SEASON ONE.EPISODE EIGHT
Directed by Oliver Blackburn / Written by Daisy Goodwin
First Aired: 9 October 2016
Victoria (Jenna Coleman) declares she is sick and tired of being pregnant as she cannot ride or dance but Albert (Tom Hughes) is only half listening so Victoria berates him for his lack of sympathy. Albert resumes reading Punch, laughing at the jokes, which Victoria doesn’t find at all amusing. When Lehzen (Daniela Holtz) arrives with some medicine, Albert cannot hide his annoyance and promptly decides to go riding.
Uncle Leopold (Alex Jennings) and Uncle Ernest (Peter Firth) have both arrived in London for the birth of the royal baby, however it is plain they are both hoping for a different end result as Ernest will become King of Great Britain if Victoria and the baby both die in childbirth. The matter is discussed amongst the servants of the palace and it is clear tensions are running high within the household. Meanwhile, a mysterious young man, Edward Oxford (Harry McEntire), receives a note ordering him to do nothing until he receives instructions from Hanover.
Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay) and Albert discuss the arrival of Cumberland and Peel warns Albert to take care as Ernest is the heir until both mother and child are delivered safely. At the palace, Victoria is opening baby presents but she is feeling superstitious and tells Lehzen she wishes people would wait until after the birth. Victoria admits she is terrified of giving birth but Lehzen reassures her she is more than capable. Victoria feels like no one is looking at her anymore, just her unborn child, but Lehzen says she only serves her. Afterwards, Lehzen is dealing with the Queen’s correspondence but she throws away letters from a Captain Childers who has been professing his love for the Queen for years.
Ernst (David Oakes) arrives at the palace and immediately vows to cheer up Albert who he believes is looking too solemn. Ernst finds Harriet Sutherland (Margaret Clunie) in the gardens and comments on how ill at ease Victoria and Albert seem with each other since his last visit but Harriet assures him the first year is always the hardest. The topic turns to marriage in general with Ernst implying Harriet is not happily married and things would be different if she was with a man she loved. He asks Harriet if she missed him and she teases him by replying she did think often about the whereabouts of her handkerchief.
Victoria tells her ladies she is going for a drive around the park but the Duchess of Kent (Catherine Flemming) says it is too dangerous. Victoria informs her mother she is not going to be kept a prisoner like she was at Kensington but the duchess simply reminds her daughter about all the sacrifices she had to make for her. After the duchess departs the room, Victoria orders Lehzen to find her a wet nurse. Edward Oxford practices shooting at a crude figure of Victoria in a field.
Victoria, accompanied by Lehzen and Harriet, are in an open carriage where they are discussing the merits and faults of married men. A crowd soon gathers to greet the Queen but their progress is soon halted by a cart that has broken down ahead of them. Lord Alfred (Jordan Waller) rides ahead to help while Victoria is approached by a man named Captain Childers (Andrew Scarborough) who throws a bunch of violets into the carriage. When Childers reveals his name, Lehzen is startled to realise he is the same man who writes constantly to Victoria expressing his admiration for her. As Childers tells the Queen he has come to free her from her gilded cage, Lehzen becomes increasingly uneasy and calls for Lord Alfred. Lord Alfred orders Childers to be arrested and he is taken away. Unsettled, Victoria returns to the palace. Later, Albert tells Victoria of Peel’s concern Uncle Ernest may be out to cause trouble and urges her to stay inside but Victoria dismisses his concerns and accuses him of not caring about her needs.
The following day, Uncle Ernest arrives at the palace for an audience with Victoria and immediately provokes the queen’s ire by saying the country will not be happy to be ruled by a German in the event Albert becomes regent. Leopold accuses Uncle Ernest of being tactless in discussing such matters in front of the Queen and reminds him Parliament supports Albert’s regency unanimously. Uncle Ernest glowers when Leopold points out Parliament was not so happy to have him appointed. Victoria dismisses Uncle Ernest but he warns her to take care as violets can easily be replaced with something more damaging.
When Albert discovers Captain Childers has been writing to Victoria for years and Lehzen never once mentioned it, he orders Lehzen to bring the Queen’s correspondence to him in future. When Lehzen asks him if the Queen wishes it too, Albert remains silent and Lehzen smugly curtseys before leaving the room.
As Victoria gets ready for her usual afternoon drive, Albert declares he will accompany her instead of Lehzen. As Victoria and Albert head away in the carriage, Ernst entertains Harriet by playing her a piece of music he composed in Coburg which signified how unhappy he was being parted from her. As things become more heated, Emma Portman (Anna Wilson-Jones) rushes into the room to warn them the Duchess of Kent and King Leopold are returning from their stroll. Harriet abruptly leaves the room as Ernst watches her.
As the Queen’s carriage leaves the gates of the palace, the crowds greet her warmly but Edward Oxford pushes his way to the front and opens fire. Albert spots him before the first shot rings out and he pushes Victoria down, covering her body with his own. As chaos erupts in the crowd, Edward Oxford is disarmed and arrested. Back at the palace, Albert carries a distressed Victoria to her bedroom, reassuring her she is safe, while Victoria clings to him in shock.
