LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN
Victoria must decide whether to fight the Chartists with force, or allow them to present their petition.
Directed by Geoffrey Sax. Written by Daisy Goodwin.
London Bridge Is Falling Down
As the mob is held back at the palace gates, Victoria (Jenna Coleman) continues her labour unknowingly watched by Vicky (Louisa Bay) and Bertie (Laurie Shepherd) who fear she is going to die. Vicky informs her brother he will be king if his mother dies but he still insists on believing he won’t as he was not born first. The children are ushered away by Lady Lyttelton (Siobhan O’Carroll) as Feodora (Kate Fleetwood) rushes to Victoria’s side.
As the sounds of violence escalate, Albert (Tom Hughes) leaves to ensure there are plenty guards everywhere but he is horrified to discover Louis Philippe (Vincent Regan) is gambling with Lord Alfred (Jordan Waller) and the Duke of Monmouth (Nicholas Audsley). Sophie Monmouth (Lily Travers) arrives to inform Albert the child is about to arrive and he rushes back to Victoria. Sophie spots her husband and asks why he is there and he informs her as a member of the Privy Council he is required to witness the birth to ensure the child is the genuine article. Sophie berates him for playing cards as he knows Albert deplores such behaviour.
As daylight dawns, Victoria has given birth to a girl and when the older children rush into the bedroom to see their new sister, Vicky declares she is prettier than the last one and Bertie tells his mother he’s glad she isn’t dead. Meanwhile, Feodora is dismayed the new princess isn’t going to be named after her despite heavy hints as Victoria announces she will be called Louise after Albert’s mother.
The Duke of Wellington (Peter Bowles) arrives to inform Albert the situation with the rioting has become dangerous and he is later joined by Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) and Lord Russell (John Sessions) who congratulate Victoria on the birth of her daughter. Russell warns the royal couple that thousands of Chartists intend to deliver their petition any day now and they are concerned about the gathering getting out of hand. Victoria argues she believes the Chartists to be a peaceful movement but Palmerston reminds her about the rocks thrown through the palace windows the day before. Victoria maintains the riot was due to the presence of the French king. Nevertheless, Wellington wants to place artillery and cavalry on the bridges but Victoria believes it is unnecessary. Palmerston rudely accuses Victoria of not understanding the seriousness of the situation and Albert reminds him he is speaking to the queen. Victoria maintains she does not approve of military intervention and refuses to sign the order.
Later, Russell and Palmerston return to the palace but Victoria will only allow Russell an audience. Russell informs the Queen a police raid on the Chartists uncovered enough rifles to arm a regiment and Victoria reluctantly signs the order for the troops to be deployed.
Louis Philippe and Vicky talk about maths in French while Bertie contemplates a portrait of Charles I. Louis Philippe compliments Vicky on her skills and she says her father calls her his philosophy princess. Noticing the portrait, Louis Philippe informs the children that the English were the first to get rid of their king and tells them the king had his head cut off with an axe. Alarmed, the children run to their mother to ask if she is going to have her head cut off as that’s what they do in France when they have a revolution. Albert reassures them he would never let anyone hurt their mother and Victoria gathers all of the children around her.
A furious Albert confronts Louis Philippe for scaring the children but the King maintains he merely gave them a lesson in French history and he is sure they will recover. Albert accuses Louis Philippe of abusing their hospitality but he reminds the prince the children must learn the realities of life. Albert tells him nothing will happen to his children and that the King’s presence here continues to be a provocation. Louis Philippe replies he will not outstay his welcome but reminds Albert he has nowhere else to go.
As Sophie is returning home, she is violently attacked by a mob who shake her carriage and spit at her. She is rescued by Lord Palmerston who chases the mob away and then takes the opportunity to flirt with her. Palmerston notices a box with toy soldiers on the floor of the carriage and Sophie tells him they are a gift for her son who misses her. Palmerston tells Sophie it is too dangerous to go anywhere today and accompanies her back to the palace.
As Wellington sets up barricades between the bridge and the palace, Albert asks if it is really necessary as the Chartists must also be allowed to have their say. Wellington maintains his priority is to ensure the safety of the Queen and Albert informs him they will be going to Osborne as soon as she can travel. Wellington hopes the French king will be leaving London as well and Albert agrees with him as he absentmindedly watches a small boy picking up scraps of food from the gutters.
Back at the palace, Sophie tells Victoria of her ordeal and how Palmerston came to her rescue so the Queen asks to see him. Feodora is confused as she thought Victoria did not like the man but Victoria tells her she doesn’t understand her position. Feodora hits back that she knows what it feels like to be threatened by a mob and to feel like you are amongst enemies in your own country. Victoria retorts Langenberg is hardly the same as England but her sister says she would hardly be in a position to know. Victoria reminds Feodora she was the one who left and didn’t even come back for her wedding. Feodora asks if it ever occurred to Victoria that she could not afford it and the Queen tells her she would have paid. Feodora says she would not beg from her own sister and tells Victoria she will never understand her position.
Victoria meets with Palmerston in the gardens and asks if he believes the Chartists really meant to use the guns against her. He says it is a possibility and they have to take precautions. Victoria asks if she is really so unpopular and Palmerston reminds her of how Lord Melbourne, his brother-in-law, used to say the English were not known for their logic. He also tells her how Melbourne said it was the greatest privilege of his life to serve as her prime minister. Victoria asks if Melbourne would have advised her to set troops on her own people and Palmerston replies her safety is more important than her popularity.
