SEASON ONE.EPISODE SEVEN

Engine of Change

Directed by Oliver Blackburn / Written by Daisy Goodwin and Guy Andrews

First Aired: 2 October 2016

Engine of Change

While attending a musical recital, Victoria (Jenna Coleman) begins to feel sick and quickly leaves the room while her guests watch with knowing looks, however she quickly returns and the concert resumes. Later that night, while in bed with Albert (Tom Hughes), Victoria discusses her continued dislike for Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay) but Albert reveals he likes the man’s directness. Albert then gets onto the subject of the railway and how it will revolutionise Britain but Victoria is not too keen as her state boxes are full of complaints about the railway taking over people’s land. Albert, taking in Victoria’s surliness, decides she needs to see a doctor.

After the doctor’s visit, a tearful Victoria tells Albert she is pregnant and he is ecstatic at the news but Victoria tells him she is afraid. The news is revealed at court the following day to rapturous applause but Victoria remains dismayed. The Duchess of Kent (Catherine Flemming) attempts to provide Victoria with remedies for her morning sickness and emphasises the need for rest but Albert is wary of her interference. The duchess then helpfully reminds Victoria that Princess Charlotte’s death in childbirth led to her becoming queen in the first place.

Victoria later tells Albert she resents being treated like a brooding mare and she fears he will find her expanding figure disgusting. Albert reassures her he will always love her and their love is strong enough to burn down a building. Lehzen (Daniela Holtz) interrupts the sweet moment by announcing the arrival of the Lord Chamberlain (Simon Paisley Day) who Victoria admonishes for disturbing her private time. The Lord Chamberlain reluctantly brings up the subject of childbirth and reminds her she needs to nominate a regent in the event she dies and her child survives. Victoria wastes no time in nominating Albert which does not go down well with Wellington (Peter Bowles) when the news is broken to them and he gives Peel the task of convincing Albert to refuse.

The following day, Victoria informs Albert if the Tories turn down his regency, she will abdicate. Albert tells her she will do no such thing and teases her by saying he will leave her. Victoria tartly responds by saying she will kill herself to which Albert muses he will simply remarry. Victoria laughs and asks who he will marry and Albert says both Wellington and Peel. Then he will take Cumberland as his mistress. They both laugh but are soon interrupted by the Duchess of Kent who admonishes laughter is not good for the baby. When her mother leaves, Victoria vows she will send her to live in Carlisle and Albert responds by listing all the things Carlisle is famous for. Victoria is impressed and Albert requests she allow him to visit the north so he would be more readily accepted as regent. Victoria decides they will both go north but Albert tells her the latest research from Germany suggests travelling may be bad for the baby. Victoria reminds him she is not German but the Queen of England and that puts an end to the matter.

As Victoria makes plans for her trip north, the duchess can’t hide her disapproval but she is even more miffed when she is told she will be not be accompanying them. In Staffordshire, Victoria and Albert are the guests of Sir Piers (James Wilby) and Lady Beatrice (Annabel Mullion) Giffard who are staunch Tories and snobs into the bargain. At dinner, Sir Piers reminds Victoria his family have been in England since the Norman Conquest which prompts him to joke the House of Hanover are practically newcomers in comparison. Albert tries to impress everyone with his knowledge of the ceramics factories in Staffordshire but Sir Piers is uninterested and is appalled when Albert says he does not hunt. Sir Piers arranges for a shooting excursion instead.

The following day, the Giffard butler tries to embarrass Albert by ensuring his valet, Lohlein (Basil Eidenbenz), is given the wrong information about what clothes the prince should be wearing but Lohlein is luckily intercepted by Mrs. Jenkins (Eve Myles) who puts things right. Albert turns out to be a better shot than anyone else in the party which miffs Sir Piers and amuses Victoria greatly but the smile is soon wiped off her face when Sir Robert Peel turns up. Apparently, Peel is a neighbour of Sir Piers but Victoria greets him frostily and decides it’s time for luncheon. The topic of conversation soon turns to the railway and it appears Peel shares Albert’s interests and invites the royal party to see the locomotive currently on his estate. Albert is excited at the prospect but Victoria shoots the idea down in flames by saying they need to follow the schedule set out by their hosts.

