Jenna Coleman beautifully steps up to her role as the 19th century monarch in ITV's drama Victoria, a period drama focusing on the early reign of one of the most influential Queens in British history following her accession to the throne in 1837.
The show follows the trials and tribulations of the royal court and offers a fascinating glimpse into the personal life and relationships of the woman who went on to become Great Britain's second longest monarch of 63 years. Familiarize yourself with #Victoria in the trailer to the highly-acclaimed drama below:
However, no matter how much Coleman shines in the period drama, you've got to admit – the real Queen Victoria wasn't really as fortunate as her on-screen counterpart in the looks department.
Sweeping this swiftly aside though, how historically accurate does the TV show prove to be? What is the true story behind Victoria? Find out below:
The True Story Behind TV Show 'Victoria'
An Early Life In Isolation
Born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24, 1819, as the only child of George III's fourth son, the young girl grew up in the Royal Palace, where she was educated by a governess. A friendly and warm-hearted child, she loved to draw and paint and soon developed a penchant for writing diaries, which she continued to do throughout her life.
When it came to royal matters, as her father died when she was just 8-months-old, she was raised under close supervision by her overbearing, German-born mother and was regarded as the heir to the throne from before she could even speak. Her father's three older brothers had all died, and neither had left a legitimate successor.
Throughout her childhood, her overprotective mother kept her largely in isolation from other children and prevented the young princess from meeting anyone she did not approve of — a ploy likely to render Victoria weak and dependent solely on the Duchess and her domineering aid, Sir John Conroy. Once Queen, she would go on to ban this man from her presence at first chance.
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Love At First Sight
By 1836, at the age of 17, there were hopes that the young princess would find a perfect match in a suitable husband, and the Duchess's brother Leopold — the King of the Belgians — wished for Victoria to marry his nephew and her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As a result, the Coburgs were invited for a formal visit in May of the same year and from the moment they met, the future Queen was smitten with her suitor. Writing in her diary at the time, she gushed:
"[Albert] is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression, which is most delightful."
She then wrote the following to her uncle Leopold, thanking him for the grand introduction to the man who would later become the love of her life:
"[Thank you] for the prospect of great happiness you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert ... He possesses every quality that could be desired to render me perfectly happy. He is so sensible, so kind, and so good, and so amiable too. He has besides the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance you can possibly see."
From that moment on, as Victoria wasn't quite ready to marry just yet, it was assumed that they would be married at some point in the future.
'I Am Queen'
Shortly after turning 18 years old in May 1837, William IV died and Victoria was forced to take on the greatest responsibility of her life as Queen. She later wrote in her diary how she found out:
"I was awoke at 6 o'clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen."
Now the British sovereign, the teenage monarch became close with the Whig prime minister of the time, Lord Melbourne. Taking her under his wing, he offered her his assistance and was a great political influence, proving to be the father figure she never had. While the story behind the TV show Victoria suggests that she was in love with Melbourne, this couldn't have been further from the truth. Speaking of Queen's close relationship with the prime minister, English historian Professor Jane Ridley makes a solid point:
"We would certainly know if Victoria was in love with Melbourne. Victoria’s frank, vivid and detailed account makes it abundantly clear that she didn’t fancy Melbourne, let alone contemplate marrying him. [He] was urbane and witty, but at sixty he wasn’t nearly as handsome as [actor] Rufus Sewell – and he had become enormously fat."
A Loving Marriage To 'Dear Albert'
In 1840, the young Queen finally married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha after she proposed to him in October 1839. By this point, their mutual affection for each other was overwhelming and on her wedding night, Victoria once again took to her diary to express her ecstatic feeling about the match:
"I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert ... his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!"
Over the next few years, the couple remained inseparable — even though their strong personalities often clashed in epic fights. However, this certainly didn't curb their passionate relationship and deep adoration for each other as Victoria went on to birth 9 children over the course of their time together until her King's tragic death of typhoid fever in 1861. Following this, the Queen went into a 25-year seclusion at a time when her beloved country rose to become one of the most powerful Empires in the world.
So, there you go — the true story behind Victoria, a fascinating look into the early reign of Britain's revered Queen.
Were you already familiar with the true story behind TV show Victoria?
(Sources: TIME, Wikipedia)