For those not in the know, that hirsute-looking fella is none other than John Brown, a favourite Scottish servant of Victoria’s in her later years who was also rumoured to be her lover after the untimely death of Prince Albert in 1861 (who the Queen survived for another 40 years).
During their friendship Victoria gave Brown medals and had portraits painted of him, and it was whispered that the pair had adjoining rooms and may have even been secretly married.
Whatever the truth, Victoria took Brown’s own 1883 death hard, commissioning statues and private memorials (later destroyed by her son Edward VII, who resented Brown) and writing in a letter that “life for the second time is become most trying and sad.” When the Queen herself passed away she was buried with trinkets relating to both Albert and Brown, including a lock of the latter’s hair.
The story of Victoria and Brown’s relationship was dramatized in hit 1997 film Mrs Brown (starring Dame Judi Dench and Billy Connolly, above), and considering the romantic mileage Godwin got from the similar-ish story of Victoria and Melbourne we can’t wait to see what she’ll cook up in future series.
But of course, we still need that perfect casting. If we were a middle-aged actor looking for work, we’d start growing a beard…
Victoria continues on ITV this Sunday 18th September at 9:00pm