Lady Beatrice remarks Victoria is looking pale and wonders if she would like some rest but Victoria decides to go for a walk with Lehzen (Daniela Holtz). Victoria begins to rant about Peel’s presence at the luncheon and how he fawns over Albert who doesn’t really know how to interact with people like the Giffards. Lehzen says Peel reminds her of a stuffed frog which makes Victoria laugh. Alone at the table, Sir Piers admonishes Peel for wasting his time with the railway when he should be setting his sights on being prime minister. Furthermore, Sir Piers believes the royal visit has been planned specifically to gain Peel’s support for Albert’s regency. Sir Piers is adamant Albert will not be made regent and Wellington will have that honour instead, however Peel remains silent throughout the whole exchange.

Later that evening, Victoria pleads with Albert to let her lead the conversation because men like Sir Piers do not appreciate the prince’s directness. Albert, looking less than pleased, says nothing.

The following day, Albert heads straight to Peel’s estate to see the locomotive. When the engineer (Ryan Pope) shows the prince how everything works, the prince surprises him with his extensive knowledge and Albert is thrilled when they set off for a ride with Peel. Meanwhile, Victoria is in the huff with Albert for leaving without her but takes the opportunity to find out where Sir Piers stands on the matter of the regency. Sir Piers refuses to be drawn and simply implies it is a matter for a man’s conscience. Victoria, walking away, calls him a weasel under her breath.

Onboard the locomotive, Albert asks Peel directly whether he is seeking to advance his career by getting close to him. Peel denies it and then asks if the prince is currying favour with him to support his regency. Albert admits it would be useful but then goes on to say he actually likes Peel for what its worth and Peel is pleased. An excited and dishevelled Albert returns to the Giffards but is immediately chastised by Victoria for overstepping his bounds which leads to an argument. Victoria goes out for a walk alone but then heads over to Peel’s place to see the engine for herself. Onboard, Victoria sits in the carriage and is initially afraid when it begins to move fast but then she starts to enjoy herself and waves to the people she passes. Albert soon appears, running alongside the carriage, asking if she likes it and she assures him she loves it.

As the Giffards prepare to say goodbye to the royal couple, Sir Piers can’t resist having another go at Peel for seeking companionship with the prince as he has no power to do anything but Peel tells them they are wrong. As Victoria settles into her carriage, she takes a sly swipe at Sir Piers for being stuck in his ways and encourages him to try new things which amuses Peel.

On the way back to London, Victoria cries and then confesses to Albert she is frightened of the pain she will have to endure during childbirth. Albert tells her he wishes he could take her place but reminds her she is strong and equal to the ordeal. Albert pleads with Victoria to let him share her burdens but she urges him to be patient.

Unsurprisingly, Peel supports Albert’s regency at Parliament and makes it clear he is speaking for the entire Tory party which does not please Wellington. Peel arrives at Buckingham Palace to inform Victoria she has the backing of the Tories over the regency but she responds she’s too busy to die.

When Albert arrives to take his usual place by her side, Victoria starts passing him papers to read, saying industry is more his thing than hers. She takes his hand, places it over her bump, and they both smile. All is harmonious once more.

Notes

  • Queen Victoria made no secret of the fact she detested being pregnant and she often lamented how quickly it happened so soon after her marriage. She would later come to resent her children for getting in the way of her and Albert.
  • Queen Victoria’s first ever railway journey took place on 13 June 1842 travelling from Slough to Paddington Station in West London. The entire journey took 25 minutes and she sat in a sumptuous carriage with blue velvet sofas and matching silk curtains. Victoria enjoyed this new way to travel but she would later insist her trains never went over the speed of 30 mph.
  • Sir Piers and Lady Beatrice Giffard appear to be fictional characters.
  • Rudolph Lohlein was a footman in Prince Albert’s father’s household and became Albert’s second valet in 1847. When Albert’s principal valet died in August 1858, Lohlein took his place and served Albert faithfully until his death in 1861. Afterwards, Victoria employed Lohlein as Personal Attendant and Groom of the Chambers until his retirement in July 1884.
  • Mrs. Jenkins, the Queen’s dresser, is a fictional character who is later replaced by Nancy Skerrett. Nancy Skerrett is based on the real Marianne Skerrett, the Queen’s Dresser from 1837 to 1862, although Nancy is portrayed as being much younger than Marianne would have been at that time.