The long-awaited third series of Victoria begins this Sunday, with the latest chapter of the young queen’s life proving to be one of the most difficult yet.
As well as estranged and meddlesome sister Feodora arriving to stir things up, Victoria (expertly played by Jenna Coleman) faces a genuine constitutional crisis after a series of revolutions across Europe see monarchs deposed – leaving the Queen fearing for her crown.
Her fears are not assuaged by the arrival of roguish new foreign secretary Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox), who utterly reuses to pay Queen Victoria the respect she is accustomed to.
The two are quick to clash in the show’s first episode, after the royal household is informed that Palmerston has been liaising with revolutionaries.
When Prince Albert (Tom Hugs) angrily tells Palmerston he had “no right to do that”, a sharp Palmerston replies, “Perhaps not, sir, but I speak for the people, and they believe that the rule of Europe by despots is coming to an end.”
And while Victoria questions his certainty of what the people think, the ever flirtatious Palmerston says, “The British public is like a beautiful woman and I wish to glory in her smiles.”
Fox said he channeled a mixture of Boris Johnson and Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka into playing the caddish and ambitious Foreign Sec.
“Palmerston is one of those people who would poke the elephant in the room,” he told RadioTimes.com at the Victoria press day. “He is swagger and twinkle.”
“He’s definitely got a bit of the Boris. Palmerston… he’s got huge ego and wants to be adored, but he also wants what’s best for the country. I tried to put in a bit more Willy Wonka that Boris Johnson.
“Victoria has to try and control her rage around him. It’s really fun. But we start getting on better towards the end, we have a begrudging respect for one another. I think we start to even like each other, maybe.”
Victoria returns Sunday at 9pm on ITV