As her death approaches, Queen Victoria writes her last diary entry before entrusting Beatrice to prepare its many volumes for publication. Her surviving children arrive to say their last farewell.
Beatrice begins reading the diaries, recalling the mother she knew from her childhood: a widow unable to recover from the death of her husband. As Beatrice remembers, the past unfolds.
Victoria is living in seclusion with her only servant John Brown and her young daughter Beatrice as her close companions. Appalled by his mother’s intimacy with Brown and her disregard of public duty, her son Bertie attempts to draw her out of mourning. Observed by Benjamin Disraeli, Victoria initially refuses but is eventually persuaded by Brown to return to public life.
In Parliament, Disraeli brings about legislation to create Victoria Empress of India, a move which is unpopular with many, including his own ministers. Later, Victoria and Disraeli celebrate the Queen’s imperial status and a young Beatrice is fascinated by exotic far flung territories.
Victoria takes Brown to Albert's mausoleum as their relationship deepens from that of Queen and servant, to one of love between two human beings.
Distressed by what she perceives as Victoria’s betrayal of Albert’s memory, Beatrice tears pages from the diary, censoring Brown’s story and hastening its conclusion. She begins to transcribe the diaries.
Now grown up, Beatrice bears the burden of her mother’s grief. Victoria is in mourning once more, this time for her beloved John Brown. They are visited by Victoria’s sons and their growing families, but Victoria forbids any suggestion of marriage for Beatrice.
Beatrice meets Liko and the pair fall secretly in love. They become engaged but Victoria is furious that Beatrice would entertain the idea of leaving her and refuses permission.
Beatrice tears more pages from the diary; editing out these unhappy memories and skipping forward to a happier time.
Victoria finally permits the couple to be married on the condition that they remain living with her. In an act of reconciliation, she presents her wedding veil to Beatrice. The couple's happiness however, is soon diluted by Victoria’s demands. Liko becomes frustrated and leaves for military service in Africa.
Beatrice frantically tries to prevent her husband from leaving but she cannot change the past.
Liko has died in Africa and a stricken Beatrice receives his belongings. United in grief, Victoria hands her daughter a black dress so that Beatrice too becomes a widow.
Beatrice realises how much her mother has moulded her in her own image, and she has colluded in it. She gives in to anger.
Seeking to understand her mother, Beatrice opens an early volume of Victoria’s diaries. As she opens the book, a younger version of Victoria is revealed.
A lonely young Princess Victoria writes in her diary. Victoire and Conroy burst in and demand to see her notebook.
Early the next morning Victoria is woken by her mother. She is visited by Lord Melbourne and Uncle Leopold who inform her that she is now Queen. Later, Victoria impresses the gathered ministers with her composure.
Ministers and military men engage in the dirty politics of the opium trade. Lord Melbourne shields Victoria from these aspects of foreign policy and educates her on her responsibilities as sovereign.
At a party, Victoria is presented with potential suitors. Uncle Leopold and Victoire favour their nephew Albert for Victoria’s hand in marriage, but Victoria evades the issue.
Beatrice is fascinated to read about the father she barely knew and discover her mother’s initial indifference to the man she later loved so much.
Victoria prepares for her coronation, shunning her mother who has come to assist her. In a parallel ritual, Lord Melbourne smokes opium.
Later, Victoria is surprised by the change in Albert since their first meeting and is intensely attracted to him. The couple fall in love, marry and celebrate their wedding night.
Beatrice is shocked by the details in her mother’s writing and once again, edits the diary.
As Victoria returns to the business of ruling, Albert is unimpressed by Lord Melbourne and frustrated by his own lack of authority. He sets about gaining influence, impressing everyone with his abilities.
Victoria submits to her husband as he shares his vision for their future but not without conflict. Tension erupts as he suggests her role should be that of mother to their children and they fight. Eventually Victoria gives in.
Albert pursues his ideals for the future. He masterminds the Great Exhibition and a pregnant Victoria is amazed and proud of her husband. Albert juggles his growing workload with the creation of a dynasty; dreaming of a new Europe unified through his growing family. Increasingly burned out by the pressure of his responsibilities, he dies.
In her grief, Victoria snatches up her youngest child Beatrice, retreating with her into widowhood.
Beatrice makes peace with the memory of her mother. Her task completed, she closes the final diary and moves on.
Final photo features The Young Victoria Tiara, an exact replica of the one worn by Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was Swarovski’s first customer via couturier George Frederick Worth, who embroidered her gowns with Swarovski Crystals.
Photos on this page by Justin Slee.
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