As Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is riding in her carriage with her eldest two children, Vicky (Louisa Bay) and Bertie (Laurie Shepherd), and Sophie, Duchess of Monmouth (Lily Travers), a man breaks free of the crowd, yelling “Freedom for Ireland” and attempts to pull a weapon.
A shocked Victoria returns to the palace where she tells Albert (Tom Hughes) they should visit Ireland but when she later discusses it with Lord John Russell (John Sessions) he is wary of such a visit since Ireland is still a Catholic country and she, as the head of the Church of England, could be placing herself in danger. Victoria argues she will be perfectly safe with Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) who has a house in Ireland. Lord Palmerston says he would be honoured to host Victoria but Albert is still wary.
As Albert leaves the room, he is accosted by Feodora (Kate Fleetwood) who hints Victoria’s ability to make good judgements has been clouded by her recent childbirth. Albert agrees in principal but does not want to confront Victoria directly.
As Victoria sits reading with Lady Emma Portman (Anna Wilson-Jones), she remarks how wretched Sophie appears and Emma confirms the young duchess is having marital problems. Victoria believes she is to blame for dragging Sophie to Osborne without her husband and insists they will both accompany her to Ireland.
In the meantime, Bertie has been appointed a new teacher, Mr. Caine (Edwin Thomas), who seems to be getting along famously with his young pupil. Albert is pleased with his son’s progress and declares Bertie can continue learning with Mr. Caine in the care of Feodora while his parents travel to Ireland. Feodora looks displeased at being left behind.
Arriving in County Cork, Victoria is greeted by the mayor (Trevor Murphy) but the people who have come to greet her are small in number and some are openly hostile. Victoria decides to ignore this and gets into her waiting carriage where Palmerston decides to join her on the pretence of pointing out the sights. However, Victoria is far more intrigued by Lord Palmerston’s wife, Emily, who is tending bees when they arrive at his estate.
At dinner, a drunken Duke of Monmouth (Nicholas Audsley) makes a fool of himself by questioning the intelligence of women, particularly his wife, which earns him a rebuke from Palmerston for being ungallant. Emily Palmerston (Pandora Clifford) tries to deflect Victoria’s attention away from Monmouth by saying she is brave to come to Ireland as the Irish are an unpredictable lot. Victoria is gratified by the crowds who came to greet her even if they were small but admits Albert is less than impressed. Albert remains wary and wonders if they will be as warmly welcomed in Dublin.
Later, Victoria observes Monmouth’s boorish behaviour and asks Palmerston if he always behaves so badly and Palmerston says yes. Victoria then asks Palmerston how she should behave in Dublin and he tells her it is her task to make the Catholics feel like they are part of the same country as their Protestant counterparts. As the guests are introduced to Lady Palmerston’s daughter from her first marriage, Albert remarks how much the girl looks like Palmerston and Lord Alfred (Jordan Waller) coughs discreetly. Albert is horrified when he realises the girl is actually the natural child of Palmerston and was the result of an affair.
In bed, Palmerston remarks on Monmouth’s bad behaviour and his wife expresses her sympathy for Sophie. Palmerston agrees with her and Emily wonders if he has an interest in Sophie which he denies. It’s obvious the Palmerstons have an open marriage but he denies any attraction to Sophie as he kisses Emily.
The following morning, Victoria is sick immediately after awakening and realises with horror that she is pregnant again. Meanwhile, Albert and Alfred come across a burned out village while riding and Albert is immediately suspicious.
Back at the palace, Vicky and Bertie are having breakfast with Feodora when Mr. Caine arrives for Bertie’s sessions, however Bertie seems reluctant to go this time. After they leave, Vicky asks Feodora if she likes Mr. Caine but Feodora responds he is the hired help so the question is irrelevant. Vicky then asks Brodie (Tommy Knight), the footman, if he likes Mr. Caine who tells her he doesn’t.
In Ireland, Victoria is walking in the gardens with Emily Palmerston and the queen is curious why she prefers to remain at the estate while her husband is in London. Emily says it would be impossible for Palmerston to do his job if he were not in London and she says she has her bees for company. Victoria points out Palmerston has no bees to keep him company but Emily says he has other women to do that. Emily goes on to explain Palmerston places his boots outside his bedroom door to show his availability and he shares his adventures with her when he comes home. Victoria is shocked by Emily’s admission and asks if she “places her boots outside her door” too. Emily says she has done so on occasion.
Later, Victoria recounts the whole story to Albert and confesses she finds the Palmerston marriage extraordinary. Albert isn’t really interested in her opinions as he finds Palmerston distasteful and tells her about the village he found today. Albert maintains everything about Palmerston is a lie and urges Victoria to come to lunch with him. Displeased, Victoria maintains they are merely putting on a show of unity which makes them just as much of a lie as the Palmerstons.
After lunch, Albert takes Victoria to see the burned out village but on their way back the horses are startled when a shot rings out and Albert is immediately alarmed for his wife’s safety. The culprit turns out to be Palmerston’s gamekeeper, Magee (Fergal McElherron), who apologises for scaring them and says he isn’t used to people being around there anymore. He tells them Palmerston is no different from the other gentry when it comes to the people and he had the villagers cleared out when the famine arrived. He tells them the English don’t want to talk to the starving who they refer to as “dirty papists”. Victoria tells Magee she is going to Dublin to address that very concern.
