Victoria & Albert: A Royal Love Affair

Victoria & Albert: A Royal Love Affair

by Daisy Goodwin, Sara Sheridan


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The official companion to the second season of the PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria by award-winning creator and screenwriter Daisy Goodwin.

More than 16 million viewers watched the first season of the Masterpiece presentation of Victoria, created and written by Daisy Goodwin—the highest-rated PBS drama in twenty years, second only to Downton Abbey. But what happened after the Queen married her handsome prince? Did they live happily ever after, or did their marriage, like so many royal marriages past and present, fizzle into a loveless round of duty?

This all-new companion book by Daisy Goodwin and Sara Sheridan transports us to the private world of Victoria and Albert. Though first cousins, they could not have been more different: Victoria was impulsive, emotional, and capricious, Albert cautious, self-controlled, and logical. But together they forged a bond with each other and with their people that would change the world. Drawing on letters and diaries and fresh insights into royal history, this gorgeous book charts the constant ebb and flow of power within the couple’s surprisingly ardent and modern marriage.

Sumptuously illustrated and full of rich insider detail, Victoria & Albert takes us behind the scenes of the magnificent TV drama, including fascinating, in-depth information on the actors, the props, and the costumes – and bringing an extraordinary royal marriage even more fully to life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250175304
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/21/2017
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 163,150
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Daisy Goodwin, creator and screenwriter of the Masterpiece presentation Victoria on PBS, is also the author of the novel Victoria, as well as the New York Times bestsellers The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter. She attended Columbia University's film school as a Harkness scholar after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, and was chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in London.

Sara Sheridan studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and lives in Edinburgh. An historical novelist and journalist, she says, "History is a treasure chest which contains not only facts and figures, archive material and artefacts but stories. I love the stories." She has received a Scottish Library Award and was shortlisted for the Saltire Book Prize. Sara is the author of the Mirabelle Bevan Mystery series, including London Calling and Brighton Belle.

Read an Excerpt



'Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.'


In the winter of 1840 at Buckingham Palace, only a few weeks after the 21-year-old Queen Victoria had given birth to her first daughter, Victoria ('Vicky'), the Queen was taking tea by the open fire with her husband, Prince Albert, and some of her ladies-in-waiting. It was clear that Victoria was upset; there were red patches on her cheeks and her eyes were glassy. Those in attendance knew that the couple had argued and the Queen had been crying, but nobody said a word about it. Victoria had a temper and was prone to outbursts, so her ladies were used to treading on eggshells to avoid getting on the wrong side of her.

Suddenly, overcome by fury, Victoria snapped. Eyes blazing, she took up her cup and threw the hot tea all over her husband. Albert sprang from his chair. 'What do you think of that?' he said irritably, drying his face with a handkerchief. The tea had stained his silk cravat and jacket – he was lucky not to have been burned. Albert never rose to his wife's temper tantrums and, instead, he stalked out of the room. This did nothing to alleviate Victoria's anger and left her ladies squirming with discomfort.

VICTORIA: I just remembered how awful it was, at Kensington. I never knew what it meant to be happy.

MELBOURNE: But you knew it was possible.

VICTORIA: I always knew that I would make my own way, one day.

Victoria had only just discovered that, even before her first child, the infant princess, had been christened, she was pregnant again. She hated the idea of being tied to 'breeding'. For a woman who had escaped a suffocating childhood and cast off her ambitious mother and her mother's insidious advisor, Sir John Conroy, to take the throne in her own right, child-bearing felt like a trap that took her away from the life she really wanted. As far as Victoria was concerned, it was too soon to get pregnant again and it felt desperately unfair. She clearly blamed Albert, and much preferred the challenges of ruling the country to the job of securing the succession.

'There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow creatures than this deceased king.'


When Victoria came to the throne on 20 June 1837, the British royal family was not popular. The House of Hanover, of which she was the sixth successive monarch, was viewed as foreign and corrupt. There hadn't been a woman on the throne for more than a century – not since the death of Queen Anne in 1714 – and many questioned whether a woman as young as Victoria could do the job. At under five feet tall, she was tiny, didn't have the formidable presence of Elizabeth I, and had only inherited the throne because her many uncles had failed to produce a legitimate male heir.


