GUIOL Alexia




Sujet : la représentation de la reine Victoria dans le film Les Jeunes années d’une reine.


Queen Victoria is the most famous Queen of England in the eyes of many Europeans. Her reign was marked by the expansion of the British Empire, the Industrial Revolution and also quite a huge amount of social tensions. She became Empress of India in 1876 and reigned until 1907. That is why her story was turned into a movie script by directors who were not English, as for the movie ‘Victoria in Dover’ (original title ‘Mädchenjahre einer Königin’), directed by René Chateau. The first part is interpreted by Romy Schneider. Most of the scenes take place in 1837 in a castle where Victoria lived, until she became Queen, and the story is focused on the beginning of her reign, from the instant she understands she will be a Queen until her engagement. Of course, this story is partly a romance but there are also a few things inspired from reality, such as her family: her mother, the Duchess of Kent, her uncle Leopold, the King of Belgium, and Albert, her cousin and her future husband. We can see politicians too: Lord Melbourne, Prime Minister, Sir Conroy, and Victoria’s teachers, Baroness Lehzen and Reverend Davys. We chose to focus on two peculiar aspects of the movie: Victoria’s education and her relationships with the other people.


The story begins. She is following a lecture with her history teacher who depicts England as a rich and prosperous country, and that culture is important over there for wealthy people. Her teacher praises the Hanover dynasty. Moreover, Victoria must know all the reign of her predecessors since their accessions to the Crown, for examples: Edward VIth, who instituted the Anglican religion as state religion (in the movie), and Mary the Catholic who wanted to reestablish Catholicism. She must also learn music and how to stand and behave with an Italian teacher, Taglione. In the movie, the scene is turned into ridicule: Victoria’s moves are overacted. She makes fun of her teacher. Apparently, Victoria is forced into a certain level of ignorance. We learn that her country is prosperous and all the people can eat as they wish. While in reality, lots of working class people have a poor standard of living owing to the Industrial Revolution. When she became Queen, at the death of Guillaume IVth, she tried to know the truth about people by buying newspapers. She is naïve but curious, and she wants to alleviate people’s sufferings in times of famine and poverty. 


In the movie, we can see the interactions between Victoria and other people. The most important of them are Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, her teacher, the woman pictured as her best friend, Baroness Lehzen, and, of course, her future husband, Prince Albert. There is also the weird relationship with her mother. The latter seems to covet power and tries to influence Victoria by keeping a tight and constant control upon her. But Victoria has a strong personality and she tries to resist. A powerful link is pictured on screen between the Queen and Baroness Lehzen, who seems to be a real motherly figure to her. The fact that the real mother of Romy Schneider is playing the Baroness reinforces this feeling. At the same time, the fatherly figure seems to be Lord Melbourne, who teaches the young Queen how to be a great and famous monarch. But in fact, Lord Melbourne’s role was more important than shown on the screen.

One other highly important character in the film is Prince Albert. The encounter between him and the Queen, which was originally arranged by Lord Melbourne, takes place in a tavern in Dover. The two young people do not want an arranged wedding and fall in love, knowing little of each other’s personality. This part, even if it was rearranged for the needs of the romance story – the first meeting between Victoria and Albert did not actually take place in Dover after Victoria became Queen, but two years before – is inspired by the mythic love story of the couple, who will have nine children.


The film is a romance fiction based on real facts, and real characters. But it reflects the vision of Victoria’s legend, the story of a young girl who falls in love with a prince and who became the most famous and powerful Queen of England. The Parliament, the Industrial Revolution and poverty are simply overlooked, and the colonies are only just mentioned. This story was remade in 2009 and the question is: did the vision of the Queen (or the society) change within 60 years or so?







The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the first international Exhibition ever held. The Exhibition was housed in The Crystal Palace, an architectural marvel and a huge engineering triumph which contributed to the importance of the Great Exhibition. It was designed by Joseph Paxton.

The massive glass house was 1848 feet (about 563 metres) long by 454 feet (about 138 metres) wide. The elements were prefabricated; the glass sheets were produced in Birmingham and then shipped to London. The setting of this Exhibition was in a beautiful park called Hyde Park, which still exists today. The Crystal Palace was planned and built in 9 months but no longer exists today.