Elsewhere, Sophie comes across Joseph (David Burnett), the footman, at the beach and spends some time with him but they are spotted returning by Palmerston. Palmerston tells Sophie if she has an “itch to scratch” she should do it with someone other than a footman as her husband enters the room and tells Palmerston the prince is looking for him.
Albert confronts Palmerston about the village but Palmerston claims the people chose to start new lives in America and he helped them do so. Albert reveals he has spoken to Magee and knows Palmerston thought his villagers were “dirty papists”, however Palmerston says Magee is a poacher and not a gamekeeper. Palmerston claims Magee likes causing mischief and he has sent him to prison several times for poaching. Albert walks away, claiming Palmerston has an answer for everything, to which Palmerston accuses Albert of giving him such simple puzzles to solve.
As Victoria departs for Dublin, Emily advises her to get Cardinal Ronan (Christopher Dunne) on side if she wants to keep Ireland close. Smiling, Victoria hopes she will see Emily in London soon and Emily gives her word she will be there. Lord Palmerston passionately kisses his wife goodbye and she tells him to give his mistress her regards.
Arriving in Dublin, Victoria is haunted by memories of the attempted assassination and she alights from her carriage to the silence of the crowd. As Victoria makes her way up the steps, Palmerston introduces her to Cardinal Ronan and Victoria apologises for not having visited Ireland much sooner. Victoria then thanks Cardinal Ronan for bringing his church to meet hers and says it is a great honour. Cardinal Ronan, moved by her words, says he is honoured to meet her and hopes they can all move towards peace. He presents the queen with a caged dove as a gift.
Victoria assures the crowd she had not come here to tread on the authority of His Holiness the Pope but to merely deliver a pledge to help restore Ireland to its former strength. She says as the dove is Irish, it deserves to be returned to its home. Victoria frees the dove from the cage and it flies away. The crowd applauds.
Back at the palace, Albert is impressed when Bertie greets him in French and Victoria greets Vicky warmly. As Victoria moves away with the children, Feodora asks if the trip was a success to which Albert replies Palmerston made it appear so. Feodora once again comments on how childlike Victoria is to believe in Palmerston.
That evening, Victoria is listening to Bertie say his prayers when she notices a rash on his arm but Bertie moves away and wishes her a goodnight. The following morning, Victoria comments to Albert about how unhappy Bertie appeared while saying his prayers but Albert accuses her of putting too much store in happiness. He tells her she revelled in the cheers of the Irish people but doubts they will have the same faith in her now that she is home. Victoria maintains the trip was a meaningful one but Albert remains unconvinced.
Later, Abigail Turner (Sabrina Bartlett), tells Victoria she is right to be concerned about Berties’s tutor and hints the household is worried. As Victoria marches to the schoolroom, she hears Bertie crying out in pain and she barges into the room in time to see Caine twisting the young prince’s arm. A furious Victoria orders Caine to leave but when he advances on her, Bertie intervenes and yells at him not to threaten his mother just as Albert arrives.
Albert is despondent he could make such an error in judgement and tells Victoria he just wanted to be a good father. He tells Victoria he is glad they have no more children for him to damage, however Victoria reveals she is once again pregnant. While Albert congratulates her and kisses her hand, neither seem overjoyed at the thought of a seventh child.
- In 1849, William Hamilton fired a pistol at Victoria’s carriage as she rode down Constitution Hill with three of her children. Hamilton had been forced to leave Ireland because of the potato famine and was tired of poverty and unemployment. He pled guilty and was sentenced to seven years hard labour at the Gibraltar penal colony.
- Queen Victoria took her first trip to Ireland on 2 August 1849, visiting Cork, Dublin and Belfast, at a time when the Great Famine was largely over. Victoria was greeted by enthusiastic crowds, allaying fears for her safety, and the visit was heralded as a great success. The Queen would make four further visits to the country but would never be greeted as warmly as in 1849 as she was increasingly blamed for the lack of response during the famine. Victoria did not stay with Lord Palmerston during her visit and Classiebawn Castle wasn’t constructed until much later.
- Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, had extensive estates in north Sligo but his career in London kept him from visiting them very often. During the famine, he evicted 2,000 of his Irish tenants for non payment of rent and paid for their passage to North America. When they arrived in Canada, the former tenants were so destitute and wretched Palmerston was sent a scathing letter from the people of St John, New Brunswick, attacking him for his lack of empathy and common decency.
- Emily, Viscountess Palmerston, formerly Emily Lamb, was actually the sister of Lord Melbourne although this is never mentioned. At eighteen, Emily married Peter Clavering-Cowper, 5th Earl Cowper, who did not care for society and politics. Emily, by contrast, was a social butterfly, and it wasn’t long before she was having a series of affairs, including a longterm liaison with Lord Palmerston. After Cowper’s death, Emily married Palmerston by which time they were both in their fifties. Emily’s second child, Lady Emily Cowper, was believed to have been fathered by Palmerston.
- Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, was born on 1 May 1850, so it is unlikely Victoria was in the early stages of pregnancy during her trip to Ireland, however he was given the name Patrick as one of his middle names.