Queen Victoria’s Letters – BBC 4

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This programme, the first of two, didn’t say anything new, but any programme about Queen Victoria’s personal life is by its nature interesting :-). The very fact that Queen Victoria wrote so many letters and that she kept a diary for so long is fascinating too, although it’s rather a shame that her daughter Beatrice edited what were probably the “best” bits out of the diary!

I’m not sure about the presenter, though. A N Wilson. Why doesn’t he use his first name?! It’s not as if it’s anything really weird/embarrassing – it’s Andrew. And did he seriously think it was funny to put on an ‘Allo ‘Allo style German accent every time he was reading out anything said by Prince Albert? Also, he seemed determined to criticise everyone. Victoria herself came in for a lot of his whingeing because of her difficult relationship with her mother – but, whilst it wouldn’t have hurt Victoria to have made a lot more effort in her mother’s later years, she was given a very hard time by Victoire of Saxe-Leiningen and Sir John Conroy before she became queen. (Incidentally, why were Victoire’s two children by her first marriage never mentioned?)

As for Prince Albert, he was dismissed as a “cold fish” and a “control freak”. All right, he was – his reaction when the Prince of Wales was caught in flagrante with Nellie Clifden’s a prime example of that! – but he had his good points too. He worked very, very hard – look at the Great Exhibition, and the Trent Affair – and there’s no questioning the fact that Queen Victoria adored him.

Give them all a break! Queen Victoria’s letters and diary – and she does seem to have accepted that people would read the edited versions after her death, so it doesn’t seem inappropriate to be discussing them – tell us so much and are so interesting. There are much better things to do in a prime time TV programme about them than whinge and moan!!

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