The aim of the Great Exhibition was to be a showcase showing the world’s finest manufactured goods. The exhibition was divided into four categories: raw materials, machinery, manufactures and fine arts.

This Exhibition was organized by the Queen of England’s husband, Prince Albert, who was at that time resented by a part of the British population as he was a foreigner. He wanted to show the world how Great Britain had progressed in modern technology and design. This was a daring endeavor on behalf of Great Britain, never before had a country organized such a large fair. Some critics feared the fair might cause riots or anger God or even that foreign visitors might bring strange diseases to London but, in fact, it was a great success and over 6 million people visited the exhibition between 1st May and 11 October 1851.

The exhibits came not only from Britain, but also from its expanding imperial colonies, such as Australia, India and New Zealand, and foreign countries, such as Denmark, France and Switzerland. A total of 13,000 exhibits were shown and the public could marvel at the Jacquard loom, an envelope machine, tools, kitchen appliances and it was here the British population first got to taste the famous jelly and ice-cream. The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Science Museum and The Natural History Museum were built with the money from this Exhibition and with the extra money they created a grant system to provide scholarships for industrial research which continues today.


In 1851 Great Britain was without doubt the leader of the industrial revolution and hence the country felt confident in organizing this Exhibition. The exhibition was intended to raise the level of industrial design and of course to display and acquire new and larger markets worldwide. The Great Exhibition was meant to enable countries all over the world to display their inventions and achievements but in this exhibition Great Britain proved to be a world leader in every field whether it was in iron, steel or textiles.

In this exhibition Great Britain made it clear to the rest of the world that it was an industrial leader. The Great Exhibition was also a message to everyone that modern technology was the key to a better future.


DAVIN Juliette




                The opening of the Great Exhibition was also the opening of the golden age of Victorianism.

In fact during the Victorian period, England had known several changes; to describe the times they were living, Prince Albert said : « a period of most wonderful transition ».

The background of the mid-Victoiran period was a growing material prosperity and a level of industrial production and foreign trade which set England far ahead of all other countries. In 1850’s, thanks to several years of peace, England saw the building of railways and centers. Moreover, the country became the first colonial power in the world, extending trade with its colonies.

In the mid-XIXth century, only the industrialists and traders attached importance to the Empire because of the goods produced there.

Only the Crown decided to organize the propaganda for the English Empire in order to show the greatness of the Empire to the English population and to the rest of the world. To do so, it was decided that an exhibition, based on the model of the Universal Exhibition organized in Paris in 1849, was set up. Those exhibitions played a crucial role in the imperial propaganda. The 1851 Great Exhibition was the first and the most wonderful example. Henry Cole launched the idea of a national exhibition of works and industry. The project was accepted by Prince Albert Consort, who was the president of the Royal Society of Arts and who spearheaded the project. The exhibition was housed in the Crystal Palace : a magnificent example of functional architecture which looked like a gigantic glass house (1,848 feet long, 408 feet wide and 100 feet high). The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations was inaugurated on Ist May 1851 by Queen Victoria herself. The morning of its opening was described by the Times as « the first morning since the creation of the world that all peoples have assembled from all parts of the world and done a common act ». The official aim and theme of the Great Exhibition was to bring together different countries, all around the world, including English colonies, in order to participate in a friendly contest concerning trade and industry.

                Nevertheless, the organization of the Great Exhibition had to match several objectives.

Firstable, it was the reflection of the Crown’s will to celebrate its own model and successful outcome. Initially they wanted to show their industrial success, which was represented by the Crystal Palace. This huge iron building, with over a million feet of glass, was designed in only ten days and built in nine months. It was the symbol of the wonderful advance of England over the other countries in the industrial and technological fields. What is more, inventions and goods produced by England and its Empire were widely favoured. Indeed they represented more than half the displays. The rest was unequally shared between the other countries. The Great Exbition was also a celebration of free trade, of which Great Britain was the leader. Only merchant goods were shown. The friendly competition became a real economic one. The British also felt that it was important to show their achievements right alongside those of « less civilized » countries. They wanted to bring up the rest of the world and showed that their own model was the best. Another goal of the Great Exhibition was to show the world the imperial greatness of England and extend this to the English people. Indeed, England was the master piece of the Great Exhibition. Privileging goods over culture, the Crown would show the English people all the material wealth that the Empire could bring them.