Victoria did not believe in votes for women. She was furious with her daughter, Princess Alice, for supporting the suffragist cause. But then, if you are the most powerful woman in the world, you don't need the ballot box to make your voice heard. My feeling about Victoria is that while she liked to portray herself as a devoted wife, who left all the important stuff to her husband, this could not have been further from the truth. Victoria may have said that women were not suited to politics, but that didn't stop her from taking a view on (and some would say meddling in) the affairs of state for the whole of her sixty-three years on the throne. Victoria may have looked up with submissive adoration at Albert in family photographs, but in reality she had strong views about everything. I particularly like the letter that she wrote to the Home Secretary in 1889 with her advice on the best way to catch Jack the Ripper: had he, she enquired, 'searched the seamen's hostels for bloody clothing?'

One of the most empowering aspects of Victoria's character for a modern woman is her total lack of guilt. As a working mother I have spent my entire working life agonising over whether I was giving my children enough attention. Victoria was refreshingly free of this modern malaise. She was also wonderfully free from vanity; she loved good looks in others, but didn't spend hours in front of the mirror agonising about her own. Her fashion sense was idiosyncratic; when she visited France the courtiers laughed at the bag she carried around, which was embroidered with a golden poodle. It had been made for her by her daughter Vicky and Victoria didn't care what the French thought.

What makes Victoria so interesting is that instead of pretending to be a man like her celebrated predecessor Elizabeth I, who famously made a speech declaring that she had the 'body of a weak and feeble woman, but the heart and stomach of a king', Victoria found a way of ruling as a woman, not as a surrogate man. She did not don the Victorian equivalent of a power suit, but kept her bonnet on throughout her reign. Victoria showed the world that it was possible to be a wife, a mother and the most powerful woman in the world. That is why, to me, she is the most surprising and inspiring heroine. Her position meant that she didn't have to wait for a man to make the first move – she proposed to Albert – and no man was allowed to interrupt her. And she loved sex. Victoria was fallible and often infuriating, but she never doubted her own worth. How many women can say the same?

THE QUEEN'S DRESSER, SKERRETT: No one here will have jewels like yours, Ma'am.

* * *

At first Victoria had been seen as the 'bottom of the barrel' and there had been publicly aired concerns that she would never be able to manage the duties required. The young Queen had a lot to prove. Immediately issues were raised, including a royal family feud, when Victoria's uncle, Ernest, became King of Hanover and claimed that the Hanoverian Jewels were, in part, his inheritance. While this issue rumbled on, Victoria quickly established herself as queen, and in less than three years she had married, given birth and established herself as a competent political operator. But pregnancy took her away from public life and it also altered her fledgling relationship with her handsome new husband. Both of them were still finding their feet within the relationship and, indeed, at court.


Primogeniture is the custom or law of the first-born legitimate son inheriting the throne in preference to daughters or older illegitimate sons. According to this practice, a female member of a dynasty can only succeed to the throne if she has no living brothers and no deceased brothers with surviving legitimate descendants. A dynast's sons and their lines of descent all come before that dynast's daughters and their lines. Older sons and their lines come before younger sons and their lines. Older daughters and their lines come before younger daughters and their lines. Britain, unlike France, Russia and Hanover, did not have Salic law, which prevented women from inheriting the throne. Victoria's predecessor, William IV, had been King of Great Britain and Hanover. However, Victoria, as a woman, could not inherit the throne of Hanover, so the crown went to the male in succession – the Duke of Cumberland.

Victoria became the heir apparent upon the death of her father in 1820 for this very reason – she was his only child, and the uncles who were older than her father had no legitimate heirs who survived childhood, and although two of the younger uncles did have legitimate sons, Victoria's claim took precedence because her father was the next in line. It was a different story for Victoria's own daughter, of course. Princess Victoria, though the first-born of the Queen's nine children, was passed over in favour of her younger brother, Bertie, who became King Edward VII in 1901 on Victoria's death.

