Celebrate Victoria Day with Queen Victoria

By Margaret DeRosia ● May 11, 2017 14:00


Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria in 'The Young Victoria' (Courtesy of GK Films).


Colloquially known as the “May two-four” weekend, the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend marks the unofficial start of summer here in Canada.

Victoria Day honours Queen Victoria’s birthday, which Canadians have celebrated since Confederation. Queen Victoria was Britain’s longest reigning monarch at the time of her death in 1901 (a duration that only Queen Elizabeth II recently surpassed on September 9, 2015).

However you choose to spend the upcoming long weekend – hanging out at the cottage, watching fireworks or taking it easy – why not spend some time with the Queen herself? Here are some of the best onscreen stories, songs and games that feature this special member of the Royals front and centre.


Film

The Young Victoria

This 2009 British-American period drama chronicles the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. Made by French Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée ( Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, Big Little Lies) and written by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Downtown Abbey), it stars Emily Blunt in the titular role, navigating a new and demanding position once she turns eighteen years old. Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Mark Strong and Jim Broadbent round out a talented ensemble in a film that was nominated for three Academy Awards and won the Oscar for Best Costume Design.


Mrs. Brown

Also known as Her Majesty Mrs. Brown, this 1997 British drama was directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Judi Dench stars as the Queen – a role for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Billy Connolly and Gerard Butler costar, with Butler making his film debut. After the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, the Queen withdraws from public life. The court appoints a former servant of the prince, John Brown (Billy Connolly), to help her recover. While Brown's unorthodox approach draws the Queen out of her shell, their growing closeness stirs scandalous rumors.


Television

Victoria

This 2016 eight-part British drama series was first created by Daisy Goodwin and stars Jenna Coleman of Dr. Who fame in the lead. It depicts the early years of Queen Victoria’s rule, from her accession to the throne to her infatuation with Lord Melbourne, and from her courtship and early marriage to Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) to the birth of their first child. Catch up now, as an upcoming second season of the series is planned; it will follow Victoria's struggles as a mother, wife and Queen navigating new and often conflicting responsibilities.


Victoria and Albert

Also eschewing the later years, this 2001 British-American historical miniseries focuses on the early years of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s passionate love story and marriage. Directed by John Erman, the series starred Victoria Hamilton as Victoria, Jonathan Firth as Prince Albert and Peter Ustinov as King William IV.


Music

Queen Victoria was the only British monarch to be honoured by name in the title of the 1969 rock song, “Victoria,” by The Kinks. Since then, the English rock band The Kooks, English post-punk band The Fall, American alternative rock band Cracker, and American rock band Sonic Youth have all covered the song. Have a listen to the Kinks sing her praises.


Closer to home, Canadian singer Leonard Cohen refers to her in his 1972 song, "Queen Victoria," which was based on his 1964 poem.


And then John Cale later covered it.


Games

You might not picture Queen Victoria as an action hero or computer game avatar, but she even shows up here!

Civilization VI

Queen Victoria leads the English civilization in this 2016 4X game, developed by Firaxis Games. The game has won the Game Critics Awards 2016 – Best PC Game/Best Strategy Game and Best Strategy Game, as well as the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers in Game, Strategy.

Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun

In this 2003 Paradox Interactive grand strategy game, a player must guide a country through the Industrial Revolution, warfare and other historic events.

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate

Queen Victoria probably does not spring to mind as a character who’d appear in this popular 2015 action-adventure video game, developed by Ubisoft Quebec, but even here she reigns.


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Margaret DeRosia

Communications Specialist/Digital Writer & Editor