Affectionately nicknamed the grandmother of Europe and known for being the second-longest reigning British monarch of all time, when it comes to Queen Victoria, there is so much that we know about the iconic and divisive figure.
From her loving 21-year-long marriage to Prince Albert to her constant and frequently voiced disappointment in her eldest son and heir, Prince Edward, much has been written about Victoria’s relationships with the men in her life and retold on screen.
But what about the relationships we don’t know about? The ones that have never made it to the pages or been fully understood? The ones that have been the source of rumour and gossip for over a century?
Such is the question being raised in Victoria & Abdul, a film set to hit screens September 14 starring Dame Judi Dench once again as Queen Victoria (she won a BAFTA for playing the same queen in 1997's Mrs Brown). Victoria & Abdul finally delves into one of the most important relationships the Queen had in her later years of life, one so many of us know so little about.
When they first met in June 1887, Abdul Karim was just 24 years old. He had left behind his family, friends and a position as a clerk in India to travel to London, where he was to take up a position in Queen Victoria's household as a dining servant. It was a move he and his family considered to be a great honour and worthy of sacrificing so much for.
By all accounts that do still exist, it seems the pair's bond was almost instantaneous, despite their sizeable age gap (Victoria was already 68 when they first came into contact) and differences in language and life experiences. Victoria had lived a life of extreme privilege and privacy, removed from much of the world and the day-to-day life of everyday people; whereas Abdul had spent his childhood in the city of Jhansi, growing up the son of a doctor. Yet despite this, a connection flourished between them within weeks.