Did Queen Victoria get lost in Scotland? The real history of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's royal visit

Series Two of popular TV show ‘Victoria’ shows Queen Victoria and Prince Albert getting lost in Scotland and taking shelter in a Highland cottage. But what is fact and what is fiction?

Queen Victoria and servant John Brown at Balmoral. Picture: Getty
Queen Victoria and servant John Brown at Balmoral. Picture: Getty

The popular historical television drama, which originally aired in 2016 and has run for three series, has left many UK viewers asking how much is fact – and how much is fiction – about Queen Victoria’s visit to Scotland

Series Two, Episode Seven - which is titled ‘The King Over the Water’ - sees Queen Victoria, portrayed by the popular Jenna Coleman in the lead role, head to the Scottish Highlands after a series of assassination attempts in London.

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That is just the beginning of the dramatic events which unfold for the Queen throughout the episode.

A portrait of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) c1890. Picture: PA
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However, with viewers currently re-watching series two via ITV Hub, the episode has left many questioning what the real history of Victoria’s visit to Scotland was.

Did Queen Victoria visit Scotland?

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Yes. 100% true. Queen Victoria visited Scotland many times.

Queen Victoria made her first royal visit to Scotland just five years after taking the throne, touring the country in 1842 with Prince Albert by her side. The couple spent several days in Edinburgh, writing in her journal that the road into Leith ‘quite enchanting’.

Her second visit came in 1844, when she returned with her husband and daughter Vicky to visit Blair Castle in Perthside for a total of three weeks.

The TV show actually filmed episode seven of the show at Blair Castle.

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She had written in her journal, following a visit to the ‘beautiful Highlands’, she had ‘become so fond’ of the sound of bagpipes.

The Queen subsequently made several visits to Scotland here after, even building a castle of their own after taking possession of Balmoral in 1848.

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Did Victoria and Albert get lost in the Scottish Highlands?

In the episode, the Queen and her husband are shown getting lost in a forest alone in the Scottish Highlands, with Prince Albert on horseback.

Later in the episode, Her Majesty is forced to seek help and shelter from a poor Scottish couple, who cook fish for her and her husband on an open fire and the Royal couple spent the night.

She hides her identity in the episode and learns how to ‘darn a sock’ like a regular citizen.

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But how much is fact, and how much is dramatised fantasy?

Well, first and foremost, it is well documented that Victoria was keen on recording her trips to Scotland, as shown by the series of journals entries which is accessible to this day.

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She would document what each day entailed, what activities the couple got up to throughout their day and, sometimes, even draw the people that she would meet.

Despite this, there is no mention in any of her diary entries about getting lost in a forest with Albert, nor taking shelter in a hut with a poor Scottish couple.

However, Victoria does make mention of a visit to a ‘cottage’, though it is safe to say it was certainly not a poor man’s hut, as she mentions several paintings on the wall of the cottage from painters such as Sir Edwin Henry Landsee.

There is also a mention of a pony ride accompanied by only one servant and another entry of the Queen becoming concerned about the oncoming nightfall during another ride, though she writes that they did make it home, adding it was ‘a long day indeed, but one which I shall not easily forget.’

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