Monday, March 17, 2008

Finally!! A movie on Queen Victoria as a young woman!

The pictures you are seeing are stills from a new movie that has not been released yet, called "The Young Queen." The pictures were in google search, and so I don't think this is a secret. If you're a royal watcher like I am, you may have known this, but if not...well, I'm telling you this is advance. Sometime in 2009, the movie will probably be released in movie theaters in the United States, and in England before that.

I knew about this while they were still filming, and also corresponded with an extra on the film. Not only that, I had the audacity to write to Julian Fellowes, and he was kind enough to reply! Emily Blunt looks lovely as Victoria--there is definitely a resemblance. Obviously, Emily is prettier. I've stared at this picture so much. Look at that hair.

Rupert Friend got the role of Prince Albert. He looks dashing. I've been very excited over this movie, and I simply can't wait to see it. I'm particularly excited that--- finally---someone is telling her story! And the story of her exciting young life, and her love affair with Albert. Sarah Ferguson has to be credited with this. She has always loved Queen Victoria and has researched her, and it is because of her--I believe-- that this finally came to the screen. The screenplay was written by FAMED Julian Fellowes---and Martin Scorsese is involved as well.

Oh, it's about time!!! I always knew there was a wonderful story here to be told. Her diaries and letters and her story fueled my imagination for years, and on many rainy days. I will often curl up with a book about their early marriage or their home life, or even one of their homes. Sometimes I'll curl up with some of her letters to her daughter Vicky and Vicky's replies to her mother.

I found the below story in the Guardian UK, and I want to share it with you. I didn't write it--it was written by David Smith, and he reveals Julian Fellowes feelings on the project. This should give you a feeling of the magnitude of this film and the excitement surrounding it. Here it is...

Revealed: the sad, lonely childhood of VictoriaOscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes tells of his passion for the queen-to-be who slept in a cot

David Smith


July 8, 2007

The Observer
Smothered by a neurotic mother, denied friendship and banned even from climbing stairs without adult supervision, her duty was to be seen and not heard. The child who endured this miserable fate? The future Queen Victoria, according to the author of a new biopic of Britain's longest reigning monarch.

Julian Fellowes, an Oscar winner for his screenplay of Gosford Park, spoke last week about his fascination with Victoria and how he intends to replace the image of her as an aloof, dowdy widow with that of a feisty, romantic teenager played by Emily Blunt, who made her name as Meryl Streep's highly strung assistant in The Devil Wears Prada.

The Young Victoria begins shooting in Britain next month and is produced by Graham King and Martin Scorsese, who won this year's best picture and best director Oscars respectively for their collaboration on The Departed.

The cast will include Miranda Richardson, who co-starred with 24-year-old Blunt in Gideon's Daughter, and Mark Strong, seen recently in the science fiction hit Sunshine, while the prize role of Prince Albert will be taken by Rupert Friend, who appeared in Pride and Prejudice and is dating its leading actress, Keira Knightley.

Set in the period from 1836 to 1840, the film starts with Victoria as a lonely, cossetted princess dominated by her mother and weighed down by her royal destiny. By the end, she has become Queen, her character has flowered and she is married to the love of her life, Albert.

Fellowes, whose long acting career included the television series Monarch of the Glen, has written the script after collaborating with Sarah, Duchess of York, who first pitched the idea and was well placed to help with historical research. He said it was a dream subject and admitted: 'I thought, if someone else writes this film I'll have to kill myself.'

Before her 63-year reign began, he said, Victoria had a 'horrible childhood'. Her father died before her first birthday, leaving her mother, the Duchess of Kent, to raise the sole heir to the throne.

'The duchess can never have another child who is in line to the throne because her husband is dead,' Fellowes said. 'She's just got this one frail little squib that will be Queen if only she doesn't die. This created in her a kind of neurotic protectionism, a smothering childhood where Victoria could not have her own room and had to sleep on a little cot next to her mother's bed until she was 18.

