‘I will be good,’ Princess Victoria said on discovering she would be Queen. But, as things turned out, it was a touch more complicated. This sumptuous film has no interest in the ‘good’ dumpy adult Victoria, instead giving us a bildungsroman: after a stifling childhood, Victoria (Emily Blunt, above) must find maturity and independence – not easy with a controlling mother (Miranda Richardson), two scheming uncles and a snake-like prime minister (Paul Bettany). As in any traditional romance (and this, written by Julian Fellowes, is so trad its corsets creak), there are blips and the odd tear en route to a prince. That the prince, in this case, is Albert (Rupert Friend), her mother’s choice, just delays the inevitable.
Dignified and charismatic, Blunt gives great lip-wobble, and Friend pulls off the role of sidekick, but historical twiddling can’t render Victoria’s love life interesting and the only moving moment is the epilogue: 20 years’ happy marriage is more than most of us get, but 40 years of sorrowful widowhood is tragedy indeed.