SEASON TWO.EPISODE FOUR
The Sins of the Father
Directed by Geoffrey Sax / Written by Ottilie Wilford
First Aired: 17 September 2017
The Sins of the Father
The court rejoices as Victoria (Jenna Coleman) gives birth to a son but the labour leaves her suffering from postnatal depression. At a loss, Albert (Tom Hughes) tries to provide her comfort but Victoria can find no joy in her son and says all newborn babies are like frogs. Matters are not improved when a message arrives from Coburg announcing the death of Albert’s father and the prince makes arrangements to travel to Rosenau. Victoria is not at all happy at the prospect of being left behind and tells Albert she should go with him but he argues she is not well enough. On the other hand, Lehzen (Daniela Holtz) is delighted the prince has gone so she can have Victoria to herself again.
In Coburg, Albert and Ernst (David Oakes) view their father’s body which is lying in state and Albert reveals he received a letter from him the day before his death asking for the new prince to be named after him but it was too late. Ernst laughs and tells Albert he chose the right name for his son. Ernst announces they are now orphans but Uncle Leopold (Alex Jennings) tells them they still have him. While walking around the grounds, Albert confesses to Ernst he is worried about Victoria and her lack of interest in anything. Albert is also upset about how unkind he was to their father when they last met and Ernst tells Albert the duke died in the arms of his mistress. It is obvious Ernst isn’t feeling as grief-stricken as his younger brother.
In London, Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay) is trying to get Victoria to attend the opening of the new Thames Tunnel but the Queen shows a distinct lack of enthusiasm even when Lord Alfred (Jordan Waller) tries to show her a 3D rendering. Victoria is intrigued but still won’t attend. Later, Victoria is throwing stones into a pond in the gardens when the Duchess of Kent (Catherine Flemming) wonders why she isn’t in the nursery. The duchess helpfully points out she couldn’t bear to be apart from Victoria when she was a baby and that babies are so easy to love before walking away. When Victoria visits the nursery that evening, she watches the wet nurse feed her son but can’t bring herself to go inside.
After the funeral, Albert is looking at a miniature portrait of his mother when Uncle Leopold confesses he and Louise were intimate with each other and Albert is shocked to his core when Leopold implies he is Albert’s father. The following day, Albert is having trouble dealing with Uncle Leopold’s revelation and can barely look him in the eye at a small family gathering. Ernst reveals Uncle Leopold is trying to arrange a marriage for him with Princess Alda of Oldenburg (Hebe Beardsall) who is just descending the stairs to meet them. Alda is a very plain and austere young woman who seems to disapprove of everything except attending church.
Meanwhile, Peel arrives at the palace to inform Victoria that five men have been killed in an explosion in the armoury at the Tower and he wants her to visit the injured in hospital. Victoria is horrified by the suggestion but she acquiesces. When Victoria arrives at the hospital, the ordeal takes its toll on her emotionally and she leaves in tears. Later that evening, the Duchess of Buccleuch (Diana Rigg) congratulates Victoria for forcing herself to visit the injured and then reveals she knows how the Queen is feeling as she went through something similar after the birth of her daughter, Mary. Victoria takes comfort from this and the duchess promises her it will get easier.
Back in Coburg, Albert tracks his brother down to a tavern but instead of giving him a lecture on the evils of alcohol, he decides to follow his example and gets drunk. Albert starts to build a tower of glasses while maintaining life is all about achieving a balance and then tells his brother he feels like he is surrounded by elves. Ernst tells his brother he has no intention of being forced into a marriage with Alda. Albert tries to tell Ernst about Uncle Leopold’s confession but he is not listening. Albert returns to Rosenau where he begins to put on armour. Uncle Leopold asks him what he is doing and Albert says he is protecting himself. Uncle Leopold tries to get Albert to understand how proud he is to be his father but Albert is having none of it. He tells Uncle Leopold his whole life has been a lie and that Victoria is married to a bastard. Uncle Leopold tells Albert no one can know the truth and he only told Albert to give him some comfort.
The Duchess of Buccleuch presents Victoria with a wicker basket containing a new puppy – a gift from the Sultan of Muscat – and it brings about an immediate change in Victoria’s demeanour. The duchess is less than pleased though when Victoria lets the puppy pee on her bed but she is content to see the Queen smiling again. Victoria is even happier when Albert arrives home but the truth of his paternity is weighing heavily and he is struggling to hide it. Victoria tries to persuade Albert to attend the opening of the Thames Tunnel but he refuses and the Queen assumes he is still grieving for his father. Victoria attends the opening ceremony on her own but everyone is pleased to notice how much her mood has improved.
Later, Victoria plays with her daughter in the nursery and finally begins to show an interest in Bertie. That evening, Victoria finally tells Albert how worthless she felt after the birth of the prince and how she feels like an imposter sometimes. Albert praises Victoria for her honesty and she sings as Albert plays the piano.
- Victoria and Albert’s second child, Albert Edward, was born at Buckingham Palace on 9 November 1841 but wasn’t created Prince of Wales until the 8 December 1841. The new baby was named Albert after his father and Edward after his maternal grandfather, Edward, Duke of Kent, however he was known as Bertie in the family. He would eventually reign as Edward VII even though his mother had wanted him to reign as Albert I.
- Although postnatal depression was not a recognised condition at the time, there is evidence in Queen Victoria’s diaries which indicates she may have suffered from it after giving birth to more than one of her children.
- Albert’s father, Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, actually died on 29 January 1844, however Albert was unable to attend his funeral as news of his death arrived too late. It was April 1844 before Albert arrived in Coburg to see his family and it really was the first time he and Victoria had been apart since their marriage.
- The Duchess of Buccleuch didn’t give birth to her daughter, Mary, until August 1851, and she didn’t lose her husband until April 1884. Incidentally, the duchess is the great-great-great grandmother of Sarah, Duchess of York.
- The Thames Tunnel was the first tunnel known to have been constructed successfully underneath a navigable river and it connected Rotherhithe to Wapping. The tunnel was constructed between 1825 and 1843 by Marc Isambard Brunel and his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, using tunnelling shield technology invented by Marc Brunel and Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald. The tunnel was finally opened to the public on 25 March 1843 and it would eventually be used for trains rather than pedestrians.
- There have been questions surrounding the paternity of Albert floating around for a long time and author David Duff was the first to suggest he may have been fathered by Leopold as the king was visiting Rosenau around the time of the conception. However, the matter is more complicated as some historians insist the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was not unfaithful until years after Albert’s birth. The truth is we will probably never know.
- Princess Alda of Oldenburg is a fictional character.
- The explosion in the armoury at the Tower happened in October 1841, a week before the birth of the Prince of Wales.