The alliance Victoria had made with Albert was key to her success as monarch. The young couple were very much in love – Victoria wrote reams about Albert in her diary, sometimes multiple times a day. She idolised her handsome cousin and set down her happiness at their life together in the pages of her journal, sparing few details about the sexual nature of their relationship. 'We didn't sleep much,' she admitted smugly the morning after their wedding. Albert's style in his (less frequently kept) diary is less effusive, but in his letters to his wife he often declared his ardour, signing himself 'in body and soul ever your slave' in one of 1839.

The future of the monarchy rested on the shoulders of these two young people – still in their very early twenties – yet all was not entirely well at the start. Victoria was nervous at first of Albert encroaching on her position as Queen. The Prince declared he only wanted to help his wife undertake her duties, but Victoria didn't entirely trust him. On matters of state in the early days she often turned for advice to her first prime minister, Lord Melbourne (see here–here), and to her childhood governess and confidante, Baroness Louise Lehzen (see here–here), before consulting Albert, if she consulted him at all.

* * *

VICTORIA: You couldn't beat me even with a head start.

ALBERT: Maybe I know how happy it makes you to win, Liebes.


'I'm trying to play this impulsive young girl that's full of passion and vitality squeezed into the role of queen ... She finds controlling herself difficult.'


The years covered in the second series of Victoria were in some ways the heyday of Victoria's young life. She had broken free from the influence of her mother, escaped the confines of the Kensington System (the restrictive set of rules she had to live by as a child) and was starting married life with the man she loved. However, these years also had their challenges.

The loss of her beloved Lord Melbourne as prime minister in 1841 was difficult, and though Sir Robert Peel slowly proved himself a worthy replacement, she struggled to let go. Across Europe the old royal regimes were being challenged. While there were some gains in British military action, there were also losses, and as a national figurehead it was down to Victoria to maintain national pride and optimism.

Victoria's greatest challenge during this period, however, was undoubtedly that of motherhood. She bore four children in five years while also ruling the country.

Ultimately, Victoria came through with flying colours and the period can be seen as her coming of age and the years in which her marriage established itself. She was, above all else, a passionate young woman, discovering her own sexuality and exercising power over her world in a way that no other woman of the era could. Her achievement was to maintain a sound public face while enjoying the private family life she craved. As the constraints of her childhood fell away and with her young family established, the trials and tribulations of these years form the foundation of one of the longest and most successful reigns in British history.

* * *

VICTORIA: Albert, Lehzen said your father was propositioning one of the ballet dancers last night. He should go back to Coburg.

* * *

The task Victoria faced should not be underestimated. All across Europe, in the 1830s and 1840s, new philosophical movements were developing and in the early years of Victoria's reign there were huge social and political upheavals. The Chartist movement, which began with Victoria's reign, demanded universal suffrage, secret ballots and votes for women. The stage was set for rebellions Europe-wide by the end of the 1840s and in Britain it was no different. It's easy to forget the unpopularity of the monarchy in Victoria's early days on the throne and that on seven occasions there were attempts on her life. If Victoria wanted the British monarchy to survive, she would have to make changes to how it was viewed.

'It is worth being shot at – to see how much one is loved.'

~LETTER FROM VICTORIA TO HER ELDEST DAUGHTER, VICKY, 6 MARCH 1882 As her consort in this endeavour, Albert was a good choice. Victoria's uncles who had previously sat on the throne had been louche, lavish and egotistical. They were not loved or, indeed, widely respected. Together, Victoria and Albert quickly began to change the way British royalty presented itself, updating the public persona of the royal family and gradually winning supporters to their cause. Big decisions were taken on the comfortable sofas of their drawing rooms, but often the changes the young couple made were small. They were both shrewd publicists and well aware of the anti-German sentiment that had been levelled at the House of Hanover for more than a century, so while they spoke German in private, they stuck to English in public.

Their relationship became an important tool for Victoria – a young couple very much in love proved a great rallying point for public attention. She and Albert, despite early apparent differences in interests, grew to have a lot in common, both loving the open air, music, books, history and art, and they were almost unique as a royal couple in their loyalty to each other.

* * *

LEOPOLD: I had just lost my beloved Charlotte and your father had left her all alone here with your brother, and ... well ... we comforted one another.

