Victoria Recap: I Am So Vexed I Could Scream

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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.

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Victoria Recap: Have You Come to Give Me a Lesson in Government?

On Sunday night, the first two episodes of Victoria, “Doll 123” and “Ladies in Waiting,” premiered on PBS, filling the time slot left over when Downton Abbey ended last year. And it makes sense – both are British period dramas centered around a young, beautiful brunette who has no problem telling off the men that surround her. Only here, the main character is based on the very real Queen Victoria and not the fictional Lady Mary Crawley.

There’s been renewed interest in the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign, which began in 1837, most notably  2009’s The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt. These depictions seek to humanize a figure that has become best-known for being an overweight senior citizen shrouded in black, and whose reign has become synonymous with prudishness, longevity and the expansion of the British Empire in ways we now find politically and racially uncomfortable.

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But, as these depictions want to remind us, before she was a grandmother and a widow, she was an 18-year-old girl who left an overly sheltered existence as a princess in Kensington Palace to become the British queen, expected to go head-to-head with prime ministers, run a royal household and embody the institution of the monarchy. She was also – though the show hasn’t gotten there yet – a young woman desperately in love with her husband, who had a complicated relationship with motherhood. She was also jealous, domineering, stubborn and passionate. A lot to unpack there, and it’s not difficult to see why it’s tempting to want to take another look at her through a 21st-century lens.

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