Monday, May 24, 2010

All Hail the Queen

Magnet # 250: Canadian Mountie

Material: Resin

Purchased By: Mom & Dad

Up in Canada, they're celebrating Victoria Day, a federal holiday held in honor of Queen Victoria' birthday.This observance was created before Canada even became a nation. At first, it fell on her actual date of birth, but over time, it has shifted dates. After Victoria's death, Victoria Day became Empire Day and as the monarchs of England changed, the date on which their birthday was celebrated moved around the calendar. But eventually, Empire Day transformed to Commonwealth Day and was moved to March. After that, Victoria Day returned on the first Monday on or before May 24. Of course, that means this year the holiday actually falls on the anniversary of Victoria's birthday on May 24 in 1819. It's almost been two centuries since then, but clearly Britain's longest reigning monarch is still beloved in the modern world.

While I an definitely a fan of Victoria's, I have to admit, I prefer Elizabeth I. Maybe it's her refusal to marry, or the fact that she actually controlled the power in her country during her time - or it might just be our mutual name. But if I could visit any period in history, it would absolutely be the Victorian Era. The art that was produced then is my favorite and Victoria and Albert really encouraged the arts, becoming patrons and helping contribute to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the largest collection of decorative arts and design in the entire world. And Victoria was the first ruler to ever grant a peerage to a painter - Lord Leighton, my absolute favorite artist, so she helped elevate the status of artists to a new level. I enjoy watching movies about her life, even if they aren't exactly documentaries. There are several films that deal with Victoria's life that I definitely recommend if you'd like to get a better feel for the monarch. The first is The Young Victoria, which was finally released last year and won an Academy Award for Costume Design. It started shooting in 2007, and I anxiously awaited its delayed release. It's a very impressive film, with a nice budget, so it really has great clothing and scenery. Unfortunately, it's hardly historically accurate. Its most notable departure was when they showed Albert being grazed by a bullet during an assassination attempt on Victoria. While she really was shot at, he was not injured. A more faithful dramatization of the couple's life was presented in the 2001 BBC serial Victoria and Albert. Though it doesn't have the hefty budget of The Young Victoria, it does stick closer to the facts. And, at 200 minutes, it packs much more in than the later film's 105. Really, it feels like her life is barely getting started in that one, compared to seeing their children grow and Victoria deal with Albert's young death in the previous serial. And supporting characters that are almost overlooked in The Young Victoria are much more developed in Victoria and Albert. It's interesting to compare the two films' take on the romance between the pair, as they vary. Victoria and Albert portrays her as being completely smitten with him from their second meeting on, but while he cares for her, Albert is slow to love Victoria. And The Young Victoria shows the two slowly growing to love one another. But the final film about Victoria's like leave out Albert entirely - Mrs. Brown. This deals with the later years of her life, after her husband had passed away. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with a slightly coarse Scottish servant who had been close with Albert, John Brown. Brown is summoned to help her through her her grief. Some felt he was too good at his task, and the two may have engaged in an improper relationship. But he helps her return to a public life, and because of that, the monarchy is once again embraced by the public. Brown also saves Victoria from another assassination attempt. But when he dies, his diary was taken away and never seen again. The real extent of the relationship between Victoria and Brown has never been known, but I prefer to give her majesty the benefit of the doubt. And when you combine all three of these films, it's interesting to see the portrait they portray of this beloved monarch.

Today, there will be fireworks and parades in Canada, both to celebrate Victoria's birth and life and the beginning of Spring. While she may not have been one of the most powerful rulers in British history, she lived during one of its most prosperous times when it expanded all across the globe. And the images of this sweet young bride, productive mother, determined monarch, and heartbroken widow have captured the attention of generations of followers around the world, and have kept Victoria almost as beloved by the public as she was during her own time.


  1. This one is really cute. Love it!

  2. Me too. My Mom was already in line at a souvenir shop when she spotted it, so she actually left and came back just to get it. I'm so glad she did!