Radio Times ★★★★
The i. Newspaper “Immaculately recreated”
The Observer, Pick of the Day “Privileged access, boasting Grand Design style 3D imagery”
Trevor McDonald and Julie Etchingham discover how Queen Victoria transformed Buckingham Palace from an unloved, unfinished and unfurnished building into the home of Monarchy.
With extensive access to Buckingham Palace - including spaces such as the Palace kitchens that the public doesn’t normally get to see – Trevor and Julie uncover how this royal residence was dramatically redesigned by Victoria and Prince Albert, revealing how their innovations are still used by the Royal Family today.
Victoria turned Buckingham Palace into one of the most famous buildings in the world, and the Palace has been shaped by her passions. She loved to dance and Julie learns how she and Albert created Buckingham Palace’s enormous Ballroom, decorating it in a riot of colour. She was also a Queen who believed in large-scale dining and Trevor discovers that the current Palace kitchens were built by Victoria to replace an earlier kitchen on top of a sewer! A new Palace wing was built to house Victoria and Albert’s growing family. The film also offers insight into Buckingham Palace’s famous balcony - a deceptively simple idea that permanently changed the way the Royal Family are seen on days of national celebrations.
Historians Dr Amanda Foreman and Dr Annie Gray and Royal Collection curators guide Trevor and Julie around the most important spaces, which are brought back to life with breath-taking visual effects. But there are also personal revelations as well. At Kensington Palace, Julie learns how Victoria was shaped by her isolated childhood, while Victoria’s own drawings, letters, childhood dolls and fancy-dress ballgowns (preserved in the Royal Collection) provide insights into her different roles as monarch, diplomat, wife, and mother.
The programme also tells viewers that when Prince Albert died in 1861, Buckingham Palace went into hibernation as Victoria retreated from public life. But her gradual re-engagement towards the end of her reign led to the Palace’s rejuvenation – with the building playing a pivotal role in Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations in 1887 and 1897, cementing its position as an emblem of the British Monarchy.