For more than six decades, Queen Victoria ruled a great empire at the height of its power. Beside her for more than twenty of those years was the love of her life, her trusted husband and father of their nine children, Prince Albert. But while Victoria is seen as the embodiment of her time, it was Prince Albert who was at the vanguard of Victorian Britain’s transformation as a vibrant and extraordinary center of political, technological, scientific, and intellectual advancement.
... engrossing ... Mr. Wilson makes good use of documents from the period and has consulted experts, particularly on details having to do with Albert’s German background. His most striking contribution, though, is a psychologically astute approach to Victoria and Albert, one that results in a persuasive and humane account of their marriage.
Wilson wastes no time in putting us straight on any lingering illusions we might have. While admiring of Albert’s many gifts, he is uncompromising in laying bare the prince’s emotional shortcomings ... Wilson is particularly perceptive in his analysis of the complicated and often tormented relationship at the heart of the book: the ‘psychodrama’ of Albert’s marriage to Queen Victoria ... While Wilson is uncompromising in his assessment of Victoria’s high-voltage, high-maintenance personality, he also shows how Albert’s admonitory, censorious letters to her about her ‘bad’ behaviour were cold and often extremely manipulative ... One reaches the end of this incisive and entertaining study with an overwhelming feeling of sadness.
... generously detailed ... brings long-overdue recognition to a complex, brilliant and even tragic figure in history ... Drawing on a vast array of personal correspondence and royal archival documents not previously available, Wilson offers a thorough, deeply engaged and often surprising portrayal of a brilliant yet practical idealist who literally created an indispensable and unprecedented role for himself unlike anything in the history of reigning British monarchs ... Wilson doesn’t simply weave a plethora of exacting data into the fabric of his life. What gives this biography an ever-changing and magnetic texture are the numerous contextual details and commentaries he inserts that give Albert’s story an unusual range of feeling and aesthetic substance ... For anyone enthralled by 19th-century history, Prince Albert is a must-read --- not just once, but at least twice, to savor the full range of Wilson’s abundant research and enticing prose.