“She was unapologetically herself, but she was born into a life that didn’t suit her temperament,” observes Coleman. Perhaps those who underestimated her as a woman should have noted that instead of becoming Queen Alexandrina or something more traditional like Queen Mary, she made the radical decision to be called Victoria — an uncommon name at the time — because it meant victorious.Growing up, the future queen was raised in what was called the Kensington system, which impressed upon her the idea of not showing her feelings in public.
“She had quite a sheltered life,” says Coleman. He mentored her, while smarting from the public fact that his wife had had an affair with the poet Lord Byron. “She never spent a night alone without her mother before, ever, before the night she becomes queen.” Victoria’s mother had hoped that the previous king would die before Victoria was 18 so she could rule the country through her daughter, points out Daisy Goodwin, author of the novel “Victoria” on which the series is based.After she gained the throne, Victoria withdrew from her mother’s grasp, and found a father figure in Lord Melbourne, the prime minister of England (played by Rufus Sewell in the series), whom she came to adore.
What: Eight-part series on the woman who rule England through much of the 19th century, starring Jenna Coleman.When: 9 tonight.Where: PBS.
But they didn’t see her inner strength. Queen Victoria may not have been much of a Victorian after all. Certainly not as she is played by Jenna Coleman in the sumptuous series “Victoria,” beginning on “Masterpiece” on Sunday.“People probably don’t realize that she was so vivid, full of life, exuberant and spirited,” says the British actress about the monarch.Most only know the photographs of a dour-faced, elderly widow shrouded in black. Because of that and her youth, no one took her seriously. She was diminutive — just 4 foot 11 inches — and there is a scene in the series of her sitting at the coronation, feet dangling as they place the crown on her head. She wasn’t expected to become queen, fifth in line when she was christened Alexandrina Victoria, but at 18 she took the throne in 1837.
Within three years, she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Tom Hughes), who also was her first cousin. She was immovable once she made her mind up about something.”When Victoria came to the throne, it was the beginning of the age of the camera and steam engine and other scientific advances, but being an unmarried woman wouldn’t do for a monarch at the time. “Though Victoria is very formidable, she’s also very young in so many ways,” says Coleman. “She is described as having a vein of iron, very strong-willed and won’t be pushed around. So a husband was necessary.