Queen Victoria. She is known for being the ruler of a great empire, becoming queen at 18, and she is one of the world’s most famous matriarchs. Much of her personal life was defined by her austere upbringing and her undying love for her husband, Prince Albert, whose untimely death plunged her into deep mourning…
The UK’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, was so significant that an era was named after her – including many of the traits of that era, like morality. She has been the subject of many films and TV series in popular culture, both in the serious and comedic light, and her complex personality still fascinates today.
May 24 will be Victoria’s 196th birthday – so to celebrate, here are some of the best films and TV series focusing on her life:
Victoria the Great (1937)
It’s an oldie but a good one filled with old Hollywood glamour. The film focuses on the years between Queen Victoria (Anna Neagle)’s accession to the throne and her later years. The love story between the queen and Prince Albert (Anton Walbrook) is, of course, a major part. The film was released a century after the real Victoria was crowned in 1837.
The Prime Minister (1941)
Another oldie but also an interesting watch. Queen Victoria (Fay Compton) is a supporting character in the recount of prime minister and writer Benjamin Disraeli’s life. Upon the suggestion of Mary Ann Wyndham-Lewis (Diana Wynyard) who has read his novels, Disraeli seeks to become part of parliament by gaining support from his peers and members of the Conservative Party. Eventually he becomes a favourite of the queen.
The Mudlark (1950)
A heart-warming and fictionalised story of how Victoria (Irene Dunne), the grieving widow, came out of the shadows by a street urchin. He attempts to visit the queen because he is told that she’s the “mother of all England”, but he is caught and suspected for being a part of an assassination plot.
Victoria in Dover (1954)
A German fictionalised biopic on Victoria (Romy Schneider) during her early reign. She is arranged to be married to a Prince Albert, much to her dismay. To distract her impending doom, Victoria takes a vacation, far away from the court and public eye. En route, she meets and falls in love with a gentleman (Adrian Hoven). Unknown to her, the gentleman is actually Albert.
Edward the Seventh (1975)
It’s a thirteen-part series focusing on the life of Queen Victoria’s eldest son Edward (Timothy West, and Simon Gipps-Kent and Charles Sturridge portray younger versions of Edward). Victoria (Annette Crosbie) appears in the first ten episodes which depict her estranged relationship with her son and her constant dismissal of him from carrying out any duty for the kingdom and her. That must have hurt.
Mrs. Brown (1997)
Queen veteran Judi Dench plays Victoria and was nominated for the Academy Award’s Best Actress. The film focuses on her close friendship with servant John Brown (Billy Connolly) who helped her cope with losing Albert. But there are forces including her children that threaten to break this friendship off. Will this threat plunge Victoria back into the shadows of grief? Gerard Butler is in this film.
Victoria and Albert (2001)
This mini-series focuses on Victoria and Albert (Victoria Hamilton and Jonathan Firth) as a married (and power) couple and later parents. While Victoria balances family life and her queenly duties, Albert becomes frustrated with doing absolutely nothing but be her husband.
The Young Victoria (2009)
This period masterpiece centres on the rebellious teen Victoria (Emily Blunt) trying to break out of her strict upbringing and her mother (Miranda Richardson) – their estranged relationship is explored and rather heartbreaking, not to mention the tug of war between villainous John Conroy (Mark Strong) and Victoria’s uncles, trying to pull Victoria’s strings to achieve their plans. Conroy wants her to relinquish her future powers to her mother and him, Victoria’s uncle, the King, chooses her to be his successor and attempts to bar Conroy and her mother’s influences, and her other uncle needs her help regarding Belgium.
In between this drama is Victoria developing a relationship with Prince Albert (Rupert Friend). What’s interesting is that their love isn’t all lovey-dovey or raunchy. There’s a certain calmness to their passion for each other and respect on both sides, but they do have their fights.