Anybody else watching “Victoria” on PBS?
Anyone else getting royally ticked off at it?
Okay, let’s start at the beginning. It’s lush. It’s glorious. And I KNOW what they are trying to do. They’re trying to make the iconic Victoria more human, more accessible. They’re trying for a certain amount of historical accuracy, such as they can.
But all that aside…
Nobody sits on a throne of a kingdom, never mind an empire, without being SOME sort of badass. And I’m sorry, but there’s more to being a badass than sitting there with a regally tilted little head with its bewitching ringlets and making pronouncements… which go nowhere.
Look, I GET it. A marriage as unequal as that between a regnant Queen and a consort who is NOT a king is problematic, particularly in a culture which was still as masculine and oh so patriarchal as it was in that era. But Albert married Victoria knowing all this. To then go on being as sulky, petulant, and downright disrespectful as he is portrayed in this series, he shouldn’t have lasted a handful of years, never mind a lifetime and nine children. Not if Victoria was any kind of queen.
Sample scene: she pregnant, he out at a dinner to which she asked him not to go but he went anyway, she sends a footman with a message that he should come home. His reply? “Is that a command?”
Two levels to this. The message either comes from a woman he claims to love who is carrying his baby and who might be calling him because, yanno, things might be happening on that front – oe it is a summons from his Queen. Either way, the response is, ‘would you all excuse me, I am needed at home’
But nooooo. Sulky, entitled, arrogant, perhaps downright vengeful Albert asserts his “authority” instead. I just keep getting the feeling that he is trying to get one over the “little woman” who is “unstable” and “hysterical” and “emotional” and he is a man and he knows better and he resents the bejezus of not being given that precedence.
But let’s say she gives him a pass on that one
Sample scene two – he is the one who demands that the court flee London for Isle of Wight whereon stands a house (palace) which HE designed, and where HE reigns (“She’s Queen of England, but he is King of the Isle of Wight.”, another character comments, and it’s spot on. When the Queen frets that she’s been yanked from the throne to feed his little domestic fantasy, he goes all sullen again and says that she just wants “the people’s adulation.”
But he, he puts up a painting in the bathroom which he proudly shows her – the hero Hercules is gazing adoringly at a white naked queen beside him, while he is holding a spindle. Albert comments on it: ‘I’ll be looking at this every time I take a bath. Look at the hero, he’s given up so much for the queen and now she’s teaching him how to spin.’
My god, passive aggressive, much? He is such a a patronizing BASTARD that every time he calls her “liebchen” and professes his undying love, I sneer at the screen. This is supposed to be the great love story of the age. Sorry. Not buying it.
The other day I watched the latest episode. They return to London on Victoria’s fiat. When they get to Buck House, people cheer. “There they are,” Albert says sulkily, “ the people, out to love their queen”. Victoria gets out of the coach, Albert doesn’t. He sits there, sulking, resentful. How DARE a nation love their queen. How DARE that nation be loved by her. More than him. How DARE that nation put him in second place. How DARE THEY.
I want to break a broom handle over his entitled snout. But by the end of the episode Victoria, in nightclothes, her hair in a night braid, pads down a palace corridor to Albert’s study. She tries the door. It’s locked. “Albert, darling, let me in,” she coaxes, trying the handle. He sits inside, his chin in his hands, sulkily silent. She tries the door a couple more times to no avail, and then KICKS the door in a fit of annoyance and flounces away.
A queen in her own palace would wake the house, or at least a steward, and demand a key (this is her house. No door is locked to her here.). Failing that, a couple of hefty kicks to open the door will do. That is the last time the husband gets to sulk at her.
He married her knowing he is subordinate to her. He has disrespected her several times in public, before members of her own government. There is a limit.
No, you don’t want a toadying simpering princeling who pants around your petticoats – but dear god, if you are a queen and you have a husband who does his level best to undermine, demean, and disrepect you… and your reign… where the everliving hell do you draw the line?
I’m starting to be incensed enough to start throwing pillows at the TV screen now. If Victoria (in this show) doesn’t find some backbone soon, I’m sorry, but I’m DONE.
Yes, she’s a constitutional monarch who can’t call the guards to take Albert to the Tower and chop his head off. But if she can’t rule her own household in SOME manner, how on earth is she to be trusted to rule the country?
No wonder she was so attached to Lord Melbourne, her first prime minister. He was never obsequious and fawning, nor did he try putting the queen/woman in her place. He treated her with a deep and heartfelt respect as though she was, at the very least, an equal.
Albert veers between treating her as a fretful blooded broodmare and treating her as a child. I’d have had more than enough of that by the time I’d been married to the idiot for a full year, never mind four, five, six, seven children into it. Enough is enough, dammit. Stiffen your spine. Or just abdicate already, call him King Albert and be done with it.
Needed to vent.
I feel better now.
If I were a tree…
I got to thinking in fairy tale terms – what if people just got buried, when they died, without any sort of monument or headstone. They just get laid into the ground, and eventually a tree grows from the grave. Everyone carries the spirit of a different tree and we might never know which one we are because we’re too close to see.
But we can sometimes tell what other people might be. For instance, Ursula Le Guin is a freaking redwood. My father was a poplar. I have at least one acquaintance who is a strangler fig. If you were to pick a tree for me to become… what would it be?