The ruler of England discovers the value of common friendship in this historical drama. After the death of her husband Prince Albert, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) is despondent, and she remains in mourning for two years after Albert's passing.
When one of her servants suggests that a daily ride on horseback might be a tonic for the Queen's health and spirits, a Scotsman named John Brown (Billy Connolly) is hired as her guide and groom.
At first, the Queen shows no interest in riding, though Brown readies a horse for her each day; finally, after several days, Mr. Brown speaks frankly to the Queen, announcing, Honest to God, I never thought I'd see you in such a state! While her court is shocked, the Queen is refreshed that someone would speak to her so directly.
Soon the Queen is riding with Mr. Brown every morning, and she discovers him to be a friend and confidante who will speak to her as a person and not as a potentate. However, many are shocked by their relationship, believing that the commoner Mr. Brown is using his friendship for political advantage -- or worse, that he's become her lover.