In 1837, Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is heir to the throne of England. When her uncle the king dies, she is an 18-year-old girl who still plays with dolls and frolics with her cute little dog. Although she has been schooled for her position, she knows little of war and peace, rituals and etiquette.

Victoria's German mother is under the spell of an ambitious courtier, Sir John Conroy (Paul Rhys), who is determined to become Regent, the person who calls the shots for this adolescent. Victoria rightly views him as a personal enemy and spends a great deal of time and energy trying to find out what this power-hungry man is doing.

Luckily, Victoria is blessed with the company of Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell), a seasoned political veteran and a walking, talking encyclopedia of facts, memories, and experiences that come in handy in his multidimensional role as her personal advisor, coach, and mentor. With him at her side, Victoria as Queen learns about both the tricks and the traps of her destiny.

As her Prime Minister, Melbourne guides, directs, and sustains Victoria's career as she takes on the onerous responsibilities and learns the essentials of Royal activities. She meets the challenges to her reign and gathers the wisdom and courage to survive. In the process, Victoria impresses her adoring advisor; she is swept away by him as well but propriety carries the day. Meanwhile, over the years an unending stream of gossip about who Victoria should and will marry trickles through the English empire and beyond.

Victoria eventually marries Albert (Tom Hughes), a serious young man who clashes with her repeatedly but must give way to her will and her position as queen. Sex spices up their early years together and soon Victoria is expecting a child. But even this news is met by more intrigue as people jockey to be appointed regent should she die in childbirth. Season 1 ends with the birth of her daughter.

Jenna Coleman shines in the demanding lead role and draws us to her side a she grows and matures before our eyes. The most salient accomplishment of Victoria is what the screenplay writers reveal about the demands of the monarchy and the tension between public and private life.