Victoria series Queen Victoria Prince Albert

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert in Victoria (Courtesy of Gareth Gatrell/ITV Plc for Masterpiece)

She’s just given birth to her first child, Victoria, and discovered that she didn’t like pregnancy at all. “Confinement does not suit me,” she says in the drama. It is, she said in real life, an “unhappy condition.” Being a mother doesn’t come naturally. “Do you like them? Right away?” she asks her outgoing mistress of the robes while looking at her sleeping daughter.

At the beginning of season two of the hit drama Victoria, the young, beautiful Queen Victoria realizes she likes being monarch. She likes knowing what’s going on in her growing empire. The young queen is not happy at so many people attempting to keep her confined to her role as mother to a future heir, especially when one of those persons is her husband, Prince Albert.

QUEEN VICTORIA’S PROBLEM

The christening of the sovereign’s first child in Victoria (Courtesy of Gareth Gattrell/ITV pic for Masterpiece)

While away on her era’s version of pregnancy-maternity leave, Albert undertook her state duties, reading official documents and making decisions. He enjoys the job, perhaps too much for his wife. And that creates conflict with his wife when Victoria seeks to take back the reins of her reign. “It may be your regiment, Albert, but it is my army,” she tells her husband in the first of a series of arguments.

So, naturally she explodes when she discovers that Albert and her prime minister, Robert Peel, haven’t told her about the disastrous outcome of the military campaign in Afghanistan with the routed British forces are retreating through the notoriously dangerous Khyber Pass in winter. (It would be an utter defeat.) “The one man I thought I could trust has deceived me,” Victoria throws at her husband. “I tried to shelter you,” he responds, asking if she’s fatigued. “I am not tired, Albert, I am angry.” Her trust in her husband is shaken. It’s left to Albert’s brother to point out the obvious to his sibling: “Victoria may think that you are trying to control her.”

Their relationship, in real life and in the drama, was tempestuous and volatile. His love of intellectual pursuits—mathematics, even early computer sciences in the hands of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, as well as improving health conditions and sanitary practices—were alienating to his rather ill-educated wife.

AN OLD FRIEND’S ADVICE FOR QUEEN VICTORIA

When Queen Victoria finds out she’s pregnant again, less than a year after having Victoria, she cries, “I feel like I’m going to prison.” It’s left to an old ally, Lord Melbourne, to tell Queen Victoria what is so obvious to everyone but the monarch: She should rely on the man who is her future and who will always be by her side, Prince Albert.