AN ORDINARY WOMAN
Melbourne warns Victoria that Parliament will not be happy to see her marry a German prince, a prediction that proves accurate when the Privy Council refuse to grant Albert a royal title prompting worries for both Victoria and Albert.
Directed by Sandra Goldbacher. Written by Daisy Goodwin.
An Ordinary Woman
After arriving at the palace, Ernst (David Oakes) occupies Harriet Sutherland (Margaret Clunie) while Albert (Tom Hughes) and Victoria (Jenna Coleman) spend time together before the brothers have to leave for Coburg. As they kiss passionately, Victoria wishes she was an ordinary woman so she could go to Coburg with Albert and have him carry her over the threshold. Albert reminds her she is not an ordinary woman but a queen. As Albert and Victoria stroll around the gardens unchaperoned, Albert brings up the subject of finances but Victoria assures him everything she has will also belong to him.
Albert and Victoria have yet to announce their engagement but their closeness has not gone unnoticed by Uncle Leopold (Alex Jennings) and Baroness Lehzen (Daniela Holtz). Back at the palace, Ernst teases Albert by asking if he has kissed Victoria yet but Albert tells him it is none of his business. Ernst laughs and says that means no but Albert’s smug smile says otherwise. Uncle Leopold interrupts by informing Albert the real work is yet to be done and the impressionable Victoria must be moulded to their views but Albert says he just wants to be a good husband. Uncle Leopold retorts that any man can keep a wife happy if he pays her enough attention and keeps his other women out of sight. Uncle Leopold tells Albert he needs to establish his place in the household with a title and an allowance.
Victoria informs Melbourne she is to marry Albert and the prime minister offers his congratulations, however they are interrupted by Uncle Leopold who also congratulates Victoria before badgering Melbourne about Albert’s allowance. A confused Victoria says it does not matter because she has everything Albert will ever need. The following day, Albert and Ernst depart for Coburg.
Victoria announces her impending marriage to the Privy Council but the Duke of Wellington (Peter Bowles) questions whether Albert is really a Protestant which prompts Victoria to leave the Throne Room in fury. It is left to Melbourne to explain to Victoria the match with Albert will not be popular since he is German. An incensed Victoria points out the absurdity of the situation since most of her family are German. She demands Melbourne sort out Albert’s allowance and title before the prince returns for the wedding. At Rosenau, Albert is congratulated by his father (Andrew Bicknell) who is looking forward to their increase in fortune but Albert is uncomfortable with the topic.
In Parliament, the discussion over Albert’s allowance becomes heated as Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay) wonders how many other German princes are going to grow fat from England’s riches. He suggests Albert be given £20,000 a year which is significantly lower than the £50,000 rewarded to Uncle Leopold when he married Princess Charlotte. Furthermore, Peel also raises concerns Albert will be given a title which will enable him to interfere with the running of the country.
Back at the palace, Melbourne informs Victoria that Parliament has decided to award £30,000 per annum to Albert which annoys Victoria as it is almost half what her uncle received. Melbourne points out Leopold did not spend his money wisely and should have been more discreet which confuses Victoria. Melbourne has to explain to Victoria that Leopold is using his allowance to keep an actress and her household. Victoria is appalled but is even more alarmed when Melbourne suggests Albert may end up having secrets of his own after their marriage. Victoria insists Albert is different.
Victoria writes to Albert telling him the news and assures him he will want for nothing but Albert has no intention of being a kept man. While bathing, Victoria worries Albert will not be happy but Lehzen says marrying Victoria should be enough and young men have no need of money unless they are up to no good. Lehzen then drops hints about Ernst’s lifestyle but refuses to explain when Victoria questions her. Later, Victoria and her ladies, along with Lord Alfred (Jordan Waller), are making plans for the wedding when Harriet asks who will give her away and Victoria considers her uncle, Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, who is a little eccentric. When the topic turns to mistresses and illegitimate children, an embarrassed Victoria changes the subject by announcing she wants her dress to be white.
Back in Coburg, Ernst decides to further Albert’s education by taking him to a brothel where he is encouraged to spend an hour with Gretchen (Carolin Stoltz) who will teach him how to be a better husband. However, Albert is not interested in having sex with Gretchen but still wishes her to share her knowledge with him. He asks for paper and a pen so he can make notes.
In London, a shocked Victoria asks her mother if she knew Uncle Leopold had a mistress and the Duchess (Catherine Flemming) looks at her pityingly. Victoria is even more shocked when her mother reveals the Duke of Kent had a mistress prior to their marriage and suggests Lehzen has failed to teach her charge the ways of men. Victoria asks her mother if she believes Albert has a mistress to which the Duchess replies not yet.
The following day, Victoria asks Melbourne if he knew about her father’s mistress and he tells her the Duke of Kent and Mme St Laurent were devoted to each other which does not please Victoria. At that moment, the Lord Chamberlain (Simon Paisley Day) arrives to note Victoria’s wishes for the wedding and she announces she wants a small affair with a wedding breakfast afterwards. The Lord Chamberlain snootily informs her royal weddings usually take place in the evening so the courtiers can escort the couple to bed. At Victoria’s horrified expression, Melbourne hastily explains times were different back then. The Lord Chamberlain also suggests Victoria omit the words “to obey” from her vows and passes her a list of suitable candidates for bridesmaids. Victoria studies the list and informs the Lord Chamberlain that Albert wants young ladies from families with unblemished backgrounds which amuses Melbourne.
