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Picking up a month after the birth of her first child, the new series sees Queen Victoria surprise the court when she insists on returning to her duties as soon as possible.
Having taken charge in her absence, adoring new father Albert decides not to trouble his wife with worrying news regarding the British soldiers in Afghanistan. However, as the reports worsen, Victoria grows increasingly suspicious that he and Prime Minister Robert Peel are hiding something from her.
Determined to reclaim her place with characteristic impulsiveness, Victoria brings in the formidable Duchess of Buccleuch as her new Mistress of the Robes and demands that former chef, Francatelli, return to the palace kitchens.
Meanwhile, Albert's family descend on the palace for the Christening of baby Vicky and their dynastic plotting only intensifies Victoria's sense of frustration. Convinced that the truth is being kept from her, Victoria seeks answers from the Duke of Wellington.
Having resumed her royal duties, Victoria is disconcerted when Albert appears to be drawn to erudite female mathematician, Ada Lovelace, who is working with the acclaimed Charles Babbage. Victoria arranges a cultural evening to meet the pair, but starts to fear that she is losing her husband's attention.
Realising that she is pregnant again, Victoria is thrown into further turmoil, fearing she is once again destined to be relegated to the nursery. With tensions between her and Albert at breaking point, how will she reveal the happy news to him?
The mood below stairs is equally unsettled as the servants begin to notice items mysteriously disappearing. Timid new dresser Cleary fears that the palace is haunted, but Brodie discovers the real culprit.
Discontent is growing in the country, and upon hearing the pleas of a silk weaver of Spitalfields, Victoria decides she must help. Against Peel and Albert's advice, she hatches a plan: a fantastic medieval ball at the Palace, where the attendees have to wear costumes made from Spitalfields silk.
Meanwhile, having received no recent news from Lord Melbourne, Victoria grows increasingly concerned. She sends Emma to check up on her old friend to make sure all is well.
Despite his initial protestations, and struggling to find his place as a Prince Consort and husband, Albert allows himself to be seduced by the grandeur of the event, and the opportunity to finally wear a crown. When the ball arrives, it provides the perfect backdrop for old friends to reunite and romances to ignite, but it doesn't receive the positive response from the nation that Victoria had hoped.
The Royal Court is delighted by the arrival of a healthy Prince of Wales, but Victoria finds herself paralysed by an inexplicable sorrow after a difficult birth, and is unable to bond with her son.
Things are not made easier when tragic news arrives from Coburg and Albert is forced to depart for his childhood home - the first time Victoria and Albert have been apart since their wedding. Whilst in Coburg, Albert learns a dark family secret which leaves him feeling lost as to his place in Palace.
Meanwhile, a blunder by Skerrett threatens to put Francatelli in the firing line unless she exposes her deepest secret. Will she confess and risk losing her livelihood? A reluctant revelation from Drummond also threatens to end his tentative friendship with Lord Alfred.
When national duty calls, Victoria finds she cannot escape the responsibilities of being Queen regardless of whether or not Albert is standing behind her, and must draw on reserves of courage that she didn't know she had. Will she in turn be able to reach Albert in his private torment?
Concerned that the pending marriage of King Louis Philippe of France's son to the Spanish Queen will form a dangerous alliance, Victoria sets sail on her first voyage to the continent in an attempt to deter the wily French King.
Accompanied by royals and servants alike, Victoria quickly realises that she will need to have her wits about her if she is to make the charming - but not altogether trustworthy - Louis Philippe take her seriously as a Queen.
Turning to Albert for support, she finds him distant. Unknown to her, he's still reeling from the traumatic revelation about his parentage, and driven to despair by the debauchery and scandal of the French Court.
Left to take on Louis Philippe alone, does Victoria have what it takes as an international leader to finally outsmart him? And will Albert overcome his horror at the decadence around him, and learn to trust Victoria with his secrets?
As news of the horrific famine in Ireland reaches the Queen, Victoria is adamant that her government should be doing more to help. However, Prime Minister Peel is trapped, knowing that to send food to the Irish would destabilise his party and jeopardise his career.
With Albert blinded by his trust in Peel, Victoria begins to question her own convictions.
Meanwhile, the shockwaves from the famine reach right into the Palace, dividing the household and bringing agony for Cleary.
No longer able to watch his parish starve, the Reverend Dr. Traill arrives on Victoria's doorstep with a determined plea for her to intervene. But will his desperate testimony be enough to overcome deep-rooted prejudices, and for Victoria to convince her Prime Minister to act?
There are huge sacrifices to come, and ultimately Victoria will come to realise that, in the face of such appalling tragedy, no act of charity can be great enough.
Feeling suffocated after a repeated assassination attempt leads to increased security at the Palace, Victoria seeks escape to the land she fantasised about as a child: the Scottish Highlands. However, it isn't the romantic retreat she has read about in her Walter Scott novels, and she begins to realise that, wherever she is in the world, she can't escape the fact that she is Queen.
When a day out takes an unexpected turn, Victoria finally gets the anonymity she wished for, while Albert enjoys being able to play the role of a traditional husband for the first time. Hidden away from normal Palace life, the entire court - servants and royals alike - find secrets and romance bubbling up to the surface on a liberating midsummer's night.
As Peel fights the battle of his career in Parliament, facing the consequences of taking a stand against the Corn Laws, Albert inadvertently plays into the hands of Peel's critics, and jeopardises the progress that they have fought for.
Meanwhile, at the Palace, the strained relationship between Victoria, Albert and Victoria's closest confidante, Lehzen, is pushed to breaking point, as Albert grows increasingly frustrated about the control that he perceives Lehzen to have over his wife, especially when the health of their children is at stake.
Faced with the prospect of having to live without their respective crutches, Victoria and Albert begin to lose sight of each other. But when tragedy strikes, they realise that sacrifices will have to be made in both their personal and political lives.