THE CLOCKWORK PRINCE
Prince Albert arrives in England for the first time and he and Victoria take an instant dislike to one another in an awkward first meeting. However, their disdain passes and an attraction grows – to Melbourne’s dismay.
Directed by Sandra Goldbacher. Written by Daisy Goodwin.
The Clockwork Prince
Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is annoyed by Albert’s interruption and even less happy when he criticises her playing ability, however Ernst (David Oakes) immediately salvages the situation by complimenting Victoria. A flustered Victoria comments on how much Albert (Tom Hughes) has changed since their last visit and the rest of the ladies seem to be very taken with Ernst. Ernst informs Victoria that Albert has been in Italy and is keen to see the works of Leonardo da Vinci she has, however it is obvious Victoria is clueless about what art she owns. She tells Albert she will be far too busy with Melbourne (Rufus Sewell) to show him anything. Albert is unimpressed by Victoria’s lack of knowledge and believes he is wasting his time with her.
Later, Uncle Leopold (Alex Jennings) and Ernst berate Albert for being ungallant and encourage him to be more attentive towards Victoria. For her part, Victoria complains to Lehzen (Daniela Holtz) that Albert treated her like a child and he should smile more.
The following day, Victoria is looking at proof sheets for the new penny stamp and is amused people will have to lick her face to adhere the stamp to their letters. Everyone in the room laughs at Victoria’s observation, except for Albert who pompously states the stamp is a remarkable invention more worthy of praise than mirth. On the balcony, Victoria complains to Melbourne that Albert is a prig and she would rather marry Robert Peel.
Albert takes the opportunity to wander around London with his brother and is intrigued by the new technique of photography, however he is also appalled by the poverty he witnesses when he sees a little girl selling matches. At dinner, Victoria questions the Coburg brothers on how they spent their day but Albert remains silent leaving Ernst to fill in the gaps. The topic of conversation soon turns to art but Victoria shows a lack of interest and retires from the table. Albert turns his attention to Melbourne, expressing an interest in visiting Parliament, but Melbourne tells him he would have to visit incognito as the MPs would not care to be inspected by a German prince.
When the men join the ladies, Victoria invites Melbourne to join her in a card game but when Melbourne in turn invites the princes to join them, Albert declines and it is left to Ernst to smooth over the awkwardness again. Albert settles at the piano which soon distracts Victoria from her game. Ernst asks Victoria to join Albert in a Schubert duet and she reluctantly acquiesces. As Victoria joins Albert on the stool, all eyes are on them as they begin to play rather more competitively than the piece demands. Albert compliments Victoria on her playing which pleases her but then he spoils it by saying she does not practice enough. Victoria reminds him a queen does not have time to play scales every day but Albert infers she has plenty of time to play cards.
The following morning, Victoria is playing the piano when Uncle Leopold reminds her as a monarch she is the one who has to do the proposing but she declares Albert has no manners and they are not suited. While Albert is being shaved by his valet, Ernst enters his room revealing he spent the night at a brothel which annoys his brother. Ernst responds by telling his brother the sooner he sorts out the situation with Victoria, the quicker they can return to Coburg where there is less temptation. Albert declares it is complicated and Victoria seems to like spending more time with her dog than her own mother but he is fooling no one as Ernst points out how well they played their duet together.
The brothers retreat into the garden where Victoria is strolling with the Duchess of Sutherland (Margaret Clunie) and Ernst contrives to engage Harriet in conversation so Albert and Victoria can be alone. Victoria asks Albert if he likes gardens but he prefers forests to which Victoria responds by telling him he should visit Windsor. As the pair come across the Duchess of Kent (Catherine Flemming) painting, Albert compliments her and ignores Victoria much to her chagrin. Victoria accuses Albert of being a flatterer but Albert argues he does not say things he does not mean and she should be nicer to her mother. Victoria tartly responds by telling him he knows nothing about their situation but Albert reminds her he does not have a mother.
