Sunday, March 29, 2009

A real, true peek....

Here is a real, true peek into what Queen Victoria's life was like--just before she became Queen. It truly is. Let me know what you think!

The man sat comfortably in the carriage as he held the while envelope. Soon he would be there and it would be time. He would not put up with anything getting in the way of what he had to do. He fully intended to complete his errand and if anyone tried to prevent him from doing so…there would certainly be trouble.

Holding the envelope with the seal, he watched the passing landscape as he thought about what loomed ahead. He hoped for everyone’s sake it would go smoothly. He noted that they were close to the residence now and he sighed. He would feel relieved when all this was done with.

After awhile, he could hear the crunching of little stones as the carriage slowed up near the entrance. Soon he would be at the door and he would not waver. Waiting until the carriage was at a full stop, he let himself out. The dust flew up and he dusted off his pants quickly as he approached the door.

He knocked and it was opened by a butler who admitted him into the royal residence. Being the Lord Chamberlain, there was no need to introduce himself. “I have a letter for Her Royal Highness, Princess Victoria,” he said.

“Come in, sir.”

He waited by the door, in no rush. Several moments later Sir John Conroy walked into the large foyer. “Lord Conyngham...what a pleasure to see you again. Might you follow me into the study?”

The Lord Chamberlain’s voice was loud and firm. “That won’t be necessary, Sir Conroy. I am here on official business on behalf of His Majesty with the intention of seeing the Her Royal Highness, Princess Victoria.”

Conroy looked momentarily troubled. “Quite impossible, My Lord. She is in the middle of a lesson.”

“Disturb her then,” the Lord Chamberlain said sternly.

Conroy took a step towards the man. “That’s quite impossible as I said, My Lord. The Duchess has left strict instructions that she not be disturbed.”

“Then fetch the Duchess.”


“Or can she not be disturbed either, Conroy?”

“No, My Lord. I will get her at once.”

Lord Conyngham watched Conroy leave and he was a little amused. Conroy was certainly flustered. The King had never demanded anything like this before…insisting that a letter be placed in Her Royal Highnesses hands alone and nowhere else. He was not sure what the letter contained but he knew it was urgent. His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of footsteps approaching the foyer area.

The Duchess of Kent appeared through an enormous door, swathed in pale yellow, with her hair pulled back severely. Her face was radiant and smooth and she appeared solemn. She gave the Lord Chamberlain a quick smile.

“Good afternoon, My Lord. Now what is all this about? Sir Conroy says that you have an urgent need to see my daughter?”

“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” he began, bowing slightly, as Conroy stood behind the Duchess. “His Majesty, the King has sent me here with something for the Princess only. It is a letter that I hold in my hand. I must give it to the Princess herself and no one else.”

The Duchess looked down at his hand, and she clutched one side of her light yellow gown as if she was nervous. “Well, certainly, His Majesty could not have meant that I, her own mother, could not be trusted to hand it to her.”

Irritated, Lord Conyngham took the letter and held it up for the Duchess to see. “As you can see this has been sealed by the King and it indicates clearly that I am to show this to whom ever is in attendance, however, I must place it in the Princess’s hands myself. And I do intend to do that, Your Royal Highness. Do you wish me to wait until the Princess has finished her lesson?”

“Very well, then. She may receive it in my presence in the drawing room. Mr. Conroy, would you send word that the Princess should be interrupted and that she is required in the drawing room right now? And My Lord, please follow me into the drawing room and make yourself comfortable.” The Duchess turned daintily and walked slowly into the drawing room of light blue and gold, and took a seat close to the entrance doors. She wrung her hands. “Please do sit down, My Lord.”

“No thank you, Ma’am. I’ve been sitting in the carriage and my legs are quite cramped.”

“Indeed. Yes, I understand.”

It seemed a very long time, yet it was probably only minutes until Victoria entered the room. The Lord Chamberlain bowed. “Your Royal Highness.”

“Lord Conyngham…what a delight to see you again.”

“You’re very kind, ma’am. I’m here because His Majesty the King has sent me here, with the express purpose of handing you this letter personally.”

“Thank you very much,” the Princess said as she took the paper from him. Looking around, she absently opened it to see what it contained. Once she had read it thoroughly, The Lord Chamberlain made a polite goodbye.

“Thank you, My Lord,” the Princess said as he left the room.

Victoria re-read the letter again slowly and then looked at her mother. Knowing she had no choice but to allow her mother to read it too, she walked over to the Duchess and handed it to her.