In Coburg, Ernst and Albert reminisce about their mother and Ernst reveals he once saw her from a distance long after she had left them which reduces Albert to tears. Ernst tells Albert he will miss him greatly but Albert is lucky because he will always have Victoria and she will never leave him. Albert, Ernst and their father depart for London.
At Buckingham Palace, a nervous Victoria greets her Coburg visitors in the Throne Room but she only has eyes for Albert who approaches her last. Victoria informs Albert she is going to make him a Knight of the Garter which surprises Albert as he was under the impression he was to receive no titles. Victoria explains this title is hers to bestow and Uncle Leopold interrupts to explain he was made a Knight of the Garter on the eve of his wedding to Charlotte and it is a great honour.
Later, Albert whispers to Victoria how much he is looking forward to their honeymoon but she informs him they will only have two days to spend alone before she must return to state business. Albert can barely hide his disappointment but can say nothing more before Melbourne arrives to introduce him to George Anson (Robert MacPherson) who will be acting as the prince’s secretary. Albert is not pleased Melbourne has chosen his secretary for him but Victoria tells him he needs an English secretary to help him understand their ways. Albert excuses himself, claiming tiredness from the journey, but Victoria accuses him of being peevish. Their argument begins to attract the attention of the others and Victoria dismisses Albert.
After their argument, Victoria fears Albert will seek out an actress to be his mistress but Melbourne tells her she is being silly and the prince has more integrity. Victoria goes in search of Albert in the gardens and she demands to know whether Albert wants an allowance so he can keep a mistress. Albert tells her she is being foolish and she is the only woman he will ever want. Albert tries to make her understand he just wants something of his own so he can do good things. A tearful Victoria tells Albert she intends to vow to obey him as a wife and he is moved by her words. As they kiss, Lehzen and Melbourne watch from a window and Lehzen remarks they have been replaced.
As Victoria dresses for her wedding, crowds of people gather outside Buckingham Palace and she is moved by their chants of God Save The Queen. At the Chapel Royal, Albert is accompanied down the aisle by Ernst and the Duke of Wellington cattily remarks how he walks like a papist. Melbourne, carrying the Sword of State, walks in front of Victoria who is being escorted down the aisle by the Duke of Sussex (David Bamber). After the vows have been exchanged, the couple return to the palace for the wedding breakfast where Victoria thanks Melbourne for everything he has done for her and says her farewells. Albert and Victoria head to Windsor Castle for their honeymoon while Ernst seeks companionship of a less savoury sort.
- Victoria and Albert were married on 10 February 1840 in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace, London, however Victoria was troubled by a dreadful headache on her wedding night. She seems to have recovered long enough to have had a blissful night with Albert though.
- While Victoria was not the first bride to wear white, her choice of colour was still unconventional as royal brides generally opted for expensive material in silver or gold. Victoria started a trend which is still prevalent to this day and white soon became a symbol of a bride’s purity.
- Victoria’s wedding cake was made by John Mauditt rather than Charles Elmé Francatelli who did not arrive at the palace until March 1840.
- While Albert eventually replaced Melbourne as the most influential figure in Victoria’s life, his position in her household would not be resolved for some time. The marriage was initially unpopular as Albert was an impoverished prince from a minor kingdom and he was deemed unworthy to marry Victoria. Albert was deliberately excluded from a peerage as Parliament did not want a German in a position of political power and he would not be created Prince Consort until 1857.
- Leopold I of Belgium was granted an allowance of £50,000 per annum when he married Princess Charlotte in May 1816 and he was allowed to keep it after her untimely death in November 1817. In 1828, Leopold began having an affair with Caroline Bauer, a German actress, who was said to look like Charlotte and Leopold set her up with a residence at Longwood House. The liaison only lasted a short time, after which Caroline returned to Berlin with her mother. After ascending the Belgian throne, Leopold married Louise Marie of Orléans and they had four children together. Leopold did not meet his longterm mistress, Arcadie Claret, until about 1842 and she would remain with him for more than twenty years.
- The Duke of Kent had several mistresses during his lifetime, however he had a longterm liaison with Madame de Saint-Laurent, the wife of a French colonel. Known as Julie de Saint-Laurent, she was the Duke’s companion for twenty-eight years until he was required to marry in 1818. Madame de Saint-Laurent retreated to Paris where she lived out her days amongst her family and friends. Although there is no record of any children being born, many Canadians claim to be descendants of the couple from the time the Duke was stationed in Quebec.
- The Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III in 1348, is regarded as the most prestigious British order of chivalry and appointments are made at the Sovereign’s sole discretion. Membership is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and no more than 24 living members or companions, however there are several supernumerary members consisting of the royal family and foreign monarchs.