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  • In making a modish feminist account of notable British women in (then) unconventional relationships with men a glib and single-sided account is given of Victoria's marriage.

    The sole emphasis was on Victoria's sexual needs following the death of Albert leading to the glib and not intelligent characterisation of her reaction as an "ecstacy of grief". Of their erotic happiness there is little doubt however this was not the only or perhaps the greatest of her losses. Unlike the other women discussed, Victoria had the burden of being head of state. Not as now but then of a vast empire. Albert was considerably more gifted intellectually than was she and took a major but unseen (to the public) role in questioning the government's actions in foreign affairs (her diaries were published in 1910 which made an open book of this aspect of their life together). Albert thus took the burden from Victoria and acted as her mentor. With his death this immense burden fell on her shoulders. Before marriage she had had the advice of Lord Melbourne. After Albert's death she was entirely alone. There is a belittling tone in Stanley Weintraub's book on Victoria (Weintraub appears as the expert on Victoria) which does not communicate how immense the responsibilities of a British Monarch must have appeared to the incumbent. If there was a certain amount of smoke and mirrors to monarchy then there was also mighty substance. Victoria's losses could hardly have been deeper - the loss of a sexual partner, father to her children, love of her life, and carrier of the immense burden of being head of state. She had by that time lost her earlier confidants and there was no one she could turn to for support.

    Her awful grief and isolation was well captured in the film Mrs Brown. She had every reason to grieve.