'She wasn't able to go up or down stairs without holding an adult hand. She had almost no friends. William IV, as the Duke of Clarence, and his wife, Queen Adelaide, wanted to see as much of her as they could, but her mother wouldn't allow it. It was a terribly lonely childhood.'

The death of William IV, however, changed everything. Victoria ascended to the throne and emerged from her mother's shadow. At the heart of the film is the love story of Victoria and Albert, the first cousin she married in 1840. This happy and fulfilled chapter of her life is largely forgotten today, Fellowes added. 'The Queen Victoria we know is the woman in black with the handkerchief on her head, depressed about being a widow. Very few people know about the girl and this is the other side of her that very few people know about: that she was young, that she loved dancing, that she loved music and that she was very romantic. She was madly in love; this wasn't an arranged marriage in that sense at all.' '

Fellowes said he admired Dame Judi Dench's portrayal of the older Victoria in the film Mrs Brown and he hopes Emily will capture the same essence. 'Judi Dench wasn't in the least cliched; I felt it was a very interesting, layered, sympathetic performance.'

Blunt told The Observer: 'I couldn't help but be attracted to this remarkable, high-spirited, feisty girl... she was a rebel. The script is exciting, as you see the public and private Victoria are very different, and you realise what a performance it was to be a Queen. I identify with her hugely as we all know what it is like to be teenage, to stubbornly think we know it all and to be in a job in which you feel you are way over your head, not to mention being deeply in love for the first time.'

The actress added: 'She had such zest for life at a young age, would talk with such passion about the people she loved, opera, food! She can't have been that repressed... she had nine kids!'

...I also found another article written by BAZ BAMIGBOYE -

Last updated at 08:13am on 21st September 2007


Emily Blunt has decided that her Queen Victoria won't be rigid and unsmiling - she'll be a wild child who, behind the scenes, lets her hair down.

Dashing actors Rupert Friend, as Prince Albert, and Paul Bettany, as Lord Melbourne, are the men vying (for different reasons) for the young Victoria's attention.

"She was a very feisty teenager, unreadable at times," Emily told me as we sat in her trailer during a break from shooting The Young Victoria on location at Arundel Castle.

"People couldn't place why she was so charismatic because she was this diminutive little thing, not particularly attractive, but there was so much power in her."

Emily was wearing a towelling robe over a corset.

A beautiful gown, one of 40 created for her by Oscar-winning designer Sandy Powell, was on a hanger to protect it while she was eating her lunch and chatting to me.

Screenwriter Julian Fellowes, another Oscar-winner (the production is littered with them, including make-up maestro Jenny Shircore and producers Graham King and Martin Scorsese) describes the film, which is six weeks into a two-and-a-half-month shooting schedule, as being about Victoria's "self-empowerment".

"It's her human struggle, her refusal to be manipulated when everyone was trying to pull her this way and that," Fellowes told me.

The film charts her perilous journey to the throne. Her own mother, the Duchess of Kent, in league with Sir John Conroy, controller of her household, tried to get power over Victoria - and the country - by being named Regent. But as we know, William IV thwarted that little plot by clinging on to power till his niece was 18.

One scene I watched involved Jim Broadbent, as the old King, hurling insults at Miranda Richardson's Duchess during a banquet.

And that's just on the domestic scene! Abroad, her uncle, King Leopold of Belgium, used Victoria and his nephew Prince Albert as pieces on a chess board.

Albert is played by the fast-rising Rupert Friend, who made his mark in Pride And Prejudice and Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont.

What everyone overlooked in Victoria and Albert's arranged marriage, Fellowes explained, "was the possibility that they would fall in love.

"We know from her diary that to be engaged to Albert, she wrote, 'would make me happy, too happy'."

Albert was the shy Teutonic prince, while she was more extrovert.

Even on their wedding night, according to the film, Victoria took the lead.

The scene has the newlyweds sitting on a bed as Albert gently takes her hand.
"Just love me. Now," she says, kissing him.

