Victoria's Island Trail

A special ‘Victoria’s Island Trail’ has been created to coincide with the release of the major feature film ‘Victoria and Abdul’, out in cinema's now.

Victoria and Abdul stars Academy Award winner Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, Ali Fazal as her servant Adbul Karim and Eddie Izzard as ‘Bertie’ her son, the Prince of Wales. Directed by Stephen Frears, most of the film was shot on location at Osborne, the seaside palace that Prince Albert built for his queen on the Isle of Wight. The terraces were even used as a location for a visit that Queen Victoria and Abdul made to Florence.

The film Victoria and Abdul is the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in Queen Victoria’s later years. Queen Victoria was also Empress of India, and when Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, he is surprised to find favour with the Queen herself.

At first Queen Victoria takes language lessons from Abdul, and then she introduces curry to the royal lunchtime menu. Soon the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance, with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy.

“It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot"

Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert chose the Isle of Wight as their favourite holiday spot, creating a palatial home at Osborne, East Cowes that was based on the Italian architecture that Albert loved. But he sadly died in 1861, leaving the young queen to continue ruling for another 40 years alone.

After Albert’s death Victoria chose to spend the majority of her time at Osborne, where she had been so happy with him and their growing family. Although she was Empress of India, she was advised not to visit the country so she had India brought to her in the form of the ornate Durbar Room that she added to Osborne.

Designed by Rudyard Kipling’s father Lockwood, and master carver Bhai Ram Singh, this unique room is detailed with intricate Indian-style plaster work to reflect Queen Victoria’s then status as Empress of India. There are also Indian gifts displayed in cabinets in the room and the ‘Indian corridor’ from the main part of the house has portraits and paintings from India all along its length.

Eddie Izzard admitted to sneaking into the Durbar Room with Dame Judi Dench whilst in full costume during filming at Osborne, because neither had seen the ornate room.

"So we went down corridors and down corridors, she as Queen Victoria and me as Bertie. We went in there, ten people were just looking around and suddenly we could see them going “that's Queen Victoria there,” and I saw one camera go up and I was whispering “no cameras, no cameras,” I was like security, dressed as Bertie, because I did not want those photos getting out there early."

The royal family spent their holidays on the Isle of Wight visiting attractions, towns and beauty spots across the Isle of Wight. In her later years the Queen spent much of her time at Osborne, taking carriage rides to her favourite places. And it is the locations that Victoria particularly visited that make up Victoria’s Island Trail.

Take the Victoria’s Island Trail

The Victoria’s Island Trail features key locations across the Island, including the hotel where she would take afternoon tea, the church where Victoria’s youngest daughter Princess Beatrice was married and the former yacht club that was created just for her.

Osborne is one of the locations, and they currently have a display of a few of the costumes worn in the film Victoria and Abdul. Another location is Carisbrooke Castle where Victoria’s daughter Beatrice lived for many years. Attractions that Victoria visited include the pretty Shanklin Chine where Keats once wrote his poetry and Blackgang Chine, which she visited to see the bones of a huge whale that was washed up on a nearby beach.

To follow the trail you just use the interactive map at this link and click on the icons to find out more information about the attraction or location that is at each location. If you are on a mobile device you can use two fingers to pinch and move the map before making your choice.

And if you’re coming to the Isle of Wight to take the Victoria’s Island Trail you can even indulge in a royal stay on the Osborne estate at nearby Albert Cottage or in the self-catering apartment managed by English Heritage within the walls of Carisbrooke Castle. 

Jo Macaulay

1 September 2017

By Jo Macaulay in Articles