There’s a mixed bag of facts and fictions in the Victoria Season 3 finale…Find out what’s real history versus what’s just really dramatic, courtesy of series writer and creator Daisy Goodwin, who especially likes one plot point she invented—and we bet you did, too!
Fact or Fiction: Feodora's daughter Adelheid came to court.
Fact: “She did come to Britain, and there was talk of her marrying the emperor. I’ve slightly conflated a lot of that, but yes, it was in the air.”
Indeed, Napoleon III did make a proposal of marriage to the parents of 16-year-old Princess Adelheid. The newly-minted emperor had been rejected by Princess Carolina of Sweden, and a union with Adelheid would have been especially advantageous for the ruler in promoting an alliance between France and Britain. However, such a union was not to be; not wanting to align with an unstable, revolutionary regime, Victoria and Albert did not endorse it, and Adelheid’s parents declined the offer. The emperor went on to make a love match with the woman he’d unsuccessfully tried to make his mistress, Eugénie de Montijo, and Victoria’s niece married Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein.
Fact or Fiction: Bertie had a crush on Heidi.
Fiction: No, I’m afraid I made that up. But I like that!
Fact or Fiction: Albert agonized about the Exhibition.
Fact: Yes, he was genuinely very perturbed. He was a man of incredible vision, and he had the vision to do it, but he was also terrified that it would be a disaster and that the monarchy would be tainted as a result. So it was a very difficult circumstance.
Fact or Fiction: Ticket sales were suppressed because of worries about anarchists and working-class people at the Exhibition.
Fact: Yes, they worried about anarchists, and whether there would be too many foreigners in Hyde Park, and that people would pee everywhere. So that’s why they had to invent the public lavatory—which is where the expression “spend a penny” comes from—that’s all true.
And it was a stupendous success. A lot of people came to London who’d never been to London before…Most people were living in villages or towns—they didn’t even really have shops—and then suddenly, to see all these incredible things, it must have been just gobsmaking. It would be like coming across the Internet, it was so extraordinary. Queen Victoria’s favorite exhibit was the taxidermied kitten wedding!
Fact or Fiction: Albert collapsed after Exhibition.
Fiction: I think he was exhausted, so it’s a metaphor, that collapse, for the toll that had been taken on his health. And I wanted it to be a moment—both a triumph, and the seeds of tragedy that are already there.