Victoria: The King Over the Water

Victoria and Albert are out enjoying a lovely drive in the park when Albert spots a man with a gun in the crowd. He yanks his wife down and they race back to the palace, where the general consensus is: ‘hey! Let’s go back out and see if we can lure this nutjob back for a second go!’ Sound plan! What could go wrong? Albert does insist that Victoria shield herself with a giant parasol.

Off they go again, and surprisingly, this rather insane plan works and the man is caught. But, security is seriously tightened up around the queen.

Victoria distracts herself by diving into Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels. She waxes rhapsodic to Lehzen about how much she’s always loved the idea of Scotland and thought that Bonnie Prince Charlie was soooo dreamy. (You know, aside from the part where he got the better part of Scotland slaughtered and then fled.) And then she realises she’s the queen and can go wherever she damn well pleases (except to Ireland. That’s off the table), so she announces a nice little holiday north of the border. They take Ernest (of course. He has even less to do than Leopold, it seems) and the Duchesses of Sutherland and Buccleuch (both Scottish titles, I might point out) and Lord Alfred and Drummond because we need some more pretty, right? Lehzen, alas, is left behind with the kids, which gives her a pout.

Everyone settles in at a ducal estate in the countryside, where the rich folk and royals have to listen to the world’s most boring poet recite his epic work, while the servants head off for a ceilidh. Servants totally win. Skerrett even gets romanced by a handsome, be-kilted lad but puts him off in favour of Francatelli back in London.

Victoria and Albert quickly chafe at how formal everything is, and how much security is around them all.the.time. There’s even a guard posted right outside their bedroom door, and let me just say, it seems like that guy got an earful their first night.

After an afternoon of fly fishing, the royal pair decide to ride home, and they give their guards the slip, which nearly gives their host a heart attack. Despite Albert’s promise that he has a good head for direction, the two get hopelessly lost and have to take shelter in a crofter’s cottage. Which means we, of course, get some ‘Oh, look how adorable the plain folk are!’ moments. Victoria learns to darn a sock! Albert observes open-fire cooking! They both lie that they own a factory down south. (‘Actually, it’s my factory,’ says Victoria. ‘He helps me with the paperwork.’ Heh, but also: ouch!)

The kindly poor folk naturally give Victoria and Albert their bed for the night, and the next day a bunch of guards from the estate barge in and start getting threatening until Victoria calls them off. The lady of the house gifts Victoria her darning egg. Lady, aren’t you going to need that yourself?

Everyone’s relieved to have Victoria and Albert back safe and sound. Now relaxed a bit, Drummond and Alfred sneak away from the night’s poetry reading to enjoy yet another woodland ceilidh, followed by a lakeside makeout session. Aww! Young love is lovely! Though I do feel sorry for Drummond’s fiancee.

Speaking of romance (ish): Ernest tries to offer Harriet his condolences and she’s totally bitchy to him. Baffled, he backs off, and for a while every time he so much as glances his way he gets his head bitten off. She finally tells him that she thought she could just go back to her marriage like nothing had happened, but she couldn’t, and now she’s sure her husband knew it and that’s what killed him. Is she saying he killed himself? Because I thought he died in a hunting accident. Ernest backs off, she calms down, and they end up holding hands for a bit. I still can’t really make myself care about this whole thing.

Back in London, Victoria puts on the gladrags to attend the State Opening of Parliament, but then back at the palace she literally lets her hair down, picks up her darning egg, orders up a simple supper, and asks Albert to cook it for her while she pretends to be a simple farm wife. In a palace that is literally painted with gold. Nice try, Victoria, but it’ll take more than pretending to fix nonexistent holes in socks to be one of the people, just like it would take more than a tourist’s jaunt to the Highlands to understand Scotland. But, hey, that crown is heavy, so go ahead and have your fantasy time.



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