Susanna Spencer has a masters in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is a writer and the theological editor for Blessed is She and co-author of the children’s devotional book, Rise Up: Shining in Virtue. She is a homeschooling mother of four and lives with her family in St. Paul, Minnesota. Find her at her blog, Living With Lady Philosophy.
Living in a court full of scandal, Queen Victoria had one thing the nobility around her did not have: a faithful husband committed to his love for her and her family. From the first season of ITV’s Victoria, where Victoria first learns of her male relatives having mistresses, to the third season, which shows a strong marriage after 10 years between Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, I have been impressed with a modern television show, which airs on PBS in the United States, that presents a real and relatable account of Christian marriage. While Albert and Victoria are often presented as overly strict among those of the court, their strong Christian principles are still front and center in the show, and there is a stark contrast between their marriage and the other marriages and relationships around them.
First of all, it is clear that both Victoria and Albert have waited for their wedding night, faithful to each other before and during marriage. This is not an expected thing for men of high rank royalty, but Albert feels strongly about being faithful to his wife from before marriage and throughout. He tells her again and again, that it is she that he wants and no one else, even when their relationship is strained through arguments and political tensions. Victoria from their engagement on, only has eyes for him, depending on him entirely.
Victoria and Albert support each other in their dreams and work. She helps him and encourages him as he tries to find his role as Crown Prince, trying to fit into a foreign land. It is fun to see Albert’s interest in science throughout the show from the railroad to the great exhibition in the Crystal Palace. He honors her as a Queen, but also helps her see things realistically when she tends toward the ridiculous. She struggles as many a modern mother has between her duty to work and her love for her family. Albert supports her through this, especially as she battles post-partum depression after each birth of their nine children.
While they by no means have a perfect marriage, arguing and bickering almost continually, they have a persevering one, never giving up when things get difficult. It is beautiful to see a married couple struggle through a conflict. The true care they have for each other comes out at the end of each argument — at times they fight because they love each other. For only in a strong marriage can couples expose each other’s vulnerable and weak points and through tough love draw them on to be better. In a particular moving conversation, they talk about how after 10 years of marriage their love has changed, perhaps for the better.
They had seven children in their first 10 years of marriage, a strain on any woman, let alone a queen. The first season deals with Victoria’s early fears of having children: losing her figure, dying in childbirth, and her husband ceasing to love her because of these things. At one point she tries a naïve way to avoid conception by jumping up and down. Albert finds her jumping and assures her that the only way to be sure of not having a child is through abstinence — which is now a very Catholic way of thinking about things, and by no means easy. He also assures her that he very much wants to have children with her, and she realizes that she agrees.
The later seasons show their struggles and joys in parenting their children. Childhood illnesses fill the whole household with fear, and swift recoveries relieve them all. Albert’s struggles to teach his eldest son are particularly relatable as well as Victoria’s ability to reach their son with love and empathy. Then there is the moment when Victoria tells Albert that she is expecting a child once again, and they both look at each other with watery eyes, trying to feel happy despite feeling overwhelmed. They are both fully aware of the hard work it takes to raise a child with principles and want to be able to put in that effort.
Perhaps what makes the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert particularly moving is their commitment to their duty to each other, their children, their work, even when loving each other is so, so difficult. This love stands out against all the other plot lines of jealousy, forbidden love affairs and open infidelity. What they have in their marriage is good and beautiful, and even a show made in an amoral society cannot hide that.