Love stories have always fascinated audiences, perhaps because love is what governs us all. It is love that makes us act in certain ways, love that compels our kindness for one another, even love that transforms into salvation. It is a universal thing all of us can understand, for we have all experienced it in some form, whether in the arms of a partner or the simple embrace of a child. But when you put love with royalty, it becomes extraordinary, perhaps because in so many cases, love was not a requirement for the union. History is rampant with the bodies and souls of those who married without love, for political purpose and power, and whose empty, heart-wrenching lives are a testament to broken dreams. But on occasion, there were royal love stories, and perhaps one of the most moving among them was between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Young Victoria is an exquisite film that is not centered around love so much as uses it for a ballast as the storms of politics are weathered through with determined indifference. But in the end it is not the riots outside the palace, or the moments of uncertainty the young monarch faces that the audience remembers. No, not at all, for we are romantics, you see. What we remember is Albert and Victoria. Victoria and Albert. The letters that passed between them. Those instances in which she marveled at his touch, at the fact that he learned to waltz just for her, when her eye lingers on him over a chess board. Him pacing and tearing up pages as he attempts to write what is in his heart. When she nervously asks him (for the Queen alone can ask!) if he will be her life’s companion and her husband.
I remember watching Victoria &; Albert for the first time years ago and crying profusely over it, so much so that I have not watched it more than a handful of times since. Knowing a story is true makes it more real to me, easier for me to become lost in its emotions, in the sadness of situations, in the fact that Albert died in his early forties and left his beloved Victoria behind. I wondered with trepidation how far this film would go, if I would be left once more in a muddle of tears… but this time we did not experience his death, but departed from them in the vibrancy of young married life, with so much promise and happiness ahead of them that it softened the quiet pronouncement at the end of his eventual death. But yes, when I saw Victoria laying out his clothes, and learned that she had it done every morning for the rest of her life in memory of him, a lump grew in my throat.
What is it about love that makes us so fond of it, crave it so much, spend all our lives searching for it in the faces of our companions? It is more than loneliness, a spiritual yearning that drives all of us to hope that one day we might find someone to share our souls with. There are so many different kinds of love and sometimes it is easy to confuse one emotion for another, to mistake fondness for something else, or to intensify affection. I think what touches me so much about this representation of their lives is that it allows us to believe in their love, for it was not of physical desire so much as a melding of souls in the expectation each week of a letter. It was a romance that originated on the page as much as in their faces on their first meeting, something that allowed them to come to know one another over many months of correspondence, to share their innermost thoughts.
I think we all yearn for a soul mate. Some of us are fortunate enough to find one. But even our most devoted love cannot compare to the love our Heavenly Father has for us. Perhaps the gift of love in our lives is merely a reminder of the greatness of perfection, a mere glimpse into an eternity of unfathomable wonders.