Top positive review
One person found this helpful
on 21 March 2017
This is an absolutely superb historical drama series, very well acted and produced, beautiful to look at, and exceptionally accurate in its attention to historical details such as fashion. Robert Hardy is a brilliant Prince Albert, Annette Crosbie a convincing Queen Victoria (though, as is bound to happen in a drama covering 60 years of someone's life, not young enough at the beginning and not old and frail enough at the end), and Timothy West a sympathetic Edward VII. A host of major and minor stars of the era provides nostalgic and captivating viewing: casting John Gielgud as Disraeli was a stroke of genius.
What of the interpretation? Edward VII is presented as growing from a frustrated and neglected young man into an experienced and wise politician, capable of charming the whole of Europe (except his angry young nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm) with a few words and warning insistently of the dangers of war and revolution. Queen Victoria is selfish, jealous, and insular; her husband unhealthily obsessed with discipline and maintaining the appearance of royal probity. The Kaiser is an unbalanced villain; Queen Alexandra's Russian relatives innocents incapable of seeing the weakness of their own position. Alexandra herself is one of the stars—good humoured, loyal, and approachable, her effectiveness limited by growing deafness and occasional obliviousness to the personal needs of some of her children. While some historians would put a more favourable construction on Victoria's behaviour, be less understanding of Edward's self-indulgent hedonism, and emphasize Alexandra's personal and intellectual limitations, there is nothing in this drama that is radically implausible. (I did not like the portrayal of all of the politicians, but with so many characters featuring over 13 episodes, there are bound to be a few one-dimensional appearances.)