The screenplay guidance then observes: "This side of things at least will clearly not be a problem."

How do we know what went on in the royal bed, I asked Fellowes.
"We don't know anything about their wedding night," he agreed, adding with a laugh, "except it was a great success."

Although theirs was a great passion, there were also some right royal rows.

Emily, who starred in My Summer Of Love and as Meryl Streep's assistant in The Devil Wears Prada, explained that Victoria noted the arguments in her own diaries.

"There are references in her diaries to her screams reverberating around the castle and her slamming doors.

"Albert would just walk away and she would follow him from room to room.
"The way she writes in her diaries is very evocative. A lot of words were italicised and some underlined four times.

"Victoria, who at this point had been controlled her whole life, felt Albert was her freedom."
Emily clearly relished Victoria's human side.

"We tend to view that period with a bit too much reverence and I think it can become very stuffy."

That's why producers King and Scorsese (the duo behind Oscar-winning film The Departed) went after French-Canadian film-maker Jean-Marc Vallee to direct the film.

Vallee, who made C.R.A.Z.Y., was enough of an outsider to see the young Victoria as a rebellious teenager.

"She was growing up and learning how to be Queen and be responsible," Vallee explained.

And so, if you're getting interested, I give you permission to get excited. I'll keep you filled in before the movie comes out so that you'll have an idea of her personality and what she went through as she became Queen and met Albert. And surely, they will do a sequel, won't they? Well...if not, I will.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Imagine yourself there

Here's a real view into Victoria's young life:

Princess Victoria peered out one of the massive windows in the drawing room at Windsor Castle. Dark outside, she could see nothing but the twinkling lights of the town from afar. She wondered what the people in those homes might be doing now, and a part of her wished she were there. What would it be like to live in a real house with a real family? She felt certain it would be … well, rather snug and cozy , with much comfort. Imagining someone at the stove, preparing a warm meal for the children made her lips curve up in a smile. Were they, too, looking out of their windows now, seeing only the lights of Windsor castle? Perhaps.

Looking away from the large glass pane, she surveyed the guests in the blue drawing room — many of them her royal relatives — awaiting the arrival of the King. He was coming soon, they had just been told. Although the actual birthday dinner would be held tomorrow evening, and almost one hundred people would be in attendance, a select group had assembled beforehand to see him tonight.

The massive doors opened, and the King and Queen entered the room. Oddly enough, they did not stand in their place to receive their guests as was the usual custom. Instead, the King made his way through the room … and appeared to be coming directly towards Victoria. Victoria watched as he approached. Indeed, he was coming her way. She curtseyed to the floor. He stopped and took her delicate white hands in his. She looked up at him with expectance, surprised at the whiteness of his hair. She noticed he looked very tired … and heavier than she remembered. ' What a pleasure to see you, my dear Victoria. How I do wish I would see you more often,' he said. His hands, large and warm on hers, felt good.

The Princess couldn't help but smile. The King let go of her hands suddenly and turned to the Princess's mother. He bowed slightly.

"I have just come from Kensington Palace," he said in a higher timbre of voice than he had used when speaking to Victoria moments ago. '"I have just come from Kensington Palace … where a most unwarrantable liberty has been taken with one my palaces. I found apartments that had been taken possession of … not only without my consent, but contrary to my commands. "

Victoria's heart thumped in her chest.

" I do not understand," the King continued in a loud tone, looking into the Duchess's eyes," nor will the King endure conduct so disrespectful. "

In a soft, quick voice the Duchess whispered, "It was for her health."

Frowning and displeased, the King turned away from the Duchess and began to walk away. Victoria's heart continued to pound and she looked at her mother's steely gaze as she watched the King walk away from her.

I cannot stand this!

As the sound of shocked sighs reverberated through the room, The Duchess linked her arm through her daughters, pulling her towards the window and away from prying eyes. " It was for your health and the doctor insisted this is what we must do and all of this was communicated to the King," she whispered.

