A few weeks ago ITV historical drama Victoria saw the titular Queen finally tie the knot, with Jenna Coleman’s monarch marrying Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) and beginning a new stage in her reign.
However, said marriage also caused her to say goodbye to faithful Prime Minister and former love interest Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell), who previously had to reject Victoria’s romantic advances for the good of the country and bid farewell to Coleman’s Queen in heartfelt scenes. Since then, he hasn’t appeared in the series except when mentioned by others, and now seems to be fading from discussion altogether.
So what gives – has Lord Melbourne stepped back to let Albert take over as the Queen’s right-hand man, or will he be back in future episodes? Has Rufus Sewell departed the series for good? And wouldn’t he have to lose a general election before he left anyway?
To find out the answers to these questions, read on…
So has Rufus Sewell left Victoria?
Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria with Rufus Sewell’s Melbourne
We’re afraid it’s bad news for anyone still hoping to defy history and see Victoria and Melbourne together – because after speaking to a publicist for the series, RadioTimes.com can confirm that episode five was the last we’ll see of Rufus Sewell in the 2016 series. Bye-bye Lord M.
Why did Lord Melbourne leave?
In real life Lord Melbourne continued as Prime Minister for around a year after Victoria and Albert’s 1840 marriage, but 1841 saw the beginning of his downfall. Melbourne’s government lost a vote of no confidence in June (basically meaning that other MPs deemed his government unfit, in a motion spearheaded by rival party leader Sir Robert Peel), leading Queen Victoria to dissolve Parliament and kick off a general election.
In the ensuing election Melbourne’s Whig party lost around 70 seats and their majority in the House of Commons, and while Melbourne remained Prime Minister he lost another vote of no confidence in August and subsequently resigned.
Tl;dr – Melbourne basically lost the confidence of both MPs and the general population. Interestingly however, the TV series seems to be playing out his final months in office offscreen, with Lord Melbourne still the Prime Minister by the end of the series but described as “governing the country from Brocket Hall” (his home) and Sir Robert Peel’s (Nigel Lindsay) Tories picking up the slack. In real life, Melbourne continued to meet Victoria during this period.
However, there is a behind-the-scenes explanation for this confusion – according to Victoria writer Daisy Goodwin in a special RadioTimes.com Q&A, the historical discrepancy is due to the fact that Sewell had to leave the series to resume his work on Amazon Prime series The Man in the High Castle, where he plays a Nazi officer.
I saw them together I suspected it would work. If i had my way Lord M would be in every ep, but he had to go back and put on his SS uniform https://t.co/SIoDP6fNXC
— Radio Times (@RadioTimes) October 6, 2016
And in any case, she has a few ideas for what the character’s been up to in episodes 6-8…
He is working on his book about St. Chyrsostom, doing some rook fancying, and thinking about a certain Queen of diminutive stature https://t.co/yfI8ySfVLi
— Radio Times (@RadioTimes) October 6, 2016
Who was the next Prime Minister?
After Melbourne’s resignation Queen Victoria invited Sir Robert Peel (played by Nigel Lindsay in the ITV series, above) to form a Tory government. Peel (who had briefly been Prime Minister for four months in 1834-5) is generally remembered for founding the modern police force during an earlier stint as Home Secretary, but will also be remembered by Victoria’s viewers as the man intended to replace Melbourne in episode 2 before the Bedchamber Crisis led Lord M to stick around instead.
In recent episodes of Victoria Peel has really come to the fore, so we’re betting he’ll be in the top job sometime early in series two.
What happened to Lord Melbourne afterwards?
After Melbourne resigned in 1841 he and Victoria kept up a correspondence, but eventually the letters were deemed inappropriate and contact died away. Many historians believe that the end of his and Victoria’s friendship upset Melbourne, who is said to have seemingly aged rapidly over the ensuing years before his death in 1848, seven years after his resignation.
After his death Melbourne’s titles were passed to his brother Frederick, as both his children had predeceased him.
Victoria will return for a second series in 2017