THE QUEEN’S HUSBAND
Feeling he needs a greater role in public affairs, Albert becomes involved in the anti-slavery movement.
Directed by Oliver Blackburn. Written by Daisy Goodwin.
The Queen’s Husband
Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Albert (Tom Hughes) are snuggled in bed when Lehzen barges into the room much to Albert’s annoyance who reminds Victoria he is the only one she needs now.
The newlyweds are strolling in the gardens when Albert expresses misgivings about the state dinner to be held that evening and Victoria tells him it is important to establish his right of precedence by her side. Albert is currently outranked by Victoria’s uncles which means they should precede him into dinner, however as her husband, Victoria insists Albert should take his place by her side. Albert changes the topic to children and tells Victoria he can’t wait for them to become a real family but Victoria is in no hurry as childbirth is a dangerous business.
The state boxes arrive at Buckingham Palace for Victoria’s attention but she refuses Albert’s help and sends him away to play piano which doesn’t please him. Anson (Robert MacPherson) approaches the prince and asks him if he would like to send out acknowledgments for their wedding gifts and promptly hands him a list. As Albert wanders around the palace, he grows increasingly concerned about the cleanliness until Victoria asks him to join her. Albert watches as Victoria signs papers and she asks him to blot her signature.
At the state dinner, Victoria reminds Albert he is to enter the dining room by her side but he is displaced by the Duke of Sussex (David Bamber) who insists it is his place as a Prince of the Blood to escort Victoria. Victoria argues her husband should be by her side but the Duke insists the rules are there for a reason and she surrenders to his wishes. Albert, visibly upset, escorts the Duchess of Kent (Catherine Flemming) who tells Albert everything will change when he has a son. Later that evening, Victoria tells Albert she will resolve the situation.
The following day, a troubled Albert is playing the piano when Ernst (David Oakes) comes into the room and advises his brother to ignore the protocol and to concentrate on producing an heir. Albert reiterates he needs to find a place for himself in the household while Victoria discusses Uncle Sussex with Emma Portman (Anna Wilson-Jones). Emma informs Victoria her uncle has been married for many years but since the marriage contravened the Royal Marriages Act, Lady Cecilia cannot be received at court.
Albert joins Victoria at an audience with Mr Buxton (Terence Beesley) of the Anti-Slavery Society and he invites the Queen to open the convention they are holding which will include African American speakers. While Victoria and Albert both find slavery abhorrent, Victoria reminds Buxton as a sovereign she must remain impartial and cannot open the convention due to protocol. Later, Albert informs Victoria he will be attending the convention in her stead as he is not bound by the same rules. Albert writes a speech in German and asks Anson to translate it into English for him. Despite Albert’s initial misgivings about having Anson as his secretary, they seem to be getting on very well and have shared interests.
Later that evening, after making love with Albert, Victoria jumps up and down ten times on a small sofa as instructed by Lehzen to avoid conceiving.
The following morning, Victoria invites the Duke of Sussex for breakfast and informs him she would like to meet his wife as it is important spouses be given their due. The flustered duke says he will not change his mind about the order of precedence, however he begins to waver when Victoria offers to make Celia the Duchess of Inverness in her own right. The duke maintains his wife’s happiness is of the utmost importance to him and they seem to have reached an unspoken agreement. At the next state dinner, the Duke of Sussex presents his wife as the Duchess of Inverness (Daisy Goodwin) and he allows Albert to escort Victoria into the dining room ahead of him. Yet, Albert still feels he has not earned his place.
Ernst and Harriet (Margaret Clunie) are spotted together in the gardens much to Albert’s consternation as the duchess is a married woman. Albert later asks Ernst what he is doing and advises his brother to return to Coburg out of harm’s way. As Ernst says his farewells, Albert is upset at being separated from his brother but reminds Victoria they will soon have their own family. As Ernst takes his leave of Harriet and Emma, it is obvious he is in love with Harriet and the feeling seems mutual as she discreetly drops her handkerchief for him to take away.
Albert practices his speech with Anson who corrects his pronunciation and reminds him Exeter Hall is large so he will need to speak loudly. Anson also reminds him a lot of important people, like Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay), are likely to be attending so it is important for Albert to make a good impression as Peel will most likely be prime minster one day. Albert knows Victoria has no love for Peel but they must find common ground.
At Exeter Hall, Albert meets Jonas Barrett (Cornell John), a former slave from Virginia, who tells Albert about his escape from servitude and thanks the prince for lending his support. Victoria arrives incognito but she changes her mind when Anson tells her she is not fooling anyone and she will draw everyone’s attention. Albert begins his speech hesitantly but he gains confidence as he goes on and is given a standing ovation. Sir Robert Peel is particularly impressed with Albert’s speech and congratulates him.
An excited Albert returns to the palace where Victoria is waiting for him and they head to bed. Albert wakes in the middle of the night to find Victoria jumping on the sofa and she confesses she is trying to avoid having children too soon. An amused Albert tells her the only way to avoid conception is abstinence which Victoria does not want.
- Prior to his marriage, Prince Albert was elevated to the style of His Royal Highness by an Order in Council.
- Albert became President of the Society for the Extinction of Slavery soon after his marriage and his first public speech was at the World Anti-Slavery Convention at Exeter Hall in June 1840. Edward (Jonas) Barrett was a real person and a former slave.
- Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland, was appointed Mistress of the Robes whenever the Whigs were in power. Harriet was happily married to George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Earl Gower, and they had eleven children. Harriet was an important figure in high society and she used her position to undertake various philanthropic undertakings including the protest of the English ladies against American slavery. She did not have an affair with Albert’s brother, Ernst.
- Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, was the sixth son and ninth child of George III and Victoria’s favourite uncle. He was known for his liberal views, including the abolition of the slave trade, and had no real love for royal protocol. Sussex was married twice in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act, firstly, to Lady Augusta Murray (1768–1830) with whom he had two children, and, secondly, to Lady Cecilia Buggin who was created Duchess of Inverness by Queen Victoria in 1840.