SEASON THREE.EPISODE ONE

Uneasy Lies The Head That Wears The Crown

Directed by Geoffrey Sax / Written by Daisy Goodwin

First Aired: 24 March 2019

Uneasy Lies The Head That Wears The Crown

Victoria (Jenna Coleman), heavily pregnant with her sixth child, is shocked to discover Louis Philippe, King of the French, has been deposed. Albert (Tom Hughes) also tells her Uncle Leopold is worried about uprisings in Belgium but Victoria feels they will be safe because of the English Channel. Albert is not so sure.

At Parliament, Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) reveals he has sent his congratulations to the French people for deposing their king and has done so with the full support of the prime minster, Lord Russell (John Sessions), who doesn’t look convinced. Palmerston goes on to say the aristocrats of Europe will be uneasy knowing the French have risen up against an unjust king.

Victoria is pleased to have Lady Emma Portman (Anna Wilson-Jones) back at court and remarks her new Mistress of the Robes, Sophie, Duchess of Monmouth (Lily Travers), seems to be settling in well. Sophie points out her knowledge of who outranks who at court is woefully inadequate and her husband is afraid she will make a terrible gaffe. Victoria assures the duke (Nicholas Audsley) she is not worried at all and just wants her friends around her. Albert arrives, whispering something into Victoria’s ear about Lord Palmerston, and Victoria looks angry.

Lord Palmerston arrives at the palace with Russell and the Queen asks if he knows why he was summoned. Palmerston arrogantly says it is because he is an asset to any gathering which does not amuse Victoria. Albert stiffly tells Palmerston they know he has been writing to the revolutionary government in France. Victoria asks the prime minister if he approved such an action but Russell is talked over by Palmerston who says he didn’t exactly do so with permission. Albert angrily berates him for doing it in the Queen’s name but Palmerston insists the British public have a right to know the age of despots is coming to an end. Albert reminds Palmerston he is talking about their family and friends. Victoria asks Palmerston how he can be so sure he knows how the British public feel and he tells her the public’s like a beautiful woman and he wishes to glory in her smile. Neither Albert nor Victoria are impressed.

Vicky (Louisa Bay) is reciting her times tables with Lady Sarah Lyttelton (Siobhan O’Carroll) as they walk along a corridor with Bertie (Laurie Shepherd) and she asks the governess if she’d like to hear them in French next. Lyttelton tells her it is Bertie’s turn but he’d rather run instead. The children arrive in the Drawing Room to visit their parents but Albert asks why his daughter doesn’t curtsey to him. Vicky tells him he is not the sovereign. Vicky spots the crown on the table and asks if she can try it on but Victoria warns her it is very heavy. Vicky puts it on, Victoria asks Bertie if he wants to try it on too but he retorts crowns are for girls. Victoria is brought a letter from Louis Philippe asking if they will give him sanctuary, however Albert is not keen on the idea. Victoria argues they can’t turn him away.

At that moment, Victoria is shocked by the arrival of her sister, Feodora (Kate Fleetwood), who has fled her homeland and prostrates herself at the Queen’s feet. Feodora, in tears, tells Victoria she has been travelling non-stop for days but then she notices Albert and gets up to greet him. Albert steps back but Feodora doesn’t seem to notice and kisses him anyway. Feodora then greets Vicky and Bertie, while the nanny appears in the doorway with the three youngest children: Alice, Alfred, and Helena. Feodora remarks Victoria has so many children and another one on the way. Victoria tells Feodora her visit is unexpected and Feodora apologises for not writing in advance but there was no time as she was so afraid of the mob. Feodora recounts how she was on her way home to Langenburg when she had to flee by changing clothes with her maid.

Victoria and Albert are spending time alone in her rooms when Victoria wonders how long Feodora is going to stay. Albert reminds her Feodora is her sister but Victoria says they were never close as Feodora left to get married. At that point, Feodora barges into the room claiming she’s gotten lost looking for her room and remarks how everything is such a big change from Kensington.

The following day, Victoria and Feodora are having tea when Bertie accidentally bumps into Feodora making her spill her tea down her dress. Victoria passes Bertie a cloth to clean the mess and he comments Feodora has a hole in her dress. She laughs and says they have moths in Langenburg. At that moment, Albert enters the room and reads Victoria an extract from Karl Marx encouraging the working class to rise up against their oppressors. Victoria argues the English are too civilised for such behaviour but Albert tells her not to be sure as some Chartists have gone to France to congratulate the revolutionaries and he intends to find out how they really feel. Later, Albert visits the slums in London where he is shocked by the living conditions and comments on how they are being forced to live like vermin.