The Duchess grabbed it and Victoria took a step back, almost in fear.

Conroy was standing quietly in the drawing room entrance.

“Well, well, well….” The Duchess said as she flattened the paper to her liking. “Isn’t this the most highly indignant thing that has ever taken place? He would try to be sneaky about it.” She looked over at Conroy.

“Quite sneaky of him, but typical,” Conroy agreed. .

The Duchess of Kent scanned the letter. “This is appalling! Sir Conroy, come look at this, at once!”

“Mamma,” Victoria pleaded. “It is my letter.”

“Your letter? No, dearest. What involves you involves me. You are much too young to fully understand such matters.”

“I fully understand,” Victoria said in a sharp tone, “that the King feels that I am entitled to my own allowance from the Privy Purse, to do with as I will, and that also means setting up my own household, which is the right and proper thing to do.”

“Oh really, my dear? And who is filling your head with such nonsense? It is not fitting for you to live alone or be alone. You are much too young and you are not married and it is beyond comprehension that anyone should try to separate us. I won’t have it!”

“You may not have a choice, Mamma.”

The Duchess glared at her daughter with narrowed eyes. “You would throw me aside, wouldn’t you? After everything I have done for you, after all the pain I have endured…you would push me aside as if I were nothing!”

Conroy stepped into the room, closer to the Duchess. “That would be most unkind and unforgivable…to throw your mother aside after she has devoted her whole life to your care. If word of it got out, you would appear very cruel, indeed.”

Furious, Victoria walked towards the door. The Duchess grabbed her arm as she passed. “You aren’t leaving me until I let you go. You are becoming most rude.”

“Me?” Victoria snapped. “You are the one insinuating I would throw you aside! You are the one whose mind is filled with nasty thoughts.”

Conroy shut the drawing room door and blocked the exit.

Victoria looked at him with hatred. “Are you trying to keep me prisoner, Mr. Conroy?”

“Victoria!” The Duchess screamed. “Sit down this instant! This instant!”

Victoria lowered herself into a chair at the sound of her mother’s bellowing voice. She couldn’t fight the two of them. Her knuckles were white as she clutched the side of the chair and her heart was pounding in her chest. .

“No one is leaving here until this matter has been settled, to everyone’s satisfaction,” the Duchess of Kent said shrilly. “As the mother to the future Queen, I will not be pushed aside like this after a lifetime of devotion and care, and allow you to leave here and set up your own household. No! It is not fitting or right, and the King is quite improper for even thinking such a thing!”

Conroy stayed near the door and the Duchess sat across from her daughter. She took deep breaths to try to calm herself. Victoria watched quietly, trying to feel nothing. It was just another day in the prison as far as she was concerned, and things could stay like this….well, for a long time. But, she would be eighteen soon, and that would count for something. She didn’t want to push her mother aside. She had no real wish to hurt her. But, as heir to the throne, she had every right to consider setting up her own household…a household more to her own liking. She couldn’t live like this any longer. Ten thousand pounds per year was quite generous, and indeed, she could probably live very well. She looked at the pale blue walls, and it occurred to her that the blue color was as light as the sky. It really was beautiful. She had never noticed before how soothing, yet crisp it was. Staring at it, her eyes began to water. She looked away. She wondered where her dog Dash was.

“What we shall do is this,” Victoria’s mother began. “You will write to the King that while you are thankful for his kind offer, you cannot accept it exactly as stated… concerning the matter of money, these funds are to be given to your Mother, whom you trust implicitly to do what is necessary.”

The Princess did not look at her mother.

“We shall allow Victoria control of four thousand pounds and I shall be in control of six thousand. I think that would be fair and would allow us both a certain amount of the amenities that should have been ours years ago and befitting of our stature and precedence. Mr. Conroy, do you think that is fair?”

Conroy nodded. “As usual, you are fair. You always do the right thing, in my opinion, for the family’s benefit and not for one person in particular.”

Victoria knew that the four thousand pounds she would receive would benefit her but, it would not be enough to run her very own household in a manner in which an heir to the Throne would be expected. Again, she would be forced to stay with her mother. One part of her heart was relieved that her mother would have additional funds—Mamma always seemed to be borrowing—but another part of her was enraged. As usual she had no say in any matter.

“And while we are at it, are you ready to sign the papers making Conroy your personal secretary, upon your accession to the Throne?”

“I will not,” Victoria hissed.

“Then you shall see no one. No more friends, no visitors, no one…..except your instructors. You may retire to you room now.”

