07 March 2017

Jewels on Film: VICTORIA (Episode 7, "Young England")

Time for our final Victoria recap of the season, everyone! If you need to catch up on any of our previous recaps, you can find them here.

Several months have passed since the end of the last episode, and Victoria is SICK and TIRED of being pregnant. Albert's half listening, half cracking up at the puns in the latest issue of Punch. We get our first "we are not amused" from Victoria in retort.

While Victoria waits to give birth already, both of her kingly uncles -- Ernst of Hanover and Leopold of Belgium -- have descended on London. They have a little sneering showdown at their club. They've both come in anticipation of the royal birth, but Leopold's there awaiting a christening, while Ernst appears to hope for a less joyous outcome. If Victoria and the baby both die -- like Leopold's first wife and child -- Ernst becomes Britain's king. (This visit didn't happen. Ernst only returned to the UK once after becoming King of Hanover, to attend the wedding of Princess Augusta of Cambridge in 1843.)

In a garrett elsewhere in London, we get our first glimpse of Edward Oxford, Victoria's would-be assassin, who is plotting away -- and we get hints that we're supposed to believe that the Hanoverians have a hand in his plans. (The Oxford attempt actually happened in June 1840; this episode takes place in October/November 1840.)

Peel advises his BFF, Prince Albert, to watch out for the King of Hanover, reminding him that Ernst is next in line to the throne.

Victoria, wearing a bit of hair jewelry and a pendant necklace, wishes that people waited until after the birth to send baby gifts -- she feels like it's all tempting fate.

And then another Ernst arrives back on English shores, too. Albert's brother has groomed his carefully-contoured sideburns just for Harriet, clearly. (This trip is fictional; Ernst did not come to England for his niece's birth.)

Emma, Harriet, and their aggressive forehead pendants are a little shocked to see him. (FUN FACT: some believe that ferronnieres were originally used to cover up marks caused by syphilis. And guess what the real-life Ernst was suffering from in the late 1830s and early 1840s??? Very convenient.)

Emma scurries off, and Ernst pitches some major woo. Harriet remains married.

Even though she's accessorized with a rather nice pendant necklace, Victoria is BORED. She wants to go for a drive in the park.

The Duchess of Kent, who is wearing her daytime tiara hair-comb thing with a choker necklace purchased in 1993, is worried that the horses will bolt. Victoria ignores her.

Meanwhile, Oxford indulges in a spot of target practice.

But first: a fake-out. Victoria's drive is interrupted by a delusional man who is in love with her and wants to whisk her away to a house in Paternoster Row. He just wants to free her from "the German tyrant." Not the BEST way to approach a monarch, unless you're looking to relocate to a nineteenth-century asylum.

After hearing about the attempted attack, Albert tells Victoria that he thinks she should stay at home from now on. She bristles at the idea.

Victoria wears diamonds and the wee little Albert Brooch for an audience with Uncle Hanover at the palace. He brings up the possibility of Albert serving as regent (and, by extension, Victoria dying in childbirth) in front of Victoria, which seems like exceedingly bad manners indeed. She dismisses him; he issues a vague threat and then leaves.

Albert finds out that the man who approached Victoria has been sending letters for years and calls Lehzen in to reprimand her for not nipping the problem in the bud sooner.

Days are supposed to have passed since Ernst's arrival, but Harriet's still wearing the same gown and jewels. He plays the piano sadly. She's still married.

Much to Albert's chagrin, Victoria insists on going out for her daily drive. He decides he'd better go with her.

And, of course, Oxford chooses this particular day to try to kill them. (Victoria was four months pregnant when the Oxford attempt actually took place, not about to give birth.)

Back at the palace, Victoria's doctor checks her over...

...while the Duchess of Kent and King Leopold chastise her for being careless. The Duchess of Kent thinks Hanover must have masterminded the assassination plot -- after all, he was suspected of murdering his valet.

