Victoria Season 1 Recap: “The Queens Husband”


Victoria discovers that life as a married woman is not as easy when one is the Queen of the biggest empire the world has ever known.

After last week’s major wedding episode, tonight’s aftermath as Victoria and Albert get used to the concept of married life while on display was a strange, and sometimes hilarious interplay of reversed gender roles. After all, the “queen’s husband” doesn’t have much to do except sit around and be pampered, while she’s off running an empire that the sun never sets upon. And despite the worries of the various parliamentarians, she has no interest in having him help.

Victoria: Why don’t you play something on the piano, so I can hear it from my desk?

In these traditional romances, it’s usually the woman who is seen immediately jumping from the bedchamber to the babies. Here, Albert is the first to bring it up, only days into the marriage, and how much he wants to start a family. Meanwhile Victoria looks askance at the idea of more responsibility. And for once it’s not just due to being annoyed at having one’s domestic bliss interrupted by squalling infants. After all, she’d be the one actually having to give birth to the damn things. Downton Abbey already effectively portrayed how easily childbirth can go wrong for women nearly a century later. Our queen looks positively ill at the prospect of being done in by childbirth.

Shown from left to right: Jenna Coleman as Victoria and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert

(C) ITV Pic

Still, despite her not actually wanting to give Albert a job, other than the occasional piano man gig, blotting her signature, taking care of the thank you notes from the wedding, and blowing dust off the books, she wants to make him feel important. This includes throwing an entire state dinner, just so he can escort her in — which then hilariously fails, as Victoria bows to the reality of smart politics. (Well, are you going to complain about the excuse to stage a period piece royal state dinner? Especially one where the dogs wear jewelry? No, you are not.)

"Duke of Wellington: Your honeymoon was not a long campaign ma’am.Victoria: Why Duke, I don’t regard marriage as a battlefield."

But despite the trappings of gender reversal, Victoria continues to make the queen sort of an embarrassing lightweight, while giving the gravitas to Albert. (And when she does come up with something clever, note that credit is given to Lord M for teaching her.) While trying to make Albert feel important with things that don’t matter — like who walks in to dinner first — Victoria continues to undermine the one thing everyone tells him will make him important: siring an heir. Her struggles to keep from getting pregnant include delving into bizarre old wives tales. (When Lehzen whispered to her and she popped back in shock saying “Ten times?!” did anyone else immediately jump to “He ran into my knife ten times!” Or was that just me?)

Shown: Tom Hughes as Prince Albert

(C) ITV Plc

Meanwhile Albert is allowed to come up with his own way of feeling important without her: taking on anti-slavery as a cause. At first this seems like a bit of a sop to the US viewers across the pond — after all, it was known from the beginning that Victoria would air on PBS in the Downton slot. (Even if the American accent by the British actor playing the runaway slave hurts hard.) But the politics of the matter turn out to be actually more important. Robert Peel, who is one of the anti-Albert crowd, is in attendance, and the two of them on the same side is going to help pave the way for Peel’s eventual ascent into the role of Victoria’s next prime minister.

"Duchess of Kent: Our little queen has gotten rather good at getting what she wants!Duke of Wellington: Women."

Down below stairs, the trials of Ms. Skerrett continue. The third Indian Cholera pandemic began in 1839, just ahead of Victoria’s marriage to Albert, and in this episode the outbreak closes down the area of the Seven Dials, where the real Eliza and her baby live. Francatelli not only makes his way into the diseased area, but pays Eliza and the baby’s way out of the city (and out of Ms. Skerrett’s hair and life, actually. How wonderfully convenient.) In return, he demands her name — her real name. We already knew it was Nancy, but the real question is what does he plan to do with it? Other than make a really pretty N out of sugar paste?

Shown from left to right: Tom Hughes as Prince Albert and Jenna Coleman as Victoria

(C) ITV Plc

With only two more episodes of the show to go, Victoria’s ridiculous “jumping up and down” routine obviously won’t stand for long. Albert , after an episode of being quite attractive descends back into fedora-behavior by sexually threatening her with abstinence if she won’t have his babies. (Seriously, has anyone heard of condoms in this place?) Clearly that won’t stand either. Also (spoiler alert), we know from history that their first child, the Princess Royal Victoria, was born almost 9 months and two weeks after her wedding, so chances are she’s already with child by the end of the episode, even if she hasn’t noticed yet.

Next: Victoria Season 1 Recap “An Ordinary Woman”

Next week: Victoria will indeed be with child, and absolutely freaked out at the idea that the process could kill her. Let’s hope whatever old wives’ tale she’s given to survive the process works a little better than her attempts at not getting pregnant in the first place. Meanwhile, with history telling us that Robert Peel will be Prime Minister by next season, Albert continues to quietly work the behind the scenes politics to help his wife get ready to deal with Tories on a regular basis.