Remembering Prince Albert in the 21st Century: Cinematographic Portrayals of the Prince Consort in Times of Brexit

22. February 2024 19:00

Christin Neubauer

With the launch of the series Victoria in 2016, the British television channel ITV brought the royal couple back to public memory through a Neo-Victorian interpretation of Victoria and Albert that focuses on youth and progressiveness in order to address a young audience. Considering the role of Prince Albert, played by Tom Hughes, the series emphasises his German roots and addresses German stereotypes to illustrate the xenophobic sentiment of the mid-19th century that the Prince Consort faced. I argue that his cinematographic representation conceives a favourable and progressive image of the Prince Consort and thus has a positive impact on Prince Albert’s perception and remembrance today. In this presentation, I explore the construction of Germanness in the depiction of the Prince Consort in the series. Considering the use of costumes, locations, languages and attitudes of the character, art-historical and cinematographic analyses reveal how the creator and producer Daisy Goodwin uses the female gaze to depict Albert as a mysterious, honest and engaging suitor from Coburg and how the series relates to stereotypes and imagery of Victorian times in the construction of the character. By emphasising Prince Albert’s Germanness alongside his significant impact on British society, culture, and progress, I argue that the widespread success of the series shows a consolidating perspective on the rift within Anglo-German relations in the time of Brexit, as these aspects draw attention to the nations’ shared heritage and portray the Prince as a positive contributor to Britain’s growth under continental influence.

Christin Neubauer is a research assistant and PhD student within the research group ‘European Romanticism’ and the research training group ‘The Romantic Model’ at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany. She received her MAs in History of British Art from the University of York and in History of Art and Film Studies from the University of Jena. Her research interests focus on nineteenth-century British art, particularly the art of the Pre-Raphaelites. In addition, she examines transnational receptions and issues in reception aesthetics. Her publications include a paper on the construction and perception of rhythm in Heinrich Vogeler’s book illustrations and an essay concerning the New Woman Question in the art of Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale. She co-organised the international conference Reflections on European Romanticism(s) in the Visual Arts held in Jena in 2022 and initiated and co-organised two postgraduate workshops on the topic of Rethinking British and European Romanticisms in Transnational Perspectives as a first-time collaboration between the University of York and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

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