(This story is true! Well, it's true that there were suspicions, anyway. Ernst was indeed a suspect in the death of his valet, Joseph Sellis, in 1810. But the story is pretty complicated, and no one was ever able to prove that Ernst had any involvement. Regardless, it became one of the many scandals that was widely-believed about Ernst, who was disliked intensely by the British people.)

A policeman briefs Peel and Albert on the investigation into Edward Oxford. (FUN FACT: Robert Peel established London's Metropolitan Police in 1829 while serving as home secretary; that's why they're sometimes still called "bobbies" today!)

This particular bobby tells them that they found a letter telling Oxford to await instructions from Hanover. Albert panics.

King Ernst cannot believe that no one wants to hang out with him at the club. He complains to Peel, who sort of shrugs -- what does he expect, given the evidence? (FUN FACT: King Ernst really did have a disfiguring scar over his eye, because he took a saber to the face during a battle in 1793.)

Meanwhile, the bobbies are interrogating Oxford, who is madder than a box of frogs. He's clearly decided that this is Batman, and he's the Joker. The police figure out that Oxford's guns weren't actually loaded, and he wrote the letters "from Hanover" himself.

Victoria is upset when she finds out that Oxford may be found not guilty by reason of insanity. She wears the same jewelry from an earlier scene here, and repeats it again for an audience with Uncle Ernst. He crows about the fact that he wasn't involved with the Oxford plot, and then brags about shredding the Hanoverian constitution, so he can punish an attacker any way he sees fit. Lovely. (FUN FACT: He really did toss out the constitution in Hanover. My Hanoverian ancestors ended up shipping off to America. Thanks, King Ernst!)

She rather coolly informs Ernst that she's a better monarch than he could ever hope to be and strides purposefully out of the room. This scene would have been a great historical mic drop if it had really happened -- but, of course, it didn't. He wasn't anywhere near Britain at this point in time.

Same jewelry, different dress as Vic 'n Al sit down to their correspondence. They argue a little about Lehzen, and then Peel comes in. Oxford's heading to Bedlam at Her Majesty's pleasure -- which means he'll be locked up as long as she wants. (This really happened; he was incarcerated for decades, and he eventually ended up in Australia.)

Sidenote: Where in the world is Lord Melbourne??? Peel's STILL not the Prime Minister. Melbourne didn't really just pack up his broken heart and stop governing. (I miss you, Rufus!)

To prove she's not afraid, Victoria drags Albert with her for another drive. It all goes swimmingly.

That evening, Ernst and Harriet rendezvous. She lets him take down her hair -- but just the back, and the forehead jewelry stays firmly in place. Maybe that thing is glued on??? Harriet ends up giving him a lock of her hair as a love token. She keeps the ferronniere, naturally.

Victoria is balancing a plate of sweets on her belly as Leopold attempts to give her some insight about his experience with Princess Charlotte -- precisely what she wants to hear, I'm sure. But she ends up sharing her snack with him, and they have a little bonding moment. Jenna Coleman rather hilariously eats her way through this entire scene.

(One bone to pick here: Leopold tells Victoria that he converted to Catholicism when becoming King of the Belgians, but that never happened.)

Victoria goes in to labor. She's freaked out by all of the prominent men waiting just outside the door -- that old relic of the warming-pan rumors during the birth of James II's son. She tells Albert to clear them all out.

And then, to the complete, unmitigated delight of the Duchess of Kent, Victoria calls for her mother.

(A little historical fact-checking: the baby was born on the afternoon of November 21, 1840; Albert was present at the birth; a group of high-ranking men were waiting in the next room, and Lord Melbourne was among them; the door was left open between the rooms. Directly after the birth, Albert went downstairs and represented Victoria at a Privy Council meeting for the first time.)

Church bells ring out to herald the birth of the baby princess. Albert proposes that they should name her Victoria, "after a great queen." (The baby's full name? Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa. She shared names with her mother and maternal grandmother, both Victoria/Victoire; Queen Adelaide; Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester; and Prince's Albert's mother, Louise. She would go on to become Empress of Germany.)

This happy little family tableau is our final shot of the season. They've already commissioned a second, so I suppose this is how we say goodbye to Victoria -- but only for now.