We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals - Gillian Gill One of the real pleasures in reading history is the speculation that comes with hindsight, but we must also be careful not to impose that hindsight on the motives of historical figures and end up judging them by our standards rather than those of their native time and place.Gillian Gill's finds an excellent and entertaining balance between the two in her biography of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.The term Victorian has come to be synonymous with repression and anti-feminism, but Gill's says casually in her biography, a better term might be Albertian, as it was his discomfort with being placed second to Victoria that set the example for the rest of England.Of course this is where we have to be careful of our hindsight and remember Albert's time and place.  After all, when a man is raised to believe his is superior to all around him, then set into a situation where he is head of his family but his wife is head of the nation, one doesn't wonder he does his best to change the latter.This is definitely a dual biography, which is a tricky thing to do. Luckily for Gill, Victoria and Albert married relatively early in their lives and so a quick alternating chapter on Victoria and Albert in their respective youths is enough to bring the timelines together.That said, the narrative following the opening chapters does seem to focus slightly on Albert, though reading of all his accomplishments, one does not blame Gill very much. Albert, whatever his flaws, did accomplish a great deal in his shot life, the most famous and ostentatious being the Great Exhibition of 1851. Many quieter accomplishments lead Gill to surmise that, had Albert not succumbed to typhoid and lived only a few years more, his statesmanship might have stopped some of the key events that later led to the First World War.An entertaining read, especially when compared to the recent film, The Young Victoria which romanticizes Albert nearly as much as Victoria herself did in the later part of her life.This review also appears at Boxes of Paper