Monday, January 15, 2018

Diana Rigg as the Duchess of Buccleuch?

I watched the first episode of the second season of Victoria on PBS last night, tuning in a little late and was shocked to see Diana Rigg (primarily because I barely recognized her). Then I discovered that she was playing Charlotte Anne Montagu Douglas Scott, Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry, Queen Victoria's Mistress of Robes from 1841 to 1846 during Sir Robert Peel's second administration. Why the producers of Victoria chose to cast Diana Rigg, who is 80, to play the role of a woman who is 30 (Charlotte Anne was born in 1811) boggles the mind. The real Duchess of Buccleuch was a young wife and mother of four, who would have a daughter, the Lady Victoria Alexandrina Montagu Douglas Scott, while serving Queen Victoria (mother and child pictured together at left)--Queen Victoria was Lady Victoria's Godmother.

Changing the Duchess' age throws the dynamic of their relationship off and in the context of the theme of the episode as Queen Victoria was learning how to juggle being a wife, monarch, and mother--there was quite a dispute about who would open the boxes (documents from the Prime Minister) to review--an actress portraying a slightly older young wife  and mother with noble duties would have been more appropriate.

Queen Victoria liked the Duchess and found her "an agreeable, sensible, clever little person." One thing that Queen Victoria probably thought contradicted that notion of being sensible was that the Duchess of Buccleuch became a "Roman" Catholic in 1860, 14 years after leaving the queen's household. The Duchess's brother, an Anglican minister, the Reverend Lord Charles Thynne, had became a Catholic in 1853. Lord Charles and Charlotte Anne's brother, the Reverend Lord John Thynne, was prominent High Church Anglican, so these "defections" would have been particularly difficult for him to accept. More about him at the Westminster Abbey website.

The Duchess and Cecil, the Marchioness of Lothian, became partners in charity and support for Catholic causes because Cecil, waiting until her husband died, became a Catholic in 1851 and her brother-in-law, another Anglican minister, the Reverend Lord Henry Kerr, "poped" in 1852. Cecil's sons, Lord Ralph Kerr and Lord Walter Kerr, and her daughters.

The Duchess of Buccleuch particularly supported the former nursing partner of Florence Nightingale, Frances Margaret Taylor in her life as Sister Mary Magdalen of the Sacred Heart, foundress of the religious order, the Poor Servants of the Mother of God. Taylor was also a convert to Catholicism.

Although she probably never reconciled with her former lady's "crossing the Tiber", Queen Victoria sent condolences when the Duchess of Buccleuch died on March 28, 1895, as this obit from The Tablet describes.

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