Mädchenjahre einer Königin (Victoria in Dover) (1954)
Director: Ernst Marischka.
Starring: Romy Schneider (Princess Victoria / Queen Victoria), Adrian Hoven (Prince Albert), Magda Schneider (Baroness Lehzen), Karl Ludwig Diehl (Lord Melbourne), Christl Mardayn (Duchess of Kent), Paul Hörbiger (Prof. Landmann), Rudolf Vogel (George), Fred Liewehr (Leopold), Alfred Neugebauer (Lord Conyngham), Otto Treßler (Archbishop of Canterbury), Stefan Skodler (Sir John Conroy), Peter Weck (Prince Henry of Orange), Rudolf Lenz (Archduke Alexander of Russia), Hans Thimig (The Dean), Peter Gerhard (Taglione).
Victoria becomes the Queen of England and falls in love in Dover
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
London. 1837. Victoria's mother writes a letter to her brother Leopold, the King of Belgium. She asks him for some help with managing her daughter Victoria. Victoria is having class with a private tutor. She falls asleep while the tutor reads from a book. She awakens and starts answering the tutor's pointed questions. With Victoria is Baroness Lehzen, who is an aide and a personal friend to Victoria. After the class is over, she has to be instructed in how to walk artfully. She seems really tired of so many classes.
Leopold shows up to speak with his sister and then to Victoria. He reports that the king of England is on his death bed and Victoria must be told that she may become the next sovereign of England. Leopold wants Baroness Lehzen to tell Victoria since she has such a good relationship with Victoria. Victoria comes in to greet Leopold and her mother. In the presence of her uncle, Victoria asks that she be allowed one hour every day in which she could just be alone and unbothered by others. Her mother perceives this as a criticism of herself and she leaves the room crying. Victoria is also upset since she is not making any progress with her mother.
Victoria's mother and her best friend Mr. Conroy confer with each other. They agree that they must get rid of Lord Melbourne. Victoria overhears some of the conversation and she notices that the two appear to be a bit too friendly with each other. It's obvious that Victoria does not like Conroy. After speaking with her mother for a few moments, Victoria leaves. Baroness Lehzen sees that Victoria is upset and she asks her what's wrong. Victoria tells her and the Baroness uses the occasion to tell her about King William IV. She explains that he has no direct descendants. And there is no one left in his immediate and close family. There is not one left but . . . Bingo! Victoria gets the message. She tells the Baroness: "I'll be good."
Lord Conyngham and the Archbishop of Canterbury come to speak with Victoria's mother. The mother speaks with them and then goes to get Victoria immediately. When Victoria comes in the two men kneel and kiss her hand. "The King is dead!" they tell her. Victoria will be crowned Queen. And it doesn't take long before mom tries to rule over her young daughter. She tells Victoria to fire Lord Melbourne. (She gives her a script of what to say to Melbourne. Victoria notices that the note is in Conroy's handwriting.) Victoria tells her mother that she will give Conroy a good pension, but he must leave immediately. Mom is very upset at this likely loss of her best friend. Mom leaves. Victoria tells her main servant George that she wants to be alone for an hour.
Lord Melbourne visits with Baroness Lehzen. He wants to get on her good side. The two talk, find they are in agreement and make a deal to support each other. Melbourne then looks in the library. He hears some strange noises and then realizes they are coming from a lightly sleeping Victoria sitting in a chair. He sees a note fall from her lap. He puts it back on her lap but reads the short letter. He is reassured because the note asks Melbourne to be the head of her government. Victoria awakens and talks with Melbourne. They soon become very friendly and Melbourne actually walks her through the upcoming coronation ceremony.
When Victoria appears before her councilors and others she starts to feel faint. But she does manage to get through her short statement. Melbourne shouts: "Long live the Queen!" and the others in the audience join in with the cheer. Queen Victoria insists on being able to read the newspapers, but Melbourne does everything he can to prevent this. So Victoria has to sneak in the newspapers. She tells a guard and he tells a coachman who gets the newspapers.
Melbourne comes for a visit to the Queen with a long face. Victoria asks him what's wrong and she says Uncle Leopold just got finished criticizing him and his foreign policy. Victoria cheers him when she says that they will have to tell Leopold that he should just let them rule England as they think best. Outside her window the guard hangs the string-bound newspapers from his bayonet on his rifle and whistles to the Queen. Victoria gets very nervous because Lord Melbourne is with her in her office. She steps in front of the window to prevent Melbourne from seeing the package. After Melbourne leaves, she grabs the papers and immediately starts to read them. But she soon has a slightly hurt look on her face. The papers contain a lot of criticism of her and her government.
Victoria wants to see Lords Melbourne, Palmerston and Russell. She does not understand why she can't have her wishes and desires put into effect virtually immediately. The three Lords start to tell her about the role of the Queen and Parliament, but she is very impatient. She threatens to resign as Queen and leaves. It is obvious she does not understand or appreciate the role of Parliament in the politics of the realm. She tells the Baroness: "I'm so disillusioned." The Baroness tries to cheer her up.
Lord Melbourne talks with Victoria's mother and says that it is about time Victoria got married. His pick for a husband is Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Mom comes up with the Prince of Orange as the best possible candidate, while Leopold wants Prince Alexander of Russia. When Victoria learns about the plans for her marriage, she becomes very defiant and says she will not marry for twenty years.
