Thus far VICTORIA has shown the young queen trying to find her footing as a ruling monarch, despite her young age and small stature working against her. As the latest episode commences, she’s trying not to be a queen but an “ordinary woman,” including stealing kisses with her betrothed. Even amongst the playful flirtations that Albert’s thoughtful and playful brother has arranged for the couple, it seems that reality must interfere as Albert continues to press Victoria on arranging an allowance and a title for him once they are married. All Victoria wants to do is play house as she wishes she were an “ordinary woman” that Albert could carry over the threshold. She’s also having trouble understanding why Albert is so insistent on having an allowance so that he doesn’t have to ask Victoria for money for things because she figures that her stuff is his stuff. The matter of finances and Albert’s role in England continues to be a major figure in the episode, as it was hinted out from the last one.
Although everyone seems to have accepted Victoria’s change of heart when it comes to marrying and marrying her cousin, her mother still hasn’t heard the news officially. Victoria is wary of telling her because it bothers her that her mother would claim credit for the match—although she pretty much can because everyone but Victoria saw it coming.
Below stairs, the servants are doling out candles but what’s really interesting is that I’ve finally realized why Skerrett is so shy about anyone getting close to her—she’s not really Skerrett, she just took over her life so that the other woman would be able to raise her child. But now she realizes that it also means giving up any future plans that would reveal her secret. And the reason the old butler speaks German is because he’s still carrying a torch for a maid in the German royal service. And the chef is making the elaborate wedding cake. There’s not too much to care about here, as always, which makes it frustrating that we don’t care about the lower classes and also that the below stairs moments take away from the real drama.
Despite Victoria seeming to be truly in love and happy with her decision to marry Albert, she still seems to feel a need to seek approval from Lord M. Meanwhile the German uncle is still harping on the subject of an allowance. And Victoria still isn’t understanding why all these things are important to Albert. Eventually, it becomes up to Lord M to explain to Victoria that her marriage still has to be approved by the official council, which includes her uncle from the other side that once tried to set her up with his obnoxious nephew and people that are from the opposing political party. It seems that not everybody is comfortable inviting a German into the realm even though Victoria points out that historically speaking, they’re all German. Lord M’s remark about public opinion not being logical seems very apt, not only for the show but for life and it’s a nice undercurrent. By contrast, Germans are very happy to have their royals marrying the richest Queen in the world. However, they aren’t happy that Albert is to receive less than half of what his uncle got when he married English royalty and that he won’t have a title. It turns out that Albert isn’t getting as much because his uncle is still drawing on his allowance and using it to keep his mistress—cutting into the budget for Albert. Mistresses are very common and Victoria comes to find out that even her own dearly departed father kept one. Which makes her concerned that Albert will keep one too, even if he doesn’t have one now.
It turns out that Albert is as inexperienced in love as Victoria, something that his brother tries to rectify by taking him to a brothel. Instead of taking advantage of the sex worker, Albert takes notes from her years of experience. Meanwhile, Victoria is busy planning the wedding—including ordering a white wedding gown be made up. It’s the queen’s famous contribution to fashion and a staple that continues to present day, despite it being the first of its kind. She also wears flowers in her hair and goes against the desires of the court to make Albert a knight of the garter, a high honor and the least she can do about a title. In between everything she’s very confused about the whole mistress thing, even asking her mother about mistresses. She also takes a bath in some kind of clothing, which I can’t figure out was for modesty on TV or historical accuracy, as it makes no sense either way and distracted me from the plot, which was already especially fluffy this week.
Eventually, it seems that everything has been worked out as much as it can be and Victoria is off to honeymoon with her new husband. Before she departs, she has a few words with Lord M, who seemed especially moody during the nuptials. She reminds him of her former words and what he told her and it’s all very subtle but kind of sweet that Lord M will always be her first love and she’ll never forget. It’s also kind of sweet, albeit a little creepy, that Lord M seems very happy to hear it. Although Lord M is definitely a more romantic, Byronic hero, knowing how old he is makes the whole romance less enjoyable—at leas for me. I prefer him in his father role, awkward moments and all—like explaining about mistresses.
It looks like romance is in the cards as Victoria and Albert tentatively hold hands in the carriage and get ready for their first night together as newlyweds. I appreciated the restraint in not showing exactly how eventful the night was and cutting away to show what else is happening as it gave the closing of the show a sense of privacy often lacking on TV today. But the episode was pretty silly, focusing mainly on Victoria’s preoccupation with Albert’s potential faithfulness rather than on anything more historically relevant, like how her people will react to their Queen’s new hubbie. But I guess that’s on the menu for next week, which will hopefully be a little more exciting than this week’s focus on the more mundane aspects of a nervous bride.
Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
Victoria airs Sundays at 9PM on PBS
Carly is a freelance writer that watches too much TV while she writes blogs and articles about lifestyle including travel, food, fashion, beauty, home decor, entertainment, health, fitness and wellness and green living.
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Carly Zinderman | Contributor