Feodora watches Victoria and Palmerston from the queen’s dressing room window while trying on her jewellery. As she walks along the corridor, she bumps into Albert and tells him it is time for her to return to Langenberg as she can no longer stay where she is not wanted. Albert tells her Victoria often doesn’t know what she wants and can be volatile after giving birth. Feodora looks relieved as Albert tells her to stay. Albert asks where Victoria is and is surprised to hear she is in the garden with Palmerston.
In the gardens, Victoria is sitting alone by the pond when Albert approaches and asks if she is alright. Victoria says she was thinking about her ascension and all those old men frowning down at her as if it was all a dreadful mistake. However, the sound of her people cheering when she went out on the balcony made her realise what it meant to be a queen and she cannot feel that now. Albert comforts her, saying she is tired, and they need to get away to Osborne. Victoria refuses to leave like a coward but Albert says he will do anything to keep her safe.
In her rooms, Victoria is deep in thought when Louis Philippe enters to tell her he is leaving. Victoria asks him if he regrets leaving France to which he responds in the affirmative, saying France is the only civilised country in the world but he would rather live amongst savages than meet Mme La Guillotine. Victoria tells him they are leaving for Osborne in the morning and Louis Philippe asks if that is making her feel like a coward. He tells her life is more important than a crown. Victoria tells him he can stay at Claremont, Uncle Leopold’s former residence, which is far enough out of London.
Victoria goes looking for her sister who is playing the piano and asks if she is really thinking of leaving. Feodora thinks it will be for the best as Victoria has no room for her. Victoria apologises for being unkind and says she isn’t used to having a sister around. Feodora bursts into tears and Victoria asks her to stay. She informs Feodora they are leaving for Osborne in the morning which makes Feodora very happy.
The children are gathering their belongings together for their trip to Osborne when Bertie spots Helena with his bow and grabs it from her. Albert makes Bertie apologise and says they will have to spend time at Osborne making sure he is fit for his future role as king. An alarmed Bertie runs out of the room. Vicky tells her father Bertie doesn’t want to be king and she would make a better queen.
Sophie arrives home to say goodbye to her son and finally gets to give him the toy soldiers. William (Gregory Mann) is very upset his mother is leaving and begs her to stay. At that moment, the duke descends the stairs and coldly sends the boy to his room. Monmouth tells Sophie it is good she is going as she mollycoddles the boy too much and reminds him their son will be a duke one day.
Victoria finds her son hiding under a table and he is adamant he doesn’t want to be king. Victoria tells him it is their destiny to rule this country and to think about it as a little flame inside that can’t be extinguished. Bertie tells her Vicky is better at numbers but Victoria tells him it doesn’t matter as Aunt Feodora is better at everything than her and she thinks Bertie will be a great king.
Abigail Turner (Sabrina Bartlett), the Queen’s seamstress, begs for an audience with Victoria and informs her the Chartists have been infiltrated by an undercover agent from the police who planted the guns to put them in a bad light. She protests the Chartists are a peaceful movement and begs the Queen to intercede to prevent a massacre. Later, Victoria relates the story to Albert but he dismisses the theory as it makes no sense.
The following day, Wellington addresses his troops as the Chartists prepare to present their petition. As the royal family leave for Osborne, Victoria watches from the carriage window as the soldiers line the streets and get heavy-handed with the locals. Getting more and more upset, Victoria finally orders the carriage to stop and she tells Wellington to allow the Chartists to cross the bridge to present their petition. Wellington and Palmerston don’t agree with her but Victoria says she does not believe ordinary working men could get their hands on so many rifles and they were deliberately infiltrated. As Albert leads Victoria away, Palmerston asks Russell how the Queen could have found out to which the prime minster replies he’s not the only one with the popular touch.
The Chartists continue their journey to present The People’s Charter and are allowed to cross the bridge after Wellington orders his men to stand down. As the royal family arrive at Osborne, Albert takes Victoria to his dressing room where he shows her a risqué painting of Hercules and Hero which he says he bought to look at while lying in the bath thinking of her. Victoria tells him Osborne is his kingdom but the moment is interrupted when Feodora arrives with a message from Wellington informing her the Chartists delivered their petition peacefully. Angrily, Victoria says she should have been there before leaving the room.
- The Chartist gathering took place on 10 April 1848 at Kennington Common, and 8,000 soldiers were deployed under the command of the Duke of Wellington to supplement the 100,000 special constables recruited to help the police.
- Somewhere between 15,000 and 300,000 (reports vary) people arrived at Kennington Common but they were not allowed to cross Westminster Bridge as portrayed. Instead, the petition was delivered straight to Parliament in three hired cabs by a small group of representatives.
- The Chartists claimed more than 6 million signatures were on the petition but the government later claimed there were only 1.9 million as many names had been fabricated. The Chartists expressed doubts the clerks could have read so many names so quickly but the petition was discredited anyway.
- The royal family really were evacuated to Osborne two days before the petition was due to be presented and Victoria wrote in her diary how relieved she was it had happened without any violence.
- Feodora and her family were affected by the revolutions wracking Europe in 1848, however she did not flee to England alone as Victoria’s diaries are full of entries of how their children all played together. Feodora and her family arrived in impoverished circumstances at Osborne in August 1848 and didn’t return to Germany until November that same year.
- Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, was built between 1845 and 1851 as a summer home and rural retreat for the royal family. In this episode, you can see the exterior of the real house but the interior scenes were filmed at Broadsworth Hall, Yorkshire.