How Historically Accurate Is 'Victoria'? The PBS Drama Gives New Life To The British Queen
Royals, they're so hot right now! Well, at least in the world of TV. Netflix's The Crown just slayed the Golden Globes with the show taking home the prize for Best TV Series, Drama, and Claire Foy winning Best Actress for her role as Queen Elizabeth II of England. Now PBS is going a little further back in time to give you a history lesson on Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman), who had been the longest reigning British monarch before Elizabeth II. Of course, a series chronicling the life of a real-life person such as this has me wondering how historically accurate Victoria will be.
Well, most historical series take a certain degree of artistic license and dramatization, but it seems that Victoria is very much rooted in reality. Series creator and writer Daisy Goodwin was inspired by Victoria's journals, which she began writing at the age of 13 in 1832 all the way until her death at age 81 in 1901, according to PBS' website. These days, Queen Victoria's journals can be accessed with a subscription to a website set up by ProQuest, the Royal Archives, and the Bodleian Libraries.
Some of the queen's actual closest confidants have also made it into Victoria, from her beloved Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Dash, to Prime Minister Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell). Regarding that latter individual, the series decided to change him up a little during his translation from history to the screen. "In real life, Melbourne was 40 years Victoria's senior; their complicated friendship is present in Victoria's diaries, but a younger Melbourne in a quasi-romantic context is certainly more palatable to viewers, given the queen's tender age!" PBS describes on the show's website.
PBS has teased that, in addition to being an adviser to Victoria, Lord Melbourne will be something of a love interest for her in the series. "Daisy (Goodwin, the script writer) has captured the truth in essence of their relationship," Victoria's historical adviser A.N. Wilson told The Telegraph in an article that features some spoilers for the series. "Of course, they did not have a physical relationship, and marriage would have been out of the question. But they did love one another.”
Historian Jane Ridley begs to differ in an op-ed for The Telegraph about Victoria. She writes that we would know if Victoria had romantic feelings for Lord Melbourne from her journals, and in them, she describes him more "as the father figure she had never had" since her own dad, Prince Edward, passed away when she was just a young girl.
Of course, Victoria famously ended up having eyes for only one man, and that was Prince Albert (Tom Hughes), who she would eventually marry in 1840. We'll have to wait and see how Victoria portrays Prince Albert and his relationship with the monarch, but PBS describes him and the queen as having "clashing personalities" that make for "a difficult courtship." However, then-Princess Victoria recounts a pleasant-sounding first meeting with Prince Albert in 1836 in one letter to her uncle, King Leopold I of the Belgians, who encouraged these two to get together:
I must thank you, my beloved Uncle, for the prospect of great happiness, you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert. Allow me, then, my dearest Uncle, to tell you how delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. 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.
It wasn't until the couple's second meeting in 1839 that they actually fell in love, according to the Royal Archives. In his letters to Victoria, Prince Albert also writes romantic messages. However, Victoria proposed to Prince Albert in 1839 because he didn't feel like he could take the liberty to pop the question to the Queen of England.
Since Victoria is a TV series where none of the people from the queen's reign are still alive to advise on what really went down way back when, the show will definitely not be 100 percent accurate. But with Queen Victoria's diaries as a guiding force for the series, it seems like it really can't go too wrong. Plus, with stunning visuals, captivating performances, and lots and lots of drama, Victoria is sure to bring the legendary queen alive for a whole new generation.