A a new feature film out soon will shed light on an unlikely friendship struck in Queen Victoria’s later years with much of it played out right here on the Isle of Wight.
Victoria and Abdul charts the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim (played by Ali Fazal), a young
clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favour with the Queen herself. As she questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle attempt to destroy. According to producers, the film shows their friendship deepening and the Queen beginning to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaiming her humanity in the final 15 years of her life.
The Island sits proudly as the jewel in the crown with Osborne House firmly in the limelight. The Queen’s former seaside residence is the only one of her home’s to be used as a location for filming and is the first time that the interior of Osborne has been shown on the silver screen. The influence India had on Victoria is nowhere more apparent than at Osborne, where a new ‘Indian’ wing was added to the main house and new kitchens were built specifically for spices to be prepared for the Queen’s curry luncheons. The Indian inspired Durbar room (named after the Indian word for state reception) with its elaborate ceiling designed by Lockwood Kipling (father of Rudyard) and one of his former students, the architect Bhai Ram Singh, is breathtaking. It was the room where Queen Victoria entertained European royalty in the later part of her reign, and designed as a state setting. The room was restored in 2015 to be an exact replica of how it would have been during the Queen’s time and visitors can now view it through her eyes, with a banquet table laid up exactly as it would have been in the 1890s.
Every surface is richly embellished from the ceiling to the white walls. The decoration includes the Indian symbols of Ganesha – the Hindu elephant God of good fortune and a peacock over the chimney piece. 26 craftsmen worked on the chimney piece and overmantel with over 500 hours spent on producing the peacock alone, which was equivalent to one man working solidly for ten weeks!
Also seen on-screen for the first time is the Grand Corridor with its ornamental decorative Minton tiles and sculptures; and the Yellow Drawing Room, decorated with luxurious upholstery and drapes. The setting impressed Dame Judi Dench so much so that she has recently taken up the role of patron of Osborne, commenting “We had a wonderful time filming at Osborne and everyone there was absolutely wonderful. I am delighted to be able to continue the association, although I cannot promise to be a very frequent visitor.”
Victoria and Abdul is set for release on the 15th September 2017, see the official trailer here.