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Another ride in the park, another assassination attempt on Victoria. This time the assailant is an Irishman agitating for independence. As the queen recovers from the trauma in her chambers, her new dresser, Abigail, offers her opinion on the Irish: even though Victoria’s government says the Potato Famine has ended, there is still simmering anger in Ireland over their mistreatment by the Protestant English, and many Irish (particularly the Catholics) desire independence.
Victoria decides to visit Ireland, something no British monarch has done for centuries. Lord Palmerston has an estate there where his wife Emily (Lord Melbourne’s sister) resides; he will arrange the trip, and the Queen and her party will stay at his house before going to Dublin. Observing that Sophie is suffering marital difficulties and hoping to soothe them, Victoria decides that Sophie’s loathsome husband Monmouth will join the party.
Before leaving the palace, Albert brings in a Cambridge tutor for Bertie without Victoria’s approval. But Bertie quickly shows progress, as the tutor uses card games to teach him arithmetic. Feodora also continues to sow discord by once again suggesting to Albert that childbirth has addled Victoria’s mind. With that poisonous comment festering, Feo is left in England with the children while Victoria and Albert head off to Ireland. While they’re away, a cleric comes to Feodora wanting to be appointed dean of Ely, offering support and gratitude if she helps him. Feo is intrigued.
Despite warnings of danger, Victoria is met with a mostly respectful crowd in County Cork, other than a few independence-minded rabble-rousers. Albert believes Palmerston has arranged things so that Victoria sees only supporters. He’s also appalled when he hear rumors that Emily Palmerston’s child from a previous marriage is Lord Palmerston’s. And he puts his foot in it when he tells Victoria that her decisions since the birth of Louise have been “questionable” and that Feo agrees. “I don’t shed part of my brain every time I have a baby,” Victoria indignantly replies.
And Albert’s not the only misogynistic husband around. Monmouth is a boor who cruelly downplays his wife’s intelligence and says that women are dumber than men. Palmerston is starting to seem like the only worthwhile male partner: at least he and Emily are open about their dalliances outside their marriage, as Emily unabashedly relates to Victoria. Theirs is a marriage without secrets.
Sophie’s is not. While walking along the beach, she finds Joseph swimming. They walk together and sympathize over their powerlessness against their oppressors (Monmouth and Penge), and soon she is asking him to kiss her, he’s offering “nothing less than love,” and they’re rolling in the sand. When they both return to the estate at the same time but from different directions, Palmerston notices and infers the truth. He warns Sophie to be careful.
Distrusting Palmerston, Albert tries to find some Irish dissenters. He goes to visit Palmerston’s tenants but finds their houses empty. He then brings Victoria there to prove that Palmerston has sent away would-be rabble-rousers. On their way back to the estate, the royal couple are startled by a gunshot. A man emerges and introduces himself as Magee, Palmerston’s gamekeeper. He tells them Palmerston cleared his tenants out during the Famine, and that Palmerston is just like the rest of the English gentry: they don’t care about the Irish, the “dirty Papists,” as they call them.
Albert confronts Palmerston. Yes, the tenants all left, mostly for New York, but they were happy to do so and still write Palmerston letters, the Lord claims. Palmerston likes Magee, but he’s not his gamekeeper: he’s a poacher, whom Palmerston has had to report to a magistrate several times. Palmerston has an answer for everything. Albert is still not convinced.
Victoria turns to Abigail for advice. Is she convinced by the friendliness the Irish have demonstrated thus far? Abigail is skeptical – but Dublin will be the real test. Before leaving for the city, Emily advises Victoria that if Cardinal Ronin, whom she will be meeting, speaks favorably, Protestant England and Catholic Ireland have a chance to become closer.
When Victoria arrives in Dublin, the Cardinal offers her a dove as a token of peace. She in turn pledges to help Ireland recover from the Potato Famine, and releases the dove in a symbolic gesture.
Returning to the palace, Victoria and Albert are delighted to find Bertie’s French much improved thanks to his new tutor. But Victoria later notices a troubling rash on Bertie’s arm, one that he tries to hide from her. When she is later sitting with Abigail, telling her new dresser that she wants her to feel comfortable initiating conversations, Abigail blurts out that Victoria is right to worry about Bertie; the household staff has concerns. Victoria heads straight to the tutor, where she finds him punishing Bertie by twisting his arm. Victoria dismisses the tutor immediately.
Albert blames himself, and is devastated. When Victoria reveals that she’s pregnant again, neither of them seem very happy about the news.
Albert did manage to help another member of the family. Feo asked him to intervene in the case of the cleric at Ely, and Albert, knowing and liking the man, got him the deanship. When Palmerston hears the news, he questions Feo: where did she get her new pearls? But she still has blackmail on him.
And Palmerston has another enemy, too: Monmouth suspects Sophie has slept with someone else, and he believes it’s Palmerston. He confronts the Foreign Secretary at their mutual gentleman’s club, where Palmerston denies it and insults Monmouth. Monmouth vows retribution. Palmerston may want to watch his back.