What do you think? This is NOT from the movie.

Famed Author Discusses New Movie

Also compliments of Indie London

The Young Victoria - Julian Fellowes interview

Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JULIAN Fellowes, the acclaimed writer, actor, producer and director whose body of work includes writing Gosford Park and appearing in Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, talks about his involvement with The Young Victoria and why he wanted to tell the story of the younger part of her life.

He also explains why Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, was instrumental in bringing the project to the big screen in the first place.

Q. What sparked your very clear enthusiasm for this part of Queen Victora’s life?
Julian Fellowes: I was just very interested long before this film because I read a book, by chance, and I realised how little I knew of her early years. If someone had said to me: “Do you know about Queen Victoria?” I probably would have said “yes”. But the Queen Victoria I knew was Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria… you know, short, fat, and dark and cross and living in Scotland with a handkerchief on her head. I hadn’t really understood the early life and if I had thought of it at all, I would have assumed that she had a very comfortable growing up, and that she was prepared for the throne, and then accepted it and that was that. I didn’t realise at all that she had survived this emotional battering in order to get there and was immediately fascinated by that.

Q. Could you tell us about the unique involvement of Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, in this film?
Julian Fellowes: The Duchess of York had the original idea of making a film about the younger Queen Victoria. She knew [producer] Graham King and she ran into him in LA, I think, and said to him: “We’ve all seen the older Queen, we’ve all seen the widow, but nobody has seen Victoria and Albert as a younger woman and their marriage. We don’t know about the marriage she was in mourning for.” He was very taken with this idea and he decided he’d do it. I was then recruited and the only alteration I asked for was to nudge the story forward a bit so we got the Duchess and Lord Conroy and all the complexities of that.

So, it became the story of Albert essentially from the visit of 1836, when he came over with his brother, rather than only the marriage. They had this quite bumpy first year and then they settled into working together… when their desks were put together. So, she did have the original idea and every good film needs a good idea, so we’re all very, very grateful.

Q. Did she visit the set at all?
Julian Fellowes: She came for the Coronation Ball at Lancaster House. She came with both of the princesses. But that was it.

Q. How much research did you do into the period of the time?
Julian Fellowes: I knew quite a lot about the period anyway but, of course, when you get a job you then read up and read round it, and all the rest of it. I’m not a believer in modernising the thing, because I think that if you modernise it too much the actual quandry the characters are in ceases the exist. You start to think, “well why doesn’t she just leave him?” And you then fail to create the pressures within the storytelling that mean that wasn’t an option.

So, you have to have a fairly clear idea of the disciplines of that particular world to understand when they were in a spot. I mean, the problem of Victoria’s childhood… if you make it too modern you might think: “Well, don’t hold the hand when you go downstairs!” But that wasn’t the world they were in and that wasn’t a choice that was open to her. You have to show enough of the true detail the period to understand why they were in this predicament.

Q. What did French director Jean Marc Vallée bring to the material having not been someone who grew up with the same knowledge and appreciation of Queen Victoria that we may have?
Julian Fellowes: Well, I loved C.R.A.Z.Y and he said to me: “I’ve made a film about a dysfunctional family and I feel this is a film about another one.” He saw these people as a dysfunctional family, not as a series of dukes and duchesses and kings and queens. He saw them as a family whose business yoked them together even though they were completely disparate as personalities. That was his view of the thing, which I think is what comes across in the film.

Q. What was it like having Princess Beatrice on set?
Julian Fellowes: She was very good-natured actually. Most of being in a film is waiting – you have five minutes of action and then two and a half hours of waiting and that can be hard for people who aren’t used to it in terms of what they do with their brains for that time. But I thought she was very patient. She’s a very nice girl.

Q. How much did your name help to get access to some of the locations used?
Julian Fellowes: That was entirely my address book! [Laughs] No, I don’t think Julian Fellowes opens Julian Fellowes’ door! But they really were wonderful locations. The one I loved best, actually, was the least famous, Ditchley. Blenheim and Wilton are the great houses of England, but Ditchley Park is much smaller than that and fantastically pretty. I loved it. It was Queen Victoria’s private sitting room. But seriously, we got in because of a handsome cheque book!