                As a conclusion, we may say that England became the greatest power in the world with a thriving industry and vast colonial empire  « on which the sun never set ». Unfortunately, the Great Exhibition was criticized. For example, in « the Great Job of 1851 » we can see some elements showing that the Great Exhibition was not as important as we said. In fact the anonymous author of this anti-exhibition broadsheet addresses his « Fellow Countrymen » to keep them away from the « great plan » of 1851.


Bibliographie et sitographie :

Le monde britannique 1815-(1914)-1931, Michel RAPOPORT et Sylvie APRILE, Collection Clefs concours histoire contemporaine

Civilisation britannique au XIXe, Laurent BURY, Anglais civilisation, Hachette supérieur, Paris, 2001

L’Angleterre Victorienne, documents de civilisation britannique du XIXe siècle, Alain JUMEAU, Perspectives anglo-saxonnes, PUF, Paris, 2001

England in the Nineteenth Century 1815-1914, David THOMSON, the Pelican History of England, Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1950


– URL : http://spencer.lib.ku.edu/exhibits/greatexhibition/contents.htm

exhibition curated by james helyar
website design by sarah goodwin thiel

the kenneth spencer research library, university of kansas


– URL : http://www.victorianstation.com/palace.html, Victorian Station



Hote Clio

Bouchelta Fanny






The nineteenth century saw the peak of the British Empire and its powerfulness. To celebrate this peak, on the first of May 1851, the Great Exhibition of the Work of Industry of all Nation, which combined for the first time in the same place the industrial, home-made productions and raw materials, was inaugurated.

Great Britain showed its economic superiority on the other nations. One of the reasons for this economic boom is the industrialization which started under the reign of Elizabeth Ist. Indeed, between 1831 and 1850, we observe the victory of the factory system in the textile and metallurgical industries. Factories increasingly replaced the workshops. The construction of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park to welcome the Great Exhibition provides a good illustration of this.  Built in seven months, this innovating building could even shelter a bunch of trees. The exhibition was organized in four categories: raw materials, machines, manufacturing products and works of art. To glorify Great Britain, the English half of the building contains various examples of industrial products like locomotives, vehicles, ironwork stalls and machines which attracted many visitors. Through the numerous displays of the English section, England wanted to show its superiority over the other nations.

Indeed, this industrial prosperity was possible thanks to the colonies of England. First, Britannia included forty peoples. According to many historians, it is obvious that this exhibition aimed at showing England’s supremacy. The crown was able to use the resources of her colonies to operate her machines.  The Prince Consort delivered a speech in which he explained that: “The products of all quarters of the globe are placed at our disposal and we have only to choose which is the best and cheapest for our purposes. » The raw materials abounded in the English Empire and it is known that there was a specific part devoted to it in the Crystal Palace. The Great Exhibition showed the England system as generating civilization and progress. It told a success story. The production was based on a specific work organisation : the division of labour including within the Empire. Each country or colony had its own function depending on its energies, resources, and labour costs,… The construction of the Crystal Palace was a good instance of the success of this organization. We can quote again Prince Albert: “The great principle of division of labour, […]  moving power of civilisation, is being extended to all branches of science, industry and art, […] the powers of production are intrusted to the stimulus of competition and capital.» This repartition corresponds to an ideal too. Throughout this political and economic pattern, the crown thought about blending the nations. Thanks to trade and free-trade, wars could be eradicated. But this conception was based on the belief in England’s superiority, as a pattern for all, bringing civilization. The fountain in the middle of Palace is the symbol of this border between English world and the rest of universe.

The Great Exhibition welcomed six millions visitors. With roughly one million articles on display in this gigantic shop window, the exhibition made London the focus of the world. It illustrated England’s supremacy in the world as a commercial power.



  • British Imperialism- Innovation and Expansion 1688-1914, P. J. Cain, A.G. Hopkins
  • Civilisation Britannique au XIXe siècle, L. Bury, Hachette HU Anglais Civilisation, Chap 3
  • La Révolution Industrielle en Grande-Bretagne, Roland Marx
  • Londres victorien, un monde cloisonné, J-P. Navailles, Epoque Champ Vallon
  • Prince Albert’s speech