Rightly or wrongly, when I was at school it was not compulsory for me to study History beyond the 3rd year. Because I was terrified of the History teacher, Miss Littleboy, I ducked out at age 13 and opted instead for the mysteries of oxbow lake formation in Geography. As a result, my overall grasp of history is at best patchy and, at worse, virtually non-existent. ‘The Young Victoria‘ offered an opportunity to fill one of the many gaping holes in my knowledge, as it focuses on the early life of Queen Victoria. I knew next to nothing about England’s longest-reigning monarch, other than she loved her husband deeply and remained in mourning for him from the date of his death until her own, 40 years later.
Beginning with Victoria’s isolated upbringing in Kensington Palace, the film follows Victoria’s ascension to the throne at 18, her courtship and marriage to Albert, up to the birth of the first of their nine children in 1840. Emily Blunt captures Victoria’s strength of character as the young monarch takes her first tentative steps in her regal shoes, discovering friends and allies as well as flushing out her detractors.
I assume the film is historically accurate and it is simply sumptuous to watch; it won the Oscar and 4 further major awards for its costume design. What I most enjoyed though, was the portayal of the love between the young Queen and her Prince. Their match was politically expedient (Albert was Victoria’s first cousin, and nephew of Leopold, King of the Belgians) but their meetings, subsequent courtship through letters, and the early days of their marriage are shown as a mutually satisfying, loving relationship. Although young, the couple soon assume the responsibilities of monarchy, Victoria eventually allowing her consort to assist her in her role.
Today is Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t really expecting this film to be a love story – but it is, and it is beautifully done.