Victoria hosts a dance at the palace for her Coburg cousins and enjoys dancing with Ernst, while an uncomfortable Albert stays on the sidelines. Emma Portman (Anna Wilson-Jones) tells Melbourne the Queen seems to be enjoying dancing with Ernst who is far more charming than his brother and Melbourne likens Albert to a clockwork prince. As Albert gazes at Victoria, Melbourne wonders if he sees her as a woman or the most eligible match in Europe. Ernst encourages Albert to dance a waltz with Victoria and it is obvious there is a growing attraction between them. Albert confesses he does not like dancing because he finds it difficult to find his rhythm but he is having no trouble with Victoria. Albert is distracted by the corsage Victoria is wearing telling her it reminds him of when his mother used to come into his room to kiss him goodnight. Victoria gives the corsage to Albert who uses a penknife to slash his shirt so he can place it near his heart. The corsage, a gardenia from Brocket Hall, was a gift from Melbourne and he looks on in consternation.
The following day, a giddy Victoria declares they should all go to Windsor and orders Lehzen to make the arrangements. As Victoria is leaving the palace, Melbourne arrives but she informs him they are all going to Windsor and he should join them there for dinner. Melbourne tries to make excuses not to go but is overruled.
At Windsor, the Coburg brothers are provided with the Windsor uniform to wear at dinner, although neither are delighted at the prospect. Uncle Leopold is dismayed when Melbourne turns up in the Windsor uniform and by Victoria’s eagerness to have him there, however when Albert arrives Victoria immediately takes him aside to view a Rembrandt. Later, Victoria asks Melbourne if he has read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and Melbourne responds by saying he has no desire to read about thieves. Albert interjects by saying he believes Dickens writes with great accuracy about the conditions endured by the poor and is surprised Melbourne does not wish to know the truth about the country he governs.
The following day, the royal party goes riding but Albert has gone ahead as he is an early riser. Victoria wonders why Ernst is so easygoing in comparison to his brother but Ernst tells her Albert is worth ten of him. When Albert arrives, Ernst suddenly remembers a previous engagement and Victoria is left alone with Albert. Victoria and Albert explore the forest together and almost kiss but the moment passes. Albert tells Victoria about how his mother was made to leave home when she fell in love with an equerry and he never saw her again. At that moment, Dash gets caught in a trap and breaks his leg prompting Victoria to reveal the dog was her only friend growing up. Albert says she has other friends now and she mentions Melbourne. Albert tells Victoria she spends too much time with Melbourne and accuses the prime minister of not caring about his constituents. An angry Victoria tells Albert he has no right to judge her or Melbourne as he has only been in the country a short time.
The royal party returns to Buckingham Palace but it is obvious there is renewed tension between Albert and Victoria. Uncle Leopold urges Victoria to propose to Albert but she is not sure whether he wants to marry her anymore. Albert tells Ernst he is returning to Coburg because he believes marriage to Victoria would be a mistake. Albert leaves to attend Parliament while Victoria asks Melbourne if they spend too much time together and confesses she really just wants Albert to smile at her.
Victoria takes great care with her evening toilette and asks her maid to place gardenias in her hair before requesting a meeting with Albert. When Albert arrives, Victoria nervously asks him to marry her and he accepts. Albert tells Victoria this is not a marriage of convenience for him and she agrees saying it is a marriage of inconvenience. They kiss passionately.
- Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Albert’s mother, was only sixteen when she married Ernst III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, on 31 July 1817. Louise gave birth to her two sons in quick succession but the marriage was an unhappy one as Ernst was incapable of being faithful. The couple separated in 1824 after Louise was discovered having an affair and she was forced to leave the family home. After the divorce was finalised in 1826, Louise secretly married her lover but the scandal prompted her to lose her children permanently. Louise died of cancer on 30 August 1831, aged just thirty years old.
- Albert’s brother, Ernst, was promiscuous like his father and suffered from venereal diseases throughout out his life. He was said to be looking remarkably unwell during his visit to England with Albert in 1839. Albert developed an abhorrence for casual sex after his father insisted on taking his sons to brothels in Paris.
- Albert’s visit took place entirely at Windsor Castle in 1839 and Victoria is said to have fallen in love with “her angel” on the staircase upon his arrival. Albert was suffering from seasickness and wasn’t at his best.
- Victoria proposed to Albert on 15 October 1839, within three days of his arrival, and the engagement was announced to the Privy Council on 23 November.