* * *

Generations of predecessors in both of their families had been mired in infidelity and marital scandal, and the young couple's devotion was a breath of fresh air that left many subjects feeling inspired. Albert claimed to feel nauseous at the very thought of sex outside of marriage, and there is no doubt that the young Queen felt a huge physical pull towards her husband. She was passionate about him and referred to their time in bed as 'fun'.

The flipside of this, however, was her temper. For Albert's part, he was a steady character – loyal to his wife and skilled at not rising to her provocations. This serious young German had a world-class political mind, and although Albert was disliked in some quarters simply for being a foreigner and for not enjoying sport or taking part in small talk, he soon impressed the likes of Lord Melbourne with his intellectual abilities, which would – once she let him use them – prove a boon for his young wife.

'I walked out with my precious Angel, all alone – so delightful, on the Terrace and new Walk, arm in arm! Eos our only companion. We talked a great deal together.'


But the bond between Victoria and Albert wasn't only social and sexual; they had one other thing in common. Both were the products of broken homes. In addition, rumours persistently circulated that Albert was illegitimate. Albert's mother, Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, separated from her husband when Albert was only five years of age. She was exiled from the Saxe-Coburg court at Rosenau, and when she went she handed both her sons into their father's care. Albert had been the Princess's marked favourite, leading some historians to conclude that he was, indeed, a love child.

* * *

ALBERT: At least Ernst knows who his father is.

* * *

If he was, there were two candidates for Louise's attention at the relevant time. One was the Baron von Mayern, the court chamberlain. Mayern was musical (like Albert) and sophisticated, but he was much older than the Princess and essentially a member of her household staff. The second candidate visited the Princess's home at the time when Albert would have been conceived – Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (who was both Victoria and Albert's uncle) spent several weeks at Rosenau over the winter after his wife, Princess Charlotte, died in childbirth. Louise wrote of his visit and of his being a widower, 'He still feels, with fervour, what it means to be happy and to be loved,' she said. She also asked a friend to tell her if she considered her husband or Prince Leopold to be the more handsome, saying, 'I love them both, only in different ways.'

There are no records to show whether or not Victoria was aware of the question hanging over Albert's legitimacy, but gossip at court was certainly always rife. The lives of all courtiers depended on the monarch and any such questions were the subject of excited interest. This threat of illegitimacy sheds light on Victoria and Albert's marital devotion and their horror of infidelity – an unusual attitude at the time in their circle. They took each other seriously and together faced the job in hand. Victoria was in frequent contact with Uncle Leopold – in fact, he helped arrange her marriage to Albert – so if she was aware of the rumours, she didn't hold them against him. She was also kind about Albert's mother, naming her fourth daughter Louise after her. Whether she did this because she adored her husband or because she simply didn't know the rumours about the Princess's behaviour, we just don't know.


Excerpted from "Victoria & Albert"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Sara Sheridan with Daisy Goodwin.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Cast List,
Picture Credits,
About the Authors,

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Victoria & Albert: A Royal Love Affair 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
rokinrev More than 1 year ago
There is not much to this book. It is primarily a look book for the second season of the BBC/WGBH Masterpiece program filled with background of both the characters and to a lesser extent the actors who played them. In Daisy Goodwin’s own voice, she consistently turns back to Victoria’s own diaries to prove the integration and interpretations she has made in the screenplay. And that is how I will leave it. The photography and historical references are compliments as well as proofs. Recommended for those who (have) watch(ed) the Victoria on Masterpiece seasons one and two. For those who haven’t, my suggestion is read the first biography by Daisy Goodwin, and save this one for after it. 4/5
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
About a year ago I read Victoria by Daisy Goodwin (see review HERE) and was thrilled to learn that Victoria was going to be a PBS series. I immediately set my DVR to record them all. Currently I am caught up on season one and am excited for season two to be coming soon. When Victoria and Albert: A Royal Affair arrived in my mailbox I could hardly wait to open it up. While it looks like a coffee table book, with the bright and beautiful pictures, the thick pages each with their own stories about the Queen and Prince, there is so much information. There is historical information and there is information about what went into making the series historically correct. Everything from the costumes, the sets, to the food that was served was shared. The pictures were bright and beautiful and the writing was quick and easy to follow. I am now even more excited for the next season of Victoria to be released.