Q. Do you think there was a plot at the time to put as many Colburgs as possible on the thrones of Europe?
Julian Fellowes: Oh there definitely was a plot. It’s a most extraordinary story… but this funny little Dukal house of Colburg, which was totally unimportant, had this adviser and Leopold was very clever. So, there was this kind of scheme to build the family up, so one was married to the Queen of Portugal and became King Consul of Portugal; later one was married to Archduke Maximilian of Austria. First of all, Leopold was married to Princess Charlotte of Wales. So, Leopold in the movie should have been Albert if Princess Charlotte hadn’t died. So, after his death he’s made king of the Belgians and then he gets his other nephew as the consult. He’s got his sister in as the mother.

The Colburgs were really kind of shunted all over the place and by the 1860s they were connected by blood with pretty well every major reigning house… far more than a lot of the more senior families in Germany. What is interesting is that Baron Stockmar, Leopold’s adviser, had this understanding that constitutional monarchy was a different form of government. Up ‘til then, constitutions for most absolute monarchs just meant less fun, and they hadn’t seen it as any kind of alternative political arrangement, just of having less power.

But he saw that if this could be moulded into a real political arrangement it had a much longer shelf life than the idea of absolute monarchy, which people even of that time in the 1830s were beginning to see was not going to last for very much longer in western Europe. So, instead of just abolishing royal houses, they could be adapted and that’s very much a Colburg message. They were a very, very clever house.

Q. Can you just say a bit more about producer Graham King… a Brit who is a real Hollywood player…
Julian Fellowes: I’m mad about Graham King, who is a sort of great man. He is a Brit but everyone kind of forgets that. In the year when Helen Mirren won her very well deserved Oscar for The Queen, that was the British Oscars! Nobody noticed that a Briton had won best picture, for The Departed! He is so modest. He is a tremendously courteous man. He’s extremely powerful but doesn’t need to whack you over the head to prove it. Of course, in Hollywood good manners are like a drink on a hot day! And I love working for him.

Read our review of The Young Victoria

Interview with Emily Blunt from Indie London

Compliments of Indie London

The Young Victoria - Emily Blunt interview

Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria

Interview by Rob Carnevale

EMILY Blunt shot to fame in British hit My Summer of Love and has since emerged as one of the UK’s most sought after actresses both here and in Hollywood following roles in The Devil Wears Prada, Charlie Wilson’s War and Dan In Real Life.

She is now playing The Young Victoria in a new movie written by Julian Fellowes and talks to us about getting to grips with corsets and gloves, wearing a crown and having Liz Hurley visit a film set while they were filming a key scene.

Q. How did Julian Fellowes’ obvious enthusiasm for this part of Queen Victoria’s life transmit to you?
Emily Blunt: Well, I think I had a similar perception of Queen Victoria. I had the opinion she was old, in mourning and sour faced and repressed. So, when I started to read about her, mainly from tip-offs that Julian gave me, I fell in love with her. I think when I started to see the very intimate side of Victoria, and the intimate portrait of her through Julian’s script and the books that I read, I could then see she was the polar opposite to what I’d initially imagined her to be like and I saw her as this young girl who was feisty and rebellious and passionate.

he was in a job where she was way over her head and I saw that must have been an incredibly pressured and difficult environment to be in, particularly after reading about this childhood that was lonely and oppressive. So, I was amazed and full of admiration at her resilience… to have the knowledge that she would be so absolute and that she would be great and deserved this position. I just thought she was a remarkable girl and wanted to play her very, very much.

Q. What did French director Jean Marc Vallée bring to the material having not been someone who grew up with the same knowledge and appreciation of Queen Victoria that we may have?
Emily Blunt: Well, he did bring a very fresh approach to British history. I mean, he actually shoots very emotionally and he had wonderful tactics that fell into the story. He would shoot through mirrors, so it wasn’t just pretty, it helped to get the feeling that all eyes were on her, and that she was being watched all the time by everyone, and from every single angle. So, I thought he had very interesting ideas and he also created very atmospheric sets for us to work on. He’d play music such as Sigur Ros that was very atmospheric and rewarding. He also shot so quickly… it was relentless. It moved very fast and never felt stuffy or boring to any of us working on it.

Q. Did you get a private tour of some of the mansions and historical venues you shot in?
Emily Blunt: We tried to sneak off but were kept under close watch by the people who monitor, look after and manage those homes and palaces. I remember we were filming at Ham House and someone put hairspray on me, and this woman started to flap immediately, saying: “The hairspray’s going all over the Van Dyke’s!” We literally were kept under close watch and even if we leant on a table, we were rushed away. So, we didn’t get much of a chance to look around.

