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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode of "Queen Victoria's Empire" caught me by surprise.
Although the second episode ended with the unexpected death of
Victoria's husband, Albert, this third episode did NOT pick up there
and only talked about her mourning briefly. Much of it is because the
real theme of this series is the British Empire and colonialism during
Victoria's reign and her personal life was really not the theme. For
example, her profligate son who was a disappointment (Edward) is never
even mentioned and although you learn she and Albert had a lot of
children, you never hear about them or learn how the family influence
led to WWI.
Instead, this show is about the struggle between the heart and might of Britain. On one hand, you had Prime Minister Gladstone who wanted to forge a kinder, gentler Britain--one that treated its subjects around the world well and did NOT impose British rule. The famed British explorer Livingston was in many ways an embodied Gladstone's ideals--as he gave his life not only exploring but providing medical care to the masses of Africa. On the other, Prime Minister Disraeli was 100% dedicated towards expansion and imposition of their rule as far as possible. His desire to 'Britainize' the world was obvious when he was able to pull off a sneaky trick--buying the Suez Canal out from under the French who had actually built it! Overall, a very good episode that focuses on the Victorian empire. Well worth seeing and an interesting insight into the oddly popular views of the day that justified expansion and conquest.
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