Time for more twisted history and costume jewels in this week’s Victoria recap! Before you read my take on episode seven, “The King Over the Water,” you can catch up on all our previous recaps here.
Victoria and Albert are out for a pleasant drive — until Albert spots a man with a gun.
The royals head back to the palace, but the alleged gunman is nowhere to be found. Victoria, wearing a cameo, thinks they should go back out, so that the man will try once more and can be caught.
Albert thinks the plan is ludicrous, but Peel goes along with it, so Albert brings out his latest invention: a parasol lined with chain mail, to help keep Victoria safe.
The plan works, the would-be assassin is caught, and everybody’s fine. This scene is roughly based on an incident involving the royal carriage, a pistol, and John William Bean, the son of a Clerkenwell jeweler. The “attempt” happened in Green Park in July 1842. As one of the servants points out in the show, Bean claimed that his pistol wasn’t loaded, and he just wanted to be arrested, because he was bored with English life and wanted to be transported to Australia.
But Peel is paranoid about the Queen’s safety, and now Victoria, Albert, and Harriet (who is just about drowning in widow’s weeds) have to bring a military escort with them everywhere they go in public.
Ernst, who is still inexplicably around, says that the soldiers remind him of being in Prussia.
He tracks down Harriet, who is drawing in the garden. (We get a good look at a diamond finger on her left hand as she draws.) He expresses condolences, but she’s having none of it. I still don’t know why the show didn’t invent fictional characters for these soapy story lines. Harriet’s husband didn’t die until 1861, and Ernst was off living with his wife in Coburg by 1842.
Meanwhile, Victoria wears pearls and chats with Lehzen about Sir Walter Scott and his Scottish novels. She’s always wanted to go to Scotland.
Inspired, she tracks down basically everyone in the palace, including Peel and Drummond, and announces that she’s busting out of the military-occupied place and heading to the Highlands.
In Scotland, the royal party is greeted at Blair Castle by their host, the Duke of Atholl. Victoria and Albert really did stay at Blair Castle in 1844, and Victoria was most impressed by the Atholl Highlanders, the Duke’s personal bodyguards. (This wasn’t her first visit to Scotland; she and Albert previously traveled to Edinburgh in 1842.)
The show is simplifying the Atholl ducal history a bit here. The man depicted in this episode is George Murray, 6th Duke of Atholl, but when he hosted Victoria in 1844, he was still Lord Glenlyon. George inherited the Atholl title from his childless, “mad” (in Victorian terminology) uncle, the 5th Duke, in 1846. By that time, George had been managing the family estates for almost a decade.
Victoria wears the replica sapphire tiara for dinner and entertainment. These are the royal faces when they realize that they’re about to be subjected to performative Scottish poetry recitation.
For once, the servants are having way more fun.
Everyone is rudely awakened the next morning by bagpipes. Albert can’t stand them. Victoria sort of likes them.
In fact, Victoria’s pretty much in love with everything about Scotland, especially their headgear and their spectacular natural scenery.
She even lets Albert teach her how to fly fish, which is apparently the Victorian equivalent of showing a girl how to shoot pool.
And then, she and Albert get lost. That’s honestly most of the plot of the episode. Everyone back at the castle, naturally, freaks out. People share blame. Search parties are deployed.
Victoria and Albert end up having to stay overnight in a cottage with an elderly Scottish couple. (They, of course, don’t reveal who they really are.) The wife is visibly annoyed with Victoria’s imperiousness, which is pretty funny, and she makes the Queen help with the dishes after they eat.
The next morning, when Vic ‘n Al still haven’t shown up, Drummond decides that they need to inform Peel.
But he doesn’t have to, because the Highlanders track them down and bring them back.
The news spreads quickly that they’ve been found. Alfred tells Drummond, and they have an emotionally-fraught hug. Ernst goes to tell Harriet, who is wearing a golden pendant with her mourning attire. She apologizes for telling him that he ruined her marriage while she was worried about the Queen.
And then a few scenes later, we see her reaching for his hand. Ugh, Harriet. He’s a sovereign foreign duke with syphilis, lady. BAD IDEA, even fictionally.
Later that night, when everyone gathers for a formal dinner, Alfred and Drummond sneak off to dance with the servants and canoodle by a lake.
Unfortunately, Wilhelmina has also snuck out of the castle in her dinner jewels, and she catches them smooching. (Again, these two people, who had a LOT to lose, would have kept their canoodling much more private. And then Wilhelmina apparently says nothing about what she saw, to them or to anyone else?)
Meanwhile, Victoria, wearing production-invented ruby jewels, tells Atholl that she wishes she didn’t have to go back to England. He reminds her that she’s Queen of the Scots, and they talk about Bonnie Prince Charlie and Jacobites and Culloden. (Maybe she should go find Claire Fraser’s stone circle while she’s in the area?)
Back in London, Lehzen shows Victoria a book of her old drawings. Lehzen gets very emotional about Victoria being all grown up now, and Victoria assures her that neither of them are going anywhere. (Don’t bank on it, Lehzen.)
Harriet, who is also feeling pretty emotional, has a chat with Victoria about feeling hemmed in now that they’re back from Scotland.
Peel comes by to prep Victoria for the next day’s State Opening of Parliament, letting her know that there’s been a change in the way punishment is handed out to people who try to scare her by waving unloaded pistols in her direction.
Lehzen puts the production’s replica of the Diamond Diadem on Victoria’s head as she preps to go to parliament. She should not be allowed to be in charge of Diadem Placement.
When Victoria gets home, she ditches all the trappings of royalty as fast as she can.
Poor replica diadem, abandoned and alone while Vic ‘n Al play Scottish Cottage at the palace…