Q, What aspect of the clothing proved the most uncomfortable for you?
Emily Blunt: [Smiles] What do you think? Actually, I don’t like gloves. I don’t why but I don’t like them and I have a weird thing about them. I knew I had to be wearing gloves when we had the waltz and it was awful. It’s a very silly thing. But the corset is not fun to wear. And [costume designer] Sandy Powell was quite merciless with my corset because I think she thought I’d been a wuss and wore it too loose. So, she insisted the shape wouldn’t be right if I didn’t winch it in really tight… at which point I said: “F**k the shape, I want to be able to breathe!” So, we had to come to a compromise.

Q. What about the crown?
Emily Blunt: The crown was really heavy actually! It dented my forehead when they took it off. I had to move very slowly with it on.

Q. What was it like following in Queen Victoria’s footsteps? And didn’t you film in the bed that she’d slept in? Was that weird?
Emily Blunt: It was a bit weird, but what was weirder was that as we were filming that scene Liz Hurley was looking around the castle and popped her head in the door. I was like: “What’s Liz Hurley doing here?”

Q. How easy was it to separate playing a monarch from just being a girl in love?
Emily Blunt: I think that’s what’s clever about the script. You see the situations she’s in, where she has to perform, and where he has to perform, and there’s a protocol to maintain, but you also have the private moments where all of that gets left at the door and it’s just them, and they’re very young, in love and frightened. So, wanted to find that balance between the performance and how they were a couple of awkward teenagers at the same time.

Q. What was it like having Princess Beatrice on set?
Emily Blunt: I get asked about this a lot and I think people think she’s in it a lot. Princess Beatrice came in and was incredibly friendly and carried my train, which was very nice and ironic!

Q. By playing a queen you’re following in the footsteps of actresses like Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett and Dame Judi Dench who have all been recognised with awards for their performances. Did that cross your mind?
Emily Blunt: I think that to follow in their footsteps is something tricky anyway because they’re all people that I admire. But I don’t know if playing the Queen of England means it could lead to an award. And I do think that we have made a very different film from others before us. I think certain royals have been portrayed in a much more kind of Hollywood-ized light, and I feel we’ve made a much more authentic film here. So, I don’t know if it will be regarded necessarily in the same light as them… it’s such a meat market all of that and I don’t even want to begin to go into it.

Q. Did you ever dream as a little girl of being a princess?
Emily Blunt: Definitely not! I was never a girl that dreamt of being a princess and I never dreamt about my wedding day. I hated pink and I hated fairies. I only liked hanging out with boys. I remember throwing a tantrum if my mum put me in pink. I wasn’t a particularly girly girl.

Read our review of The Young Victoria

Read our interview with Rupert Friend

Victoria'a MUM

You may have noticed that I've neglected the blog, but I do have a good reason and I'm getting back to it now---and have stacks of to be read Queen biographies piled high. First off, I decided to go back to work full time and also got a promotion and so the job needed my undivided attention, as you can imagine. And you know how that is. There was much to learn and it's been exhausting. I was also offered a contract for "Royal Watercolors" which is a romantic historical--with many true details of the life of Young Queen Victoria in it-- and I've been busy working on that. Edits, edits and more edits. But it came out beautifully...and will be released soon in A DANCE OF MANNERS, by Highland Press. It's a Regency Romance Anthology. The cover is up at the top right, and it came out beautifully. There will be four other regency romances in the anthology by some very talented authors. If you haven't heard the term regency, it simply refers to a period of time in England from about 1800 to 1830 approximately (that's the long regency period).

It came as a shock to me---this whole book thing!---but, as you know some of the best things in life come unexpectedly.

You may have heard that the movie "Young Victoria" was released in England this month. I've been following this closely. Queen Elizabeth seemed a bit disappointed in some of the details of the movie, but overall I think she liked it. Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York, was instrumental in getting this movie made due in part to her fascination with Queen Victoria---alas---I am fascinated with her too. I've got a copy of the screenplay which I hold dear. And I've even dashed off some emails to some VIP's involved with the movie. The United States hasn't yet announced a release date, if any, but I hear there are negotiations underway. No one has even done a movie on her young life. I think people will be surprised when they see that Victoria had a thrilling young life and she isn't the Queen in black widow's weeds as they'd been lead to believe. That's only part of her life.

In my novella, you'll get a feeling of what it was like for her living in Kensington Palace---alone, with only her governess and her "Mamma" for company. She was shielded, lonely---and many of her relatives simply couldn't bear to be near her German mother. And did you know that Victoria was conceived in a race to have a new heir for the Crown after her cousin Princess Charlotte died unexpectedly during childbirth? It was a terrible shock to the nation. It threw the royal family into a tizzy, and quite frankly things were never the same.

