The Young Victoria
I imagine that most of our images of Queen Victoria are of an older, rotund, dour looking woman. The main pleasure of the new film, The Young Victoria, is seeing Victoria as a beautiful young woman who learns how to rule. The lovely young actress Emily Blunt gives a fine performance as Victoria. When we first meet her, Victoria is an 18 year old woman who knows she will soon inherit the throne. It seems that everyone around her is trying to court her favor. Victoria rightly feels that many are attempting to manipulate her, including her own mother, the Duchess of Kent, along with her partner Sir John Conroy. The Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), gains Victoria’s trust, although he is not without his own self-interest in his relationship with the young Queen.
In the midst of the power struggles is the developing love story between Victoria and her German cousin, Albert (Rupert Friend). Albert is originally sent to visit Victoria by their uncle, King Leopold of Belgium. But over time, the two do indeed fall in love and marry. The love of Victoria and Albert becomes one of the great love stories of the 19th Century. The film shows us that, like any other couple, Victoria and Albert had to grow into their marriage. Like any couple, Albert and Victoria must learn the husband and wife roles in their marriage. In addition, they have to do this as very public, very powerful couple. All their words and actions are subject to public, and even political, scrutiny. Sadly, that hasn’t changed; it’s only become worse, as shown by the lives of Princess Diana, and many others in recent years.
The Young Victoria is visually beautiful, with the splendor of a coronation and a royal wedding. Not being well-versed in early 19th Century British history, I did find it difficult to keep up with all the characters and their power struggles. Despite this, the movie succeeds in the relationship between Victoria and Albert. Victoria comes to know and trust Albert as husband, companion, and political partner, making good use of his considerable gifts. Knowing this story of their early years together, it’s easier to understand their great love and partnership, and how Victoria would grieve Albert’s loss after 19 years of marriage.
Tom Condon, OP