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Victoria Takes A Vacation To The Scottish Highlands: We Recap Season 2 Episode 5 Of “Victoria”

When the Royal Court, dressers, and ladies’ maids go on vacation, they’re expected to enjoy themselves, meet the locals, and take part in events and activities set in place to honor their visit. They’re not expected to lose the Queen and Prince Consort.

But the respite up north was precisely what Victoria and Albert needed to relax, repair their relationship, and more importantly, create the foundation for a lifelong love Queen Victoria had for Scotland. Without her fascination of the country, the purchase of Balmoral Castle for royal use may never have happened. And we wouldn’t have gotten an episode full of rich, green hills, fly fishing, reels, and staying overnight in a cottage.

Victoria Albert Scotland Tom Hughes Jenna Coleman

But let’s remember why Victoria chose to run away to Scotland in the first place. After yet another assassination attempt, Victoria feels trapped in the palace and would prefer to leave London as opposed to remaining indoors (though she, and all of us, were particularly touched when Albert presented her with a beautiful yet practical gift: an armored parasol in her favorite color, purple!). After confiding that she always dreamed of running away to Scotland, Victoria’s childhood wish is fulfilled when the Royal Court, dressers, and ladies’ maids (an adventure Mrs. Skerritt, but Mr. Francatelli remained in London) journey to the Scottish Highlands. They convene at Blair Castle in Perthshire, a location where the real Queen Victoria did stay when visiting Scotland with Albert and Princess Victoria in 1844.

The beginning of the trip proves rather dull for Victoria and most of her party, with a live rendition of “The Heliotrope” by Dr. William Beattie (when the Duchess of Buccleuch is asleep, you know it’s terrible) and indoor bagpipes. In contrast, the downstairs staff are welcomed with a traditional cèilidh featuring traditional Scottish reels, something Mrs. Skerritt is happy to try.


Nell Hudson Mrs. Skerritt Victoria Scotland
Mrs. Skerritt (Nell Hudson) learns a new dance on "Victoria"

But the real “fun” of the trip arrives as Victoria and her party journey into the countryside for a day. After an attempt at flyfishing (and quick glances between Ernest and Harriet, the latter still in mourning), Victoria and Albert ride ahead of the group and find themselves lost, Albert exhibiting a trope for male characters who refuse to ask for directions. The two are both apprehensive about finding their way back home but perhaps aren’t as frantic as we’d expect, as Victoria quite literally lets her hair down while they enjoy each other’s company. They stumble upon a cottage owned by two Highlanders, neither of whom recognize their Queen as they welcome them into their home, share their meal, and participate in friendly conversation. It’s the first time in the entire run of Victoria that Victoria and Albert are regarded without titles or royal responsibilities, leaving them able to joke with one another (who else snickered at the mention of Victoria’s “factory”?). While Victoria learns to darn a sock and Albert learns how to stoke a fire, the couple begins to recognize not only the beauty of the country they’re so conveniently lost in but the beauty of love: the love they share and the love they observe between the highlander couple whose cottage they’ve taken refuge in.

The dream is short-lived, as Victoria and Albert are found the next morning by frantic guards. But their demeanor has changed once they’re whisked back to the castle, and instead of finding the amusements of Scotland to be less-than fascinating, we see Victoria embrace the country wholeheartedly.

Victoria Albert Tom Hughes Jenna Coleman Scotland Castle
Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Albert (Tom Hughes) relax with each other near the castle

But not everyone is ready for a royal celebration. While the servants sneak away for another rowdy party, Lord Alfred and Mr. Drummond choose to join them. But their mutual interest in one another keep them from ever arriving at the gathering, and instead they share a tender moment as they admit their affections with a kiss. The taboo declaration of love doesn’t go unseen, as the hidden (and heartbroken) Wilhelmina Coke sets up the romantic tension for the next episode.

A new episode of Victoria airs Sunday, February 18th at 9 p.m.

Rachel Buchman Guest Blogger

Rachel Buchman serves as the Social Media Community Manager at GPB. She earned her degree in English Language and Literature from The University of Chicago and has been contributing to GPB’s social media platforms since 2016. She is an avid... more