" Mamma … "

"Such a stupid man," she whispered to her daughter. "He knew you were ill while we visited Ramsgate! He knew the doctor insisted you have air! He is a pig, I tell you," she hissed.

"Mamma, your face is getting red."

"He loves to do this to me," she spat.

"Please try to be calm while we are here. They are looking at us," Victoria pleaded.

"How dare he speak to me like that..."

"People are staring now," Victoria whispered in urgency.

The Duchess of Kent took a deep breath and stood up straighter. Pulling her daughter closer to the window, she ordered her to look out. '"Act as if you are interested in what you can see out the window."

Wanting to calm her mother, she gazed out the dark glass. " What time do you think we will be able to leave? '

"Not until he departs. I'm sure it will feel like forever."

"Aunt Augusta is over in the corner. She is most understanding and kind. Perhaps we should walk over to her and begin conversing."

"Was all of this really necessary? Do you see what your uncle puts me through? Always the same, I tell you."

"Certainly I wish he had not said what he did," Victoria offered, feeling beads of sweat on her forehead. "My heart is beating, too."

"See? He has upset you also."

"Mamma, I will be fine. Somehow we shall endure this."

"Never will I endure this again, I promise you," she told her daughter.

"Come Mamma, let's go to Aunt Augusta."

AND YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD PROBLEMS WITH YOUR RELATIVES! As you can see, Victoria was stuck in the middle between her mother and her Uncle, the King. They disliked eachother immensely.

I was lucky enough to get permission by the author to post this. I'm trying to get another another scene, which is much more dramatic. This is the closest, I think, we will ever come to really knowing what the Princess went through.

What do you think?

My Lifetime of Study

For a woman who has had countless biographies written about her, Queen Victoria has always been misunderstood. Most people come away with the feeling that she was a small, stout woman dressed in black---a sad figure shut away in a castle somewhere---sort of priggish. Obviously, when she lost the love of her life, Prince Albert of Saxe-Gotha-Coburg, it destroyed her. She didn't want to go on and felt that the burden of the Monarchy was too much. And not only that---there were her many children left fatherless. Her eldest daughter, Vicky, was married to the heir to the Prussian Throne; her eldest son Bertie was living in England, but he had many flaws in her opinion. Then there was 5 year old baby Beatrice...and many others in between.

But before the Prince died in 1861 (at only 42 years old) Victoria had led an active life, and was much in love with her husband. She was very busy with the affairs of state and relied heavy on Albert for help. Together they took the Monarchy which was almost laughable, and restored a sense of dignity to the crown. The young couple were much imitated and sought after. They built several homes, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight---right on the water--which was their haven and also Balmoral in Scotland, with it's fresh, clean air. They had a life to be envied. Their life was filled with purpose and love. It wasn't until after her Prince Consort had died that the full magnitude and brilliance of his contribution to her reign were realized.

For years this woman has fascinated me. Was it her beauty? No. Obviously, she wasn't extremely attractive, but she had many nice features...silky hair, peaches and cream complexion with a touch of blush when she was young, a sweet bell like voice---very clear and distinct, a pleasing countenance, (as they said in those days) a caring nature, an extremely regal bearing and she was a prolific writer. She also loved sketching and watercolors, she enjoyed her food and ate quickly. She loved the cold bracing air, candles, and fires made with a certain kind of wood, usually birch. She loved animals, and her dolls. She also had an iron will.

She was also conceived to be a Queen. From the minute of her birth, there was a strong possibility that she would be Queen. It wasn't definite. But her father was hopeful.

She had her negative qualities, of course. She derived some sort of comfort and satisfaction from deep mourning rituals, and she worried about her own health excessively. She also worried about the health and welfare of others very much. She was will full and stubborn, at times much too much. She was of the opinion that she was right about most things. Albert was one of the only ones who could, well---knock her down to size---if you must know. And as strong as she was, there was also another side of her, the one riddled with anxieties and sadness.

