A dramatisation of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria’s rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by Julian Fellowes

Starring Emily Blount as Victoria & Rupert Friend as Albert


The Young Victoria is a period film written by Julian Fellowes and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée which focuses on the early reign of Queen Victoria and her marriage to Prince Albert. The film starred Emily Blount as Victoria and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert, as well as an array of British talent like Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter and Mark Strong, Eagle eyed viewers will also be able to spot Princess Beatrice of York, Victoria’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter, as one of Queen Victoria’s ladies at her coronation.

The idea for the film was first suggested by Sarah, Duchess of York, who has had life-long interest in the life of Queen Victoria, and it was pitched to producer Graham King who then brought Martin Scorsese onboard. Actor Julian Fellowes was hired to write the script for the film and he deliberately chose to end the film with the pending birth of Victoria and Albert’s first child rather than the death of the Prince Consort.

The story begins a year before the death of William IV with Victoria trapped between the machinations of John Conroy and her mother, and her uncle, Leopold of Belgium. Leopold is busy grooming Victoria’s first cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as her prospective husband. When Albert arrives in England, Victoria soon develops a fondness for him but is determined not to be pushed into marriage until she is ready. After Albert returns to Coburg, he and Victoria correspond with each other.

At his birthday reception, William IV publicly berates the Duchess of Kent for keeping Victoria away from court and vows to live until she turns eighteen so there will be no need for a regency. True to his word, William dies just after Victoria’s eighteenth birthday and she wastes no time in distancing herself from her mother and Conroy. Victoria moves into Buckingham Palace and begins to rely heavily on the advice of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne. When Albert visits, Victoria realises she still has feeling for him but is still not ready for marriage and he soon leaves again.

Victoria is dismayed when a series of scandals diminish her standing as queen and she begins to rely on Albert’s support. Victoria invites Albert back to England where she finally proposes they marry. The couple are blissfully happy until Albert becomes bored with a lack of direction. Victoria puts him in charge of the household where he immediately fires Conroy and blocks Melbourne’s access to the queen. Victoria and Albert quarrel when he replaces some of her ladies without asking her, however the tension is soon forgotten when Albert is wounded protecting her from an assassin while out on a carriage ride. Victoria vows to share more of her work with him and the couple are reconciled as they prepare for the birth of their first child.

While Fellowes was determined everything should be historically accurate, he did embellish certain events for dramatic purposes which is particularly evident when Albert is wounded saving Victoria’s life. However, Fellowes argues the scene worked better that way. The film also portrays Melbourne as a much younger man than in reality which would give their attachment to each other romantic overtones.

The costumes were made by award winning designer Sandy Powell who was given access to surviving garments worn by Queen Victoria, including her wedding dress and coronation robes. For the other costumes worn by Victoria, Powell took inspiration from paintings from the period and the young queen’s own diaries, however her efforts to create historically accurate costumes were thwarted by the lack of quality material as textiles are not made to the same standard these days. Victoria’s journey is reflected in the gowns she wears, moving from pastels with lace ruffles and puffed sleeves, to sleeker designs with darker colour tones. Powell would go on to win her third Academy Award and her second BAFTA for Best Costume Design for her work on the film.

The film received its world premiere on 5 February 2009 at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival and it was given its UK premiere in Leicester Square on 3 March that same year. Most reviews of the film were positive ones with the performances of Emily Blount and Rupert Friend being singled out as excellent.