A&E Original Movie
Victoria and Albert (4 Parts)
Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire for nearly sixty-four years, returning dignity and popularity to the British crown. Victoria assumed the crown in 1837, an inexperienced and seemingly unqualified girl of eighteen. For most of her life, Victoria had been controlled by her mother, with whom her relationship was very strained. Victoria married her cousin, Prince Albert of Germany, and quickly grew deeply devoted to him. Following the ouster of her first prime minister, Lord Melville, Victoria also became heavily dependent upon Albert as an advisor. The Queen often referred to her husband as “king in everything but name.” This story of Victoria and Albert’s life together traces their evolving relationship within the context of a modernizing British civilization.
Victoria and Albert is suitable for high school students in European history and literature classes.
Victoria and Albert fulfills the following National Standards for World History for grades 5–12: Historical Thinking Standards 1 (Chronological Thinking), 2 (Historical Comprehension), and 3 (Historical Analysis and Interpretation) for Era 7, Standards 2 and 4.
Regarding Discussion Questions to follow:
Relationships, and how they change over time, are major themes of Victoria & Albert. The following excerpts have been chosen as illuminations of these themes. Because of the length of this film, you may find it effective to use these short clips in class as focal points for discussion. Show each clip in class and then have students answer the accompanying questions, either as part of a class discussion or as a written exercise. (Set the counter on your VCR to 00:00 at the beginning of the film and follow the rough time codes given.) The questions are listed in chronological order and include Parts I and II.
Opening scene (about 00:00 to 02:30): On the basis of this scene, what do you imagine the relationship between Victoria and Albert to be? What kind of person do you think Victoria is? Explain your answers, using specific details, actions, and words from the film to support your position.
Victoria and Albert (about 02:45 to 05:15): Does this encounter between Victoria and Albert confirm your answers to the questions about the previous scene? Explain. Do Victoria and Albert seem compatible in this scene?
Encounter with King William (about 14:30 to 22:00, beginning with the gathering at Windsor Castle): What does this scene tell you about Victorias relationship with her mother? About King Williams relationship with Victoria and with her mother? What does the final encounter between King William and his minister tell you about the state of the British monarchy at this moment in history?
Victoria takes power (about 38:00 to 48:00): What do you learn about Victorias position as queen? What adjectives would you use to describe her as ruler? In what ways does Victorias relationship with her mother evolve as Victoria assumes the throne? What kind of relationship do Victorias mother and her advisor, Sir John, have? What stake does Sir John have in keeping Victoria under her mothers control?
Victoria and Albert meet again (1:02:30 to 1:09:30): Stop the tape after Victoria and Alberts first exchange, as she receives him at her court. What do you think Victoria feels at this moment? How does this meeting differ from their first encounter at the beginning of the film? Finish viewing the clip. Are you surprised by the outcome? What do Victorias actions and words tell you about her feelings? How do you think Albert feels at the end of this scene?
Married Life (just before 1:18:00 to 1:23:30): What does this scene reveal about the complexity of Victoria and Alberts relationship? How do politics interfere in their relationship? Why are Victoria and Albert at odds? What do you learn about each characters desire to protect his or her position?
Albert as advisor (35:45 to 36:50): How does Victoria react to Alberts interference in state matters? What does her reaction reveal about the changes in Victoria and Alberts relationship? Do you think that Alberts feelings have changed? If so, how?
Turning point (41:15 to 47:00): This scene in many ways marks the turning point in Victoria and Alberts relationship. Explain what has happened to change Victorias attitude toward Alberts participation in state affairs. How does their relationship as husband and wife overlap with their duties as heads of state?
Mother and daughter (1:04:45, beginning with Victoria at her ailing mothers side to 1:08:30): By the end of the film, Victorias relationship with her mother has changed drastically. What events or circumstances have altered their relationship?
Reporter for the Victorian Age. This film shows us a very narrow view of life in Victorian England, namely the privileged existence of the royal family. Have your students do additional research on life in London during the Victorian Age (18371901), choosing one aspect or event that you would like to report on to your classmates. Have students write brief reports, as if they were a journalist writing articles for the newspaper, that describe this event or this aspect of Victorian England. When all members of the class have presented their reports, publish them together in a newspaper of the Victorian Age.
Victorian Literature. In her first encounter with Albert, Victoria praises the Romantic poet Lord Byron, and Albert subsequently gives her a copy of Byrons work. Queen Victoria also enjoyed the novels of Charles Dickens, who is considered one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era. Have students find and read poems or novels by authors or poets of the Victorian era and write short reports explaining how this work is or is not a good representation of the character of Victorian life, as shown in the film. Ask students to cite specific examples from the works that they have read.
Modernizing Great Britain. Have students watch the following segment from the film on the Great Exhibition, held in 1851: (just after 57:00 to 1:01). The Great Exhibition, held in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, was meant to showcase Britains wealth and technological achievements to the world. Have students do additional research on the technological changes taking place in Great Britain during this era, and create an advertisement or broadside publicizing one aspect of this modernization.