Much has been said and written about Victoria's mother---the Duchess of Kent. She was a minor royal in Germany when she was introduced to the King's son, the Duke of Kent. He was looking for a wife in the race to produce an heir. She had two other children from her first marriage---a girl, Feodora and a boy, Charles. She was a widow. She took to the Duke of Kent. He was kind to her...very kind. He took care of many of the details and worries which concerned her. She genuinely cared for him and he genuinely cared for her too. The Duke had given up his long time mistress---which hurt him---but he knew that he must produce an heir. In order to do that he needed to marry and have any future child on English soil.

Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as all of that. His brother, the Prince Regent who had recently lost his own daughter Charlotte, didn't care for his brother at all. He wouldn't lend a hand to help his brother establish a residence in England for his future wife or help him with his mountain of debts. He didn't care less that his brother had married this minor German royal and that she was soon expecting a baby. The Duke of Kent reminded his brother that his wife might be carrying the future sovereign of England. The Prince Regent couldn't care less.

The reason the Prince Regent was called "Regent" was because his father, the King of England, was locked away in Windsor Castle and had been declared insane. Therefore, the King needed a regent, someone to make the decisions for the crown. The Kings eldest son did that and was therefore known as the Prince Regent...and that's where you get the term "regency" from. From the time the King went insane until the time the Prince Regent became King was known as the "regency" period. (Actually, the time until the death of the Prince Regent who was King at the time of his death is known as the long regency period.)

Enough of that. Here we have the poor Duchess of Kent....expecting. She has two other young children and she needs to leave her beloved home in Germany...and travel to England which was an uncomfortable and long trip for someone in her condition. And did anyone care? Did anyone help her? No. And she didn't even know how to speak English.

Some of the Duke of Kent's sisters intervened and spoke to the Prince Regent about preparing a place for the new couple who would be arriving in England, but the Prince was simply not interested. Did he hate the fact that his own daughter had died and that someone else would be succeeding him as sovereign?

Many letters flew back and forth from Germany and England. The Duke and Duchess of Kent knew they weren't being welcomed with open arms. It must have hurt the Duchess to know that. She had done nothing wrong. Her whole life was being turned upside down with this move to England and she was even having a baby. No one would give her husband the respect he was due, as one of the King's sons. The baby was due in May. The Duke and Duchess of Kent knew they needed to set off well in advance of that date so that the baby was born in England. It had to be. They could not take a chance that if the baby was born early they were not in England.

It was a long and tiring journey and one of the Duke's most trusted servants came with them. His name was Sir John Conroy, and he was very helpful to the Duke and Duchess. But one day...none of them could have known...Sir Conroy would be involved in a bitter dispute with Victoria and the cause of much misery. But, none of that had come about yet.

When they arrived in England, they were given apartments in Kensington Palace. The Duke of Kent was appalled. The apartments were in a total state of disrepair. (OH, and let me say that these apartments are not what WE would think as apartments....several bedrooms, a small drawing room...a library.....NO. They were massive apartments with at least two floors. There were servants rooms, a kitchen, libraries, bedrooms and sitting rooms, drawing rooms...even small ballrooms in some....) Still though, there were terrible drafts coming in through the windows, much of the wood was rotted in the window frames, it smelled damp, the rugs were threadbare, paint peeling and it was generally run down. Although the Duke of Kent was stretched for money, he somehow made arrangements for the interiors to be fixed adequately and he and the Duchess ordered furniture---even nursery furniture. Although ignored by the royal family by the most part, they were supremely happy when they moved into the apartments only several days before Princess Victoria was born in the middle of May.

The Duke of Kent was simply overjoyed! He doted on his wife and the baby Princess and spent much time in his new library which had been decorated elaborately. It was a happy time for the couple, although the Prince Regent treated them terribly on the day of Victoria's christening. He treated them so harshly that the Duchess of Kent was forced to hold back her tears. The Regent would not even agree to the parents choices of names for their child. She was to be known as Alexandrina.

Several months later, the family traveled to Sidmouth, near the sea. It was to be their Christmas holiday. It was the coldest winter there in many least as far as anyone could remember. They were excited to be there, but I suspect that with the wind, the terrible cold and snow they were hesitant to stay... and what happened there not only will chill you to the will never forget it as long as you live.

And I'll write about that next time.

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.