10 Quick Facts About Victoria's Vile Viscount PalmerstonWith only three episodes down, Season 3 of Victoria has already turned the monarchy on its head, with chartist protests and the birth of yet another tiny monarch. Not only has this season dropped us into a volatile time in England, it has also introduced a number of new characters – most of whom tend to stare into the middle distance most disconcertingly.
None seem quite as suspicious or unscrupulous as the Lord Palmerston, the supercilious Secretary of Foreign Affairs. When he’s not walking around smirking at our favorite queen, or leering at her ladies in waiting, he’s planting guns (!!!) in the Chartist headquarters (!!!).
What a creep!
But who was this loathsome lothario in real life? We jumped in the official WGBH time machine (Ahem – the internet) to see if we could find out a little more… without spoilers, of course. So here it is – 10 facts about the IRL Lord Palmerston.
1. Palmerston spoke Italian from an early age — Born Henry John Temple, Palmerston lived a #blessed early life, the eldest son of a Peer of Ireland. Touring Europe for — get this — two years with his family from ages 8 to 10, it was during this trip that he learned Italian from a private tutor.
2. He was a fighter, not a lover — Henry was notorious for getting into fights in school – but he preferred to take on taller and stronger bullies, rather than punching down.
3. He was the third Viscount Palmerston — In 1802, Henry’s father passed away, making him the 3rd Viscount of Palmerston at the tender age of 17.
4. Palmerston started his role in Parliament as a Tory — While we meet Palmerston as a Whig Foreign Secretary, he first started his work in Parliament as a 23-year-old Tory MP for Newport on the Isle of Wight.
5. He served as the secretary of war for 20 years — In 1809, Spencer Perceval, Prime Minister to King George IV, appointed Palmerston as Secretary of War, a role that oversaw the financial business of the army.
6. Palmerston was once shot by a protester — Halfway through his time in the War Office, Palmerston was shot by a retired officer, Lieutenant Davies, who had a grievance with his pension. But when Palmerston found out that Davies had been diagnosed as insane, Palmerston paid for his legal defense.
7. Palmerston was the Foreign Secretary when Victoria took power — In his second term as Foreign Secretary during Victoria’s early years, it’s interesting that he was absent from season one. He may have been a little bit busy with the strife between the Middle East, Egypt and Turkey, and his work to get China’s borders open for free trade. That said…
8. Victoria and Palmerston really did have beef — Victoria didn’t trust Palmerston as far as she could throw him, largely because of his tendency to make decisions without the approval of Parliament or herself. They also frequently clashed over her role in determining foreign policy. But also…
9. Palmerston was very sneaky — To enhance public opinion of himself and encourage the British nationalism that supported his work in foreign policy, Palmerston was known for controlling all communications coming out of his office, leaking secrets to the press and publishing secret documents.
10. His wife was Lord Melbourne’s sister — While Palmerston married the Widow Cowper, neé Emily Lamb, in 1839, it wasn’t their first… affair. Emily and Palmerston had conducted a secret relationship for years, even during her marriage to the Earl of Cowper. Yikes.
While these facts might not give away what happens in this season of Victoria, they do give us a good idea of what Palmerston is capable of – and what might just happen as all the action heats up.
All facts in this article sourced from:
Lord Palmerston – The Encyclopedia Britannica.
Lord Palmerston – Jasper Godwin Riley – Constable, 1970.
Lord Palmerston on the History of Government Blog – Professor Jonathan Parry – Gov.UK.
Wives of Prime Ministers 1844 – 1906. Elizabeth Lee. Public Domain.
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount of Palmerston – Wikipedia.
Read the full article on WGBH.
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