If you haven't watched Bridgerton yet, then you clearly don't know what you're missing. Not only is it one of the best series to come out of Netflix since The Crown, it's become a world-wide phenomenon that has us so weak at the knees, we may or may not be on our second viewing already.
Hey, no judgment here. What else is there to do in lockdown?
Although the Duke of Hastings' every move was spoon- worthy and Daphne Bridgerton's gowns made us want to jump into a 1800's novel, there was another key character who made the show: Queen Charlotte. Portrayed on screen by the incomparable Golda Rosheuvel, the monarch's hilarious quips, fierce nature and lavish Rococo-inspired gowns and three-tier feathered wigs (which even Marie Antoinette would be jealous of) had us gripped at every scene.
While the TV series is not based on a true story (who else Googled the Duke after viewing episode one?) - it's based on the brilliant best-selling novels by Julia Quinn - it seems Queen Charlotte is the one character who actually was real. The monarch was not featured in the original books, but we can thank show runner Chris Van Dusen for adding her into the series, after being inspired by real life royalty.
"Queen Charlotte opened up an entirely new world for us," Van Dusen told Oprah Magazine. "What really struck me with the books from the beginning is that this was an opportunity to marry history and fantasy in a really exciting, interesting way," he said.
So, who was the real Queen Charlotte?
Born Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz on 19 May, 1744 in Germany, Charlotte was the youngest daughter of the Prince of Mirow, Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg, and Princess Elisabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen.
At 17, in September 1761, she married King George III in London and almost a year later Charlotte gave birth to a son on the 12 August 1762. He was titled the Prince of Wales, and would go on to become King George IV. Throughout her life, Queen Charlotte had 15 children, 13 of whom survived until adulthood.
The royal couple was also responsible for purchasing some of the British royal family's most famous residences. According to the royal website, the couple's official royal residence was St James' Palace, until they moved into the newly purchased Buckingham House - now Buckingham Palace - in 1762.
Another fun royal real estate fact: Charlotte purchased the estate of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's former home Frogmore House, as a country retreat for herself and her daughters in 1792.
Among her many interests, Queen Charlotte was passionate about the arts and was a connoisseur of music. Her fondness for concerts astonishingly led to an eight-year-old Mozart performing for her majesty, which formed a deep respect between the pair. In fact, the music prodigy eventually dedicated his infamous Opus 3 to the Queen in 1765. Who knew?!
One of the most divisive topics about the Queen is her heritage, with some historians believing that she was the first mixed race or Black British royal.
"Queen Charlotte, wife of the English King George III (1738-1820), was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House," historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom wrote in 1999 on PBS' Frontline.
According to the Washington Post, Valdes wrote that Queen Charlotte's lineage can be traced back to King Alfonso III's mistress Ouruana, who was Black. The Queen was also described by her physician as a term now known to be derogatory, meaning a person of mixed white and black ancestry. Many portraits of the Queen also featured her with a darker complexion and curly hair.
Queen Charlotte's lineage has been disputed by many historians, and even by the royal family. According to The Boston Globe, in 1999 a spokesperson for the royal family said of the matter: "This has been rumoured for years and years. It is a matter of history, and frankly, we’ve got far more important things to talk about."
Whatever the truth behind the real life Queen Charlotte, we love the character and we love the show. So if season 2 could just come a bit sooner...
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