Making the Grades
At sixty-three years and seven months, Queen Victoria holds the records as longest ruler of the United Kingdom, and the longest reigning female monarch of all time. Her period on the throne (known as the Victorian Era) encompassed great changes in science and industry, while her influence was felt in fashion, morality and the arts.
Yet she wasn’t always the stalwart image of the British Empire that she now epitomizes. Once upon a time, she was a child uncertain of the world and the elaborate protocol into which she was born. It is the story of this “Young Victoria” which is told in this film.
Despite her youth, Victoria (Emily Blunt) has become increasingly aware of the critical position she holds. As the only legitimate offspring to be produced from three aging brothers entitled to the British throne, she stands next in line to wear the crown. Nor is she blind to the ambitious intentions of the people around her especially her mother, The Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), and her advisor Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong).
With the present monarch’s health failing, the Duchess and her right-hand-man are putting pressure on the naive princess to sign a Regency Order that will give them governing power until she becomes of legal age. Defiantly refusing their persuasive attempts, the heiress presumptive gambles that the elderly King William IV (Jim Broadbent) will live past her eighteenth birthday so she can succeed to the throne directly. And she wins this bet.
However, assuming the title of Queen only increases the stakes. And there are many trying to take advantage of her inexperience for their personal gain. Amongst them is the British Prime Minister Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), who flatters his way into her confidences and is soon making many decisions for her. Her uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann), is also earnestly attempting to arrange a marriage for her to his nephew (and her first cousin) Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Rupert Friend). Although she does not want to be a pawn in any of these political antics, she soon realizes (thanks to some wise council from her aspiring suitor) that if she plans to survive, she needs to learn how to play their game.
While ulterior motives in the royal court play a part in this biographical production, much of the drama revolves around the feelings Victoria has for the dashing (and unexpectedly intelligent) Albert. Love scenes between the two include kissing, caressing and a moment when the married couple begin to undress one another. Other possible concerns are the depiction of smoking and social drinking (on one occasion a character appears drunk), along with the use of mild profanity. Violence briefly occurs when a rock is thrown through a window and a pistol is fired (some blood from an injury is shown).
There is no question the movie offers a romantic view of these historical figures. Still, there is great charm in watching the balance this pair finds as Victoria takes her first faltering footsteps along the path that will eventually lead her to become the head of a powerful nation.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Young Victoria.
One of the issues Victoria and Albert have to address is: Who is the boss? As Queen, Albert is Victorias subject. As husband, Albert expects to lead of their marriage and domestic affairs. How do they deal with these roles? How would you handle with them? Do you feel it is a Victorian ideal for the man to be the head of the house?