Out in the carriage, Feodora is reminiscing with Victoria about their life at Kensington Palace and how happy they were. Victoria remembers it differently and how eager her sister was to get married. Victoria asks Sophie if she was as eager to get married but Sophie says it was all down to her mother who wanted her daughter to be a duchess. Victoria comments tartly on how she couldn’t wait to marry the prince but then she had no other ties to which Feodora responds by looking away. In the park, Palmerston is watching a bare knuckle fight as the Queen’s carriage passes and she throws him a look of disdain.

The prime minster and Palmerston arrive at the palace to warn the Queen the Chartists seem intent on following the example of the French and there have already been a few disturbances. Albert says they must find common ground but Palmerston argues they will be signing their own death warrants if they give an illiterate mob the vote. Albert tells them about his visit to the slums but Palmerston says now is not the time for do-gooding. The prime minister says they believe the Chartists are planning a mass demonstration on 10 April but Victoria refuses to believe her people mean her harm.

Louis Philippe (Vincent Regan) arrives at the palace and is grateful for their hospitality. He reveals his family are scattered all over Europe and he can only pray he will see them again. Feodora sympathises with him but says she at least has the consolation of being with Victoria. Louis Philippe hopes he has not brought trouble to them as he knows he is not popular with the British public at the moment. Victoria reminds him he is their guest and that’s all that matters.

The following day, the children are putting on a play for Louis Philippe when Vicky welcomes them in French. Bertie is playing the king but he’s having trouble remembering the words in French and then he gets upset and says he doesn’t want to be the stupid king. Bertie throws his crown across the room and runs over to Sarah Lyttleton who comforts him. Feodora remarks to Victoria that her son has a temper. Vicky continues with the play, however she gets annoyed when she realises no one is paying attention.

Victoria is making preparations for a dinner honouring Louis Philippe when she tells Sophie to make sure Palmerston is sitting nowhere near her. Feodora maintains she cannot attend the dinner as she has nothing suitable to wear. Victoria tells her Skerrett (Nell Hudson) will alter one of her own gowns for her but Feodora points out the difference in their height. Victoria tells her Skerrett will just add a ruffle which annoys Feodora. Later, Feodora studies a portrait of George IV when Bertie asks what she is doing and he comments the king was fat. Feodora tells him she used to have tea with George and that one day he will be a king. Bertie tells her not to be silly and they only have queens in Britain.

As the dinner guests are waiting for the arrival of the Queen, the Duke of Monmouth asks how his wife has been getting on at the palace and Sophie says she must be doing something right as the Queen has given her a brooch with her picture. The duke informs her she has it on the wrong way much to Sophie’s consternation. Lady Emma interrupts to say there is no correct way to wear the brooch. As the ladies walk away, Sarah tells Emma her father was a grocer and the duke doesn’t let her forget it.

When Louis Philippe arrives with Victoria, Palmerston is quick to welcome him to Britain but Louis Philippe knows exactly who he is and that he wrote congratulating the revolutionaries. Palmerston maintains he was only congratulating the government on regaining a new period of stability. Louis Philippe wryly remarks how he would love to be an Englishman if he were not a Frenchman and Palmerston responds smugly that if he wasn’t an Englishman, he would love to be an Englishman. Victoria can’t take anymore and walks away.

Later, Feodora entertains the guests by playing the piano but Victoria is looking increasingly uncomfortable in her chair. As she gets up for some air, Palmerston asks how long Louis Philippe will be staying at the palace and she says he will be staying a long as he needs. Palmerston hopes there will be no repercussions and Victoria assures him she knows where her duty lies and her people know that. Palmerston tells her you can’t be too careful these days about the company you are keeping, Victoria gives him a withering look and walks away. Albert tells Palmerston diplomacy does not seem to be one of his skills but Palmerston retorts patriotism is and he would hate to see the Queen suffer the same fate as her guests. Palmerston says he can’t be answerable to the consequences if Victoria continues to surround herself with foreigners.

The following day, Albert shows Victoria a letter he has received from Uncle Leopold saying he has fled to Ostend and insists they leave for Osborne. Victoria says she will not run away and insists the Chartists just want the vote, not a Republic. Louis Philippe reminds her his own father lost his head to Mme Guillotine but Victoria insists the English are not revolutionary. Later, Feodora joins Albert in his study and they play chess. Feodora says she wants to be of some use while she is staying and Albert asks her to persuade Victoria to go to Osborne.