Melbourne pays a visit to Victoria with good news. Parliament past a complete reform of the welfare system. He then switches to the topic of the death penalty. The only crimes involving the death penalty are high treason, murder, piracy, rape . . . . Victoria asks him what is rape. Melbourne can't believe she doesn't know. When he starts to explain it to her she just looks totally lost and he feels very uncomfortable. In fact, he feels so uncomfortable that he tells her he will defer her signing the document for a year (rather than have to explain the nature of sex to her).
The three candidates for husbandry will be coming for Victoria's birthday party. She tells George to get the coach ready for they are going to Windsor for a couple of day. Basically she is running away. On the road, Victoria tells him to head toward Dover instead of Windsor. Victoria and the Baroness are going to Paris.
At an inn Prince Albert talks with his teacher, Professor Landmann. Victoria and her party stop at the same inn. George tries to get Victoria the best and warmest room so he tries to chase Albert and the Professor out of their room. The two men think the fellow is crazy. (George is under orders not to mention the Queen of England wants the room.) George has to tell the very cold Victoria that he could not get her a better room. She gives an errand to George to do and he leaves. She remembers that she needs some logs for the fire. She tries to catch George but sees Prince Albert instead. Thinking he is the inn keeper she tells him to bring up some logs for her. Albert thinks it's funny and so he gets the logs. When he comes back she asks him to restart the fire. But Albert does not know how to get a fire started. Victoria has to show him how to start the fire. They get the fire restarted. She talks more with the "innkeeper" and learns that the stranger is not even a member of the inn staff. She tells the man to get out of her room and he complies. In just a little while, he returns to get the wood basket. Victoria takes the opportunity to ask him if Prince Albert was aboard ship with him. Yes, in fact, the Prince was on the ship. He describes the Prince for her. He then starts talking about the Queen. The stranger says that the Prince would never marry Victoria because he would never want to be a lackey to a wife. Moreover, he says he hears that she is so small that she is shorter than a cork in a bottle. Victoria becomes angry and again tells the stranger to "Get out!"
Prince Albert and Professor Landmann go to the dining room for dinner. A little later Victoria and the Baroness come down for dinner. They all sit together. In the dining room is Johann Strauss and other musicians headed to London for the birthday of Queen Victoria. Strauss plays his waltzes on the piano. Albert invites Victoria to dance the waltz. She does not know how so he offers to teach her. They start dancing. A little later they are joined by the Baroness and the Professor. Victoria and Albert dance for many hours. When she finally returns to her room she is still dancing the waltz. She sits on the balcony and falls asleep. Albert is a bit drunk. He climbs up a lattice to get to the balcony. There he flirts with Victoria again. Victoria knows he's drunk and she sends him away. The Baroness arrives and Victoria tells her that she had five glasses of wine. But not one person in her party, including Victoria, brought any money with them. And they owe the inn four pounds.
Albert talks with the Professor and says: "I will marry this girl!" This upsets the Professor who knows that Albert is to marry the Queen. So he goes to Victoria's room to talk with her. He tells her a secret. His student is none other than Prince Albert and he is to become engaged to the Queen. The problem is that he is falling in love with her, the charming woman in the inn. The Professor then offers her 30 pounds to step out of the way and leave Dover immediately. Now Victoria wants to get back to London as soon as possible. She takes four pounds from the Professor to pay her bill and agrees to leave immediately.
Victoria attends her own birthday party. There she is introduced to the Prince of Orange and Prince Alexander. She wonders where Albert can be. He and the Professor arrive late. She asks Albert to dance the waltz with her. Out on the floor they twirl. The Professor motions to him not to hold her so tight. But when he increases the distance between himself and Victoria, she thinks something is wrong. Things go from bad to worse and Victoria is thinking that Albert has insulted her. She thinks he does not love her anymore. Albert tries to explain that it was all a misunderstanding, but her feelings are so hurt that she withdraws, thereby insulting all three suitors and their supporters.
Lord Melbourne has to save the day. He explains what happened and assures Victoria that Albert loves her very much. Albert told him so personally. Now Victoria is ecstatic again. She tries to make Melbourne a knight of the Order of the Garter, but he turns it down. He says it would place him too high over his equals and would be a social hindrance to him. He is leaving Her Majesty's government and asks to be excused. Before leaving he tells Victoria how much he enjoyed working and being with her. Victoria cries as Melbourne leaves.
Prince Albert has an appointment to see the Queen. He is allowed into her receiving room. George is send out to get some wood to make a fire. The couple fumble around for some time. Albert says that the rules of the court say that he cannot ask her, she has to ask him. So she does. They kiss. George starts to come into the room with the wood for the fire and is surprised to see them kissing passionately. He smiles a big smile, steps back and closes the door.
Entertaining movie. This is a very nice (much too "nice" actually) love story about how Queen Victoria and Prince Albert fell in love and became engaged. Other movies about this subject are a lot closer to the truth, but are certainly not as charming as this movie. It's a feel good movie and worth watching even if it is not the best historical depiction on the subject. My wife loved the movie.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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