Her childhood was sheltered--she never went anywhere in the house without someone else. Her friends were limited. Her food was bland---meat, potatoes, milk and bread--nothing special. She got her exercise, and adored her governess, the Baroness Lehzen. She was taught German and English, but spoke English most of the time. And she was lonely. She had a half older sister named Feodora who married and left England when Victoria was young. She also had a half brother. And when she reached her teens, the tension between she and her mother was becoming...well, serious. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, a widow, did her best, I must say--in her defense. However, her late husband's secretary, Mr. Conroy, stayed with the Duchess after the death of the Duke and acted as her advisor. There is much to Conroy--he did spend a lifetime protecting Victoria, but she hated him. He hurt her and treated her quite harshly and loved to make it seem as if she was stupid. Victoria was somewhat kept prisoner in the years before she became Queen at 18. What she did was monitored and she wasn't free to do what she pleased. There was a system in place to keep her busy with her studies, and what she heard and saw was controlled by her mother and Mr. Conroy. There's much more to the story, but those are the highlights. Victoria hated Conroy and his control. And she resented her mother for listening to him. When she became Queen, she pulled away from them, and let me say it was not easy. A lesser young woman would have crumbled from nerves. Victoria did indeed suffer. She and her mother had a real rift because of Sir John Conroy which lasted many, many years.

The first half of her reign was brilliant for the most part--the latter half, at least from the view of her subjects, was somewhat distant and hidden. Never for a moment did she stop being Queen, but she could not tolerate the crowds and travel and she needed rest. It took most of her energy just to take care of her family and read through the important correspondence that came her way, meet with her prime ministers and contemplate affairs and make decisions. So yes, she did stay somewhat secluded. But she did bounce back in her own Victoria sort of way. Most people just don't know what an interesting life she had as a young woman, a mother and a sovereign. Even the latter part of her reign was borne with a mature wisdom and outlook, with confidence, with the help and support of one of her daughters.

Her diaries are priceless, her letters informative. The control she had over her children and grandchildren was quite amazing. In many ways she controlled Europe for a time. She couldn't be intimate with many people. What I mean by intimate is that she was royal, and above them in rank so-to-speak, and she did not confide her feelings to them. She had a few trusted confidants--mostly close family of royal blood. She reigned from 1837 until 1901. She really is a lifetime of study.

I write all this from memory. On some posts I do consult books for quotes and dates and things like that, and sometimes my memory does fail me, but on Victoria at least, her life is very clear to me. I've read all the important biographies of her, consulted them and compared them against each other to check fact for fact, and read primary sources such as diaries and letters. I just learn more and more. Why am I fascinated? I don't know! Of all the Queens and royals I study, I'd have to say that my favorite by far is Victoria. I'm not trying to say what I write is a perfect portrait. It is just mine.

I've said it before...I won't be happy till I get permission from Her Majesty to go to the Royal Archives, someday. There are many books on Victoria, and much on the internet, but I can't find a site that is JUST ABOUT HER and her alone. So, I've started one. When I do my Writer of Queens blog which I enjoy, I am often tempted to start writing about Victoria or Albert, or one of her children or grandchildren and I think: you don't want to bore them. Thus, I'm starting this blog, and maybe someday...a website. Who knows.

Oh, and that famous comment of hers, "I am not amused"...well, yeah, she said it once or twice, but she really didn't say it much. Believe me, if she didn't like something, her face would reveal it in an instant and no words were necessary. She could make grown men tremble. This is a woman who ruled her court with an iron hand. She controlled what would happen, who came and visited, the etiquette, the schedule. There was no court intrigue--except for the fact that she wrote her staff so many notes that it drove them crazy and there was much whispering behind closed doors by the servants. But even her servants were devoted to her. They loved her very much. Sometimes they were shivering with cold at Balmoral, or bored because Victoria's routines rarely changed, yet they truly loved her. Sometimes her court could, boring.

I also wanted to start writing about her because...well, I have my sources...and I "predict" there will be much more interest in this particular Queen in the future. And so I want to begin to reveal her to you, as she really was.