Having looked at Victoria's personal life, we now look at the events of her reign through her Prime Ministers. In this first of two episodes, we encounter the first six of her ten leaders. Her first PM, Melbourne, was an old-school Whig with a penchant for anecdotes and little work, while Sir Robert Peel's efforts to modernise the Conservative party saw a split that threw politics into confusion for the next ten years. Lord John Russell (Whig) and the Earl of Derby (Conservative) both struggled to hold their respective governments together, while the Earl of Aberdeen's talented coalition was brought down by the Crimean War. Victoria had positive relationships with all five, but it was the roguish, charming, womanising, unpredictable Lord Palmerston who came to dominate, winning the support of the public and overseeing the formation of the Liberal Party.
November 18, 2012