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The story opens on the morning of 20 June 1837, when the Lord Chamberlain and Archbishop of Canterbury arrive to inform young Princess Victoria that her uncle, William IV, is dead, and that she is now queen. The new queen's mother and her adviser, Baron Stockmar, have been used to seeing their opinions prevail with Victoria, but now she is on the throne, she makes an effort to assert herself and show that she will not be a mere puppet. However, she agrees to confirm Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne in his place. Melbourne advises Victoria to marry, and suggests her German cousin, Prince Albert. The two appear incompatible but soon find that they are in love. As Prince Consort, Albert becomes frustrated that he is given no role in governing the country and by his powerless role as husband to the queen. Though Sir Robert Peel suggests that Victoria share some of the burdens of the crown with her husband, she refuses, on the grounds that the people would reject Albert as an interfering ...
It was inspired casting to give the part of Prince Albert to Anton Walbrook while Anna Neagle looked far too glamorous as the Princess Victoria when compared to the many photos extant of her which show a rather plain dumpy woman about 4ft 11ins in height.I've always been a fan of Anton Walbrook ever since I saw him as Lermontov in "The Red Shoes" and as the menacing fraudster who tries to drive his wife mad in "Gaslight" (1940).I can still hear that slow, menacing, Teutonic voice - "you're going mad my dear".It is so much more satisfying when an actor is the same nationality as his character as it gives verisimilitude to the portrayal.
The producer cannot change the historical facts but I liked the parade of famous politicians - Lord Melbourne, Gladstone, Disraeli, the Duke of Wellington.Of course the screenwriter included the famous remark attributed to Victoria about Gladstone who was pompous when speaking at their weekly meetings on the affairs of state; " he speaks to me as if he is addressing a public meeting".I was intrigued by the 1840s train, did they arrange for its loan from the railway museum at York? The film accurately shows the effort Albert went to organise "The Great Exhibition" in Hyde Park in 1851.Victoria was loath initially for Albert to help her with the state papers deeming it unconstitutional but later in their marriage he gave her considerable advice and help to such an extents that when he died prematurely in 1861 she was bereft of his counsel.
It was a big learning curve for Albert too learning about the British constitution.As a member of the aristocracy, he was not made to feel welcome when he went to the House of Commons to hear an important debate.He was a talented pianist and amateur scientist hence his idea about the Great Exhibition.The Royal Albert Hall was erected to his memory and is still today a venue for music, concerts, and sporting contests.It was interesting to see Victoria's Gillie Brown portrayed.A newer film has Dame Judy Dench in the role of Victoria and Billy Connelly as Brown in "Mrs Brown" which I believe won an award.Victoria acceded to the throne in 1837 because her uncle, William IV left no issue.She died on 22/1/1901 at Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight so reigned for 64 years beating the 60 year record set by George III from 1760-1820.
If nothing else you will learn a little of modern British history by watching "Victoria the Great".
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