The prime minster and Palmerston arrive at the palace to report there has been some rioting but Palmerston is getting on Victoria’s nerves as he keeps talking over Russell. Victoria dismisses Palmerston much to everyone’s relief. Once he has left, Victoria says she can no longer tolerate him. Albert once more urges Victoria to leave London but she insists she will not run away. Albert takes the matter out of her hands and says they will be leaving tomorrow.

A mob converges on the palace and the gates are hastily closed. As Albert is giving the footmen instructions, a rock is thrown through the window, narrowly missing Victoria. Albert rushes to her side, insisting they must leave, however Victoria says they can’t as her waters have broken. Albert carries Victoria to her bedroom as soldiers rush to subdue the mob. The mob burns an effigy of her as Victoria screams as the contractions take hold.

Notes

  • Victoria and Albert’s sixth child, Louise Caroline Alberta, was born on 18 March 1848 and the Queen commented her daughter would turn out to be something peculiar due to the revolutionary forces sweeping through Europe. Victoria was also given chloroform for the first time during the birth and she found it to be a blessing. As predicted, Louise would often be at loggerheads with her mother as Louise had far more liberal ideas and was more unconventional than her siblings.
  • Feodora of Leiningen (1807-1872) was born in Bavaria on 7 December 1807 and was the only daughter born of the Duchess of Kent’s first marriage to Emich Carl, Prince of Leiningen. When her mother married for the second time, Feodora and her brother, Carl, moved to Britain for Victoria’s birth in 1818. Feodora and Victoria were actually close despite their age gap, however Feodora was anxious to escape the claustrophobic atmosphere of Kensington Palace and she married Ernst I, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. After Feodora moved to Germany, she and Victoria corresponded regularly and Feodora was given an allowance to help her visit England. She is portrayed on the show in a very poor light which is rather a shame.
  • Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784–1865), served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century and was in charge of foreign policy from 1830 to 1865. As Foreign Secretary, his principal aim was to advance the national interests of Britain and wasn’t above saying he was prepared to threaten war to achieve that. Palmerston was immensely popular with the public and the press who gave him the nickname “Pam” but he never did gain the respect of Queen Victoria who never fully trusted him. Palmerston was married to Emily Lamb, a sister of Lord Melbourne, who had been his longterm mistress while she was still married to her first husband. Palmerston is portrayed as being much younger on the show as he would’ve been in his mid-sixties.
  • John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (1792-1878), was a leading Whig politician who served as Prime Minister twice during the early Victorian era. Russell replaced Sir Robert Peel on 30 June 1846 and his government was responsible for passing social reforms such as the Factory Act of 1847, which restricted the working hours of women and children in textile mills. Russell was often at odds with Palmerston as he disliked his belligerent attitude and found him an embarrassment.
  • The Duke and Duchess of Monmouth are fictional characters.
  • Sarah Lyttelton (1787-1870) was appointed as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria in 1837 not long after the death of her husband, William Lyttelton, 3rd Baron Lyttelton. When Prince Albert became dissatisfied with how the royal nursery was being run, Sarah was appointed governess to the royal children who affectionally called her Laddle. After her youngest daughter, Lavinia, died giving birth to her fourth child in 1850, Sarah left royal service to look after her grandchildren.
  • Louis Philippe I (1773-1850) was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 and he was the son of Philippe Égalité who actively supported the Revolution of 1789 and pushed for the elimination of the absolute monarchy in favour of a constitutional monarchy. Philippe Égalité voted in favour of the death of Louis XVI but he himself was guillotined in November 1793 during the Reign of Terror. Louis Philippe has seized the crown from the ruling House of Bourbon after the July Revolution of 1830, however his popularity declined as conditions for the working classes deteriorated. During the February 1848 Revolution, Louis Philippe abdicated in favour of his young grandson, Philippe, comte de Paris, then he fled to England under the name of Mr. Smith. Louis Philippe and his family lived in exile at Claremont, Surrey, where he died on 26 August 1850.
  • The Chartists were a working-class movement for political reform in Britain that existed from 1838 to 1857. During the 1848 revolutions that swept throughout Europe, Chartism re-emerged as a powerful force and a mass meeting was arranged on Kennington Common on 10 April 1848 so they could present their petition to the government. The meeting was a peaceful one as the Chartists had no intention of staging an uprising, however the government recruited 100,000 special constables to bolster the police force. The Chartists were seeking a fairer political system where a working class man could place his vote, in confidence, and have his opinion matter.
  • The 1848 revolutions were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe when the disgruntled working and middle classes rose up against the bourgeoisie. Thousands of people were killed and many more were forced into exile, while it brought about the end of the monarchies in France and Denmark. There were no major political upheavals in Britain and no mobs attacked Buckingham Palace.