As the doctor examines Victoria, her stress levels are increased by the presence of her mother and Leopold who are convinced Uncle Ernest was behind the assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Albert and Peel learn Oxford is a member of the Young England society and he appears to have been receiving letters from Hanover. Peel is unfamiliar with the society but the mention of Hanover seems to prove Uncle Ernest’s involvement. When Albert tells Victoria what he has learned, she struggles to believe her uncle could really want to kill her. Albert tells her Oxford will be tried for treason and she tearfully declares her life would have been over if Oxford had succeeded in killing Albert instead of her.
The following day, Uncle Ernest arrives at Parliament and is dismayed when he realises everyone is literally turning their backs on him and he protests his innocence directly to Peel who doesn’t believe him. Ernest maintains he is only in England in his role as heir presumptive as childbirth is a perilous business, however Peel reminds him Her Majesty has access to the best doctors the country has to offer. Oxford is questioned at length by the police but he refuses to reveal who was behind the assassination. Later, the police tell Albert and Peel that Oxford’s weapon was not fully loaded and the Young England society appears to be a figment of his imagination.
While relaxing at the palace, Albert receives a note from Peel who is attending Oxford’s trial saying he is afraid the young man will be acquitted on the grounds of insanity. Victoria, upset at the news, stumbles against the fireplace and fears she will be a prisoner in her own home if Oxford goes free. Albert promises he will keep her safe but she tells him she wants to be free. Uncle Ernest arrives at the palace to talk with Victoria in the hopes his innocence has now been proven but Victoria remains hostile to him. Ernest criticises her for not having dealt with Oxford properly, stating if Oxford had tried to kill him, he would have had him hanged immediately. A thoughtful Victoria rises from the throne, tells him she is a better monarch than he will ever be, and then leaves the room in triumph.
Later, Peel arrives at the palace to inform Victoria and Albert that Oxford is to be detained indefinitely at Bedlam as the doctors are convinced he is not of sound mind. Albert is not happy with the decision but Victoria says they must accept it and she declares she will be going for her usual drive this afternoon. Albert disapproves but Peel backs her.
Returning from their drive, Victoria is pleased by the reception she received from the crowds and Albert admits she was right all along. Getting to his knees, Albert pays homage to her as his queen which moves Victoria greatly. Meanwhile, Ernst and Harriet’s relationship gets more intimate as they spend time alone in her rooms and she lets down her hair for him. He asks for a lock of her hair and she acquiesces.
Leopold and Victoria share a quiet moment together while she is happily munching on sweets. Leopold sits down next to her and begins to reminisce about how much weight his beloved Charlotte put on while pregnant and how he regrets giving in to her every whim. Leopold tells her he converted to Catholicism when he became King of the Belgians but he will pray for her in every denomination. Victoria simply offers him the plate of sweets. Elsewhere, Albert informs Ernst he was seen leaving Harriet’s rooms the previous evening and admonishes him but Ernst promises nothing untoward happened.
During the night, Victoria goes into labour and the palace suddenly becomes a hive of activity. After hours of labour, Victoria is safely delivered of a baby daughter and bells ring throughout the land. The baby princess is named Victoria after her mother.
- Queen Victoria survived no fewer than eight assassination attempts throughout her reign, however the first attempt was on 10 June 1840 when eighteen-year-old Edward Oxford fired his pistols at the Queen as she was passing in her carriage with Prince Albert. Oxford was subdued by the crowd and the royal couple continued their journey as if nothing had happened. Victoria was only four months pregnant rather than the advanced stage of pregnancy portrayed in the series. Oxford was sentenced to an insane asylum where he spent the next twenty-four years before being transported to Australia.
- Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover, was indeed heir presumptive to Victoria until the birth of her daughter, however he did not return to England for the birth as portrayed and there is no evidence he ever tried to have Victoria assassinated. Ernest left for Hanover in 1839 and returned only once to England in 1843 for the marriage of Princess Augusta of Cambridge.
- Queen Victoria gave birth to her first child, Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, on 21 November 1841, who was heir presumptive until the birth of her younger brother, Albert Edward. Vicky would eventually become the Empress of Germany and give birth to Kaiser Wilhelm II. Vicky was an intelligent child who was said to have been her father’s favourite and he missed her dreadfully when she left for Germany.
- Leopold married Charlotte of Wales, the only daughter of George IV, on 2 May 1816, and they were an extremely popular couple. Charlotte’s first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage but she was pregnant again by the end of April 1817. Charlotte gained a great deal of weight during the early months of her pregnancy which prompted her doctors to put her on a strict diet but this only served to weaken her. After two days of labour, Charlotte finally gave birth to a large stillborn boy, however the princess herself seemed to be recovering. Sadly, a few hours later, Charlotte began bleeding heavily which led to her eventual death and plunged the nation into deep mourning. Croft, the attending physician, took his own life three months later and the whole incident became known as the triple obstetric tragedy after the death of child, mother and medical practitioner.
- Leopold did not convert to Catholicism during his reign as King of the Belgians.