert is also not amused – Victoria isn’t showing the proper appreciation for the postal service. Albert is lame.
In their next interaction Victoria asks her cousins how their tour of the National Gallery went (they’re being quite the tourists). Albert, with as much disdain as his mustachioed self can muster, tells her that they focused on the Dutch masters, Rubens in particular. Victoria, no novice of disdain herself, responds, “I don’t care for Rubens at all. All that wobbling flesh.” Then she walks away.
After dinner, Albert asks Lord M if he and his brother might be able to visit Parliament. You see, they don’t have anything like it in Coburg. Sure, sure, says Lord M, but maybe come incognito. You know, because you’re a German prince and the British MPs don’t really want you lurking about. “What do you think?” Albert asks. “I think it’s time we join the ladies,” Lord M responds. I love Lord M.
Anyway, to the drawing room they go. The Duchess of Kent leans over to her brother, Leopold, and whispers that Albert reminds him of a younger version of him. THAT IS NOT A RINGING ENDORSEMENT, DUCHESS. Then they force the two lovebirds/first cousins to do a Schubert duet during which Albert tells her that her hands are too small, the piece will be too hard for her, she’s playing too quickly and that practicing an hour each day would really improve her technique. I’m sorry, is Albert…negging the Queen of England?
Later on, Leopold asks, in full sincerity, if there’s been a proposal yet. I know we established last week that Belgium is no Britain, but it is on Earth, right?
But I think Albert in a nutshell is when in response to being asked if he is enjoying the garden, says, “I prefer forests.” Boy bye.
Except that’s not what happens. Instead he and Victoria end up dancing at a ball and Victoria, for reasons unknown (#daddyissues), decides to fall in love with him. She gives him a flower (first given to her by Lord M, who watches this all unfold, sadly) and he responds by ripping open a portion of his shirt to keep it closer to his heart. It’s weird. But also not factually incorrect, God help us all.
Victoria orders court to Windsor to please her new boyfriend/first cousin. They take a walk in the estate’s forest and Albert finds they pass muster. He tells her he likes her hair unbound; he shares the sad story of his mother (which is more or less true); he saves her dog by ripping up another one of his shirts. Thank God he’s about to marry the Queen of England because that man must run up an expensive shopping budget. Like, sure, I get how a really angsty pre-teen might find his shtick compelling, and Victoria was still playing with dolls a few episodes ago, so maybe this does it for her.
Anyway, the entire outing naturally ends in an argument and Victoria shuts it down with, “While you were looking at paintings, I was ruling this country.” That’s my girl!
Then she tells him she doesn’t need him to tell her what to think. He responds, “No. That’s Lord Melbourne’s job.” Aaaand now they’re in a straight up fight.
Later on, she complains to her former governess, Baroness Lehzen, about it, and Lehzen says what everyone should be thinking, “I don’t think Prince Albert shows you enough respect.” This is an accurate statement.
And Lord M, nearly gone but not yet forgotten, gallantly steps out of the way. Victoria tells him Albert thinks she relies on him too much. “What do you think?” he asks her. Thank God somebody is. “I don’t know,” she answers. Well, that’s the problem, dear.
But Lord M solves the issue by going to Albert and telling him that he won’t be Victoria’s Prime Minister forever. Indeed, already she has learned how to be queen and is thinking for herself. It’s time for me to retire soon, he says. Albert is relieved.
So, the proposal. Victoria does it (which, again, is historically accurate. As queen she had to be the one to make the offer) and Albert accepts. They agree they’re in love and their marriage is one of inconvenience, as opposed to an arranged match. End scene.
I think it goes without saying I’m skipping the servants’ B plot because I don’t care.
Tl;dr? Albert kind of sucks.
Read a recap of Episode 5 here