The six-episode drama, created by Shonda Rhimes and starring India Armateifio and Corey Mylchreest, makes it very clear that it is not to be taken as a historical retelling of Charlotte and George, but instead explains in a disclaimer that opens the series that it is merely “fiction inspired by fact,” and any and all “liberties taken by the author are intentional.”
Though the distinction is crucial for Queen Charlotte, many elements of Rhimes’ story are actually taken from factual events, such as the couple’s quick marriage, their coronation ceremony and George’s health issues — just with an added dose of spice.
Queen Charlotte was initially introduced in the first season of Bridgerton, a series inspired by Julia Quinn’s romance novels, and was one of the only historical figures in the otherwise fictional world. Queen Charlotte focuses on Charlotte’s younger years as she acclimated to her new beginning as a royal, but what parts are actually real? ET breaks down seven of the biggest questions from the Bridgerton prequel and explains what’s fact and what’s fiction.
Is King Charles III related to the King George III and Queen Charlotte onscreen?
Yes, Charlotte and George are Charles III’s great-great-great-great-great grandparents. The real-life family tree is actually just as dramatic as any fictionalized show.
As depicted in Queen Charlotte, George III and Charlotte welcomed 15 children during their marriage, 13 of whom survived into adulthood. The couple’s eldest son, George IV, became king upon his father’s death in 1820. George IV’s only child, Princess Charlotte, died in childhood in 1817, thus leaving George with no heir other than his surviving younger brother, William IV. William ruled for seven years but also died with no legitimate heir (he was, however, survived by eight illegitimate children), therefore leaving the throne to his niece, Victoria, the daughter of George and Charlotte’s fourth son, Edward.
Queen Victoria famously ruled England from 1837 to 1901. She married her husband, Prince Albert, in 1840, and the couple welcomed nine children. Because children took the house (royal last name) of their father, not their mother, her death marked the end of England’s House of Hanover. Victoria’s eldest son, Edward VII, became the first king of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1901, which his son, George V, later renamed the House of Windsor during the First World War. Today’s royal family still uses the Windsor name. (Queen Elizabeth went against patriarchal tradition by assigning her children the House of Windsor rather than switching to her husband, Prince Philip’s, House of Mountbatten in 1948.)
George V ruled for nearly 50 years until his eldest son, Edward VIII, took the throne upon his father’s death in 1936. Edward’s reign lasted only 11 months before he abdicated the throne in order to be able to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorcee. His brother, George VI, became king after Edward’s abdication, and ruled until his death in 1952, at which point his daughter, Elizabeth, became queen.
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. Upon Queen Elizabeth’s death last year, Charles became king. His eldest son, William, is now first in line for the throne.
Did King George III actually suffer from an illness?
Yes, though historians are still unsure what exactly it was.
Bridgerton fans will recall that King George was rarely seen onscreen during the show’s first two seasons, and often referenced as someone who is not of right mind. Queen Charlotte delves deeper into the backstory of George’s affliction, portraying his struggle to maintain control over his own mind. Historians had theorized the illness could have been related to porphyria, a rare genetic blood disorder, but in recent years, others suggest he could have had hypomania, a condition often associated with bipolar disorder.
In his later years, George also suffered from blindness and dementia, which are also portrayed to varying degrees in Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte.
“It was a privilege to be able to play George in general,” Queen Charlotte star Corey Mylchreest told ET. “He is a man, affliction aside, who has a wide spectrum of behavior, which, as an actor is amazing. I think it was brilliant, not only to be able to explore his health and the pain that he individually experiences and the misery that he individually experiences, but also how that affected the main narrative, which is the love story and how their love finds ways — like running water, evade and keep flowing.”
Was Queen Charlotte actually biracial?
Yes, but as we know, her tenure as queen didn’t change history.
Bridgerton briefly dipped its toe into Queen Charlotte’s real-life mixed race ancestry, depicting a Regency era that was obviously more racially inclusive than historical record. Queen Charlotte fills in the blanks on how the Ton got there in the first place.
“Queen Charlotte, [we] already created a very simple backstory for her on Bridgerton,” show creator Shonda Rhimes told ET, adding that George and Charlotte’s “love [is what] united the countries.” The romance “is the explanation for the society, and I really wanted to explore that part because what does that actually mean?” she said.
The real-life Queen Charlotte was a direct descendent of Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House. Historian has Mario de Valdes y Cocom has also pointed to accounts of Charlotte’s appearance that were “conspicuously African.” The theories have pushed some historians to conjecture that Charlotte was “Britain’s first Black queen.” Her backstory resurfaced in 2018 when Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, a biracial American. The union was seen as another groundbreaking move in the racial politics of Britain’s aristocracy.
Still, Rhimes said that Queen Charlotte has nothing to do with Meghan. “It wasn’t an inspiration for me,” Rhimes told ET. “She is a real-life, breathing human being.”
Instead, Rhimes took inspiration from another real-life queen. “The biggest inspiration for me was Queen Victoria really,” she said. “I really [did] a lot of reading on Queen Victoria, sort of fascinated by the world that they were in back then and so that to me was probably one of the biggest influences.”
How accurate is George III’s coronation?
Queen Charlotte doesn’t spend much time on George’s coronation scene, but royal fans may still recognize some similarities to the recent coronation of King Charles III. Namely, the recreation of the coronation chair, upon which the monarch sits during the anointing.
The famous chair was commissioned by Edward I in 1300 to enclose the Stone of Destiny from Scotland. The same chair, now over 700 years old, has been used in every coronation since. Fans watching the coronation of Charles III may have also caught a glimpse of the Stone of Destiny beneath the chair’s seat, which is also still intact.
Real-life King George III sat in the same chair for his coronation in 1761, for a ceremony that reportedly lasted upward of six hours. The scene is much shorter than this in Queen Charlotte.
George III also commissioned the construction of the royal family’s Gold State Coach, which wasn’t ready for his own coronation but has been since been used at every coronation since 1831, including King Charles III’s this year.
How accurate is George III and Charlotte’s wedding?
Queen Charlotte‘s depiction of George and Charlotte’s wedding is correct in the speed at which it happened: It’s true Charlotte met George the same day that they were married. At the time, Charlotte was 17 and George was 22.
Charlotte’s wedding gown, however, is not as accurate. In fact, Charlotte’s granddaughter, Queen Victoria, was the leader in our modern preference for white wedding dresses. At the time of Charlotte’s wedding, it was far more common to wear a colorful gown. Queen Charlotte costume designer Lyn Elizabeth Paolo recently told the New York Times that the wedding dress on the show was actually based on Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation dress from 1953.
Did George III buy Buckingham Palace?
Yes. Though Queen Charlotte mentions Buckingham Palace as the house George prepared for Queen Charlotte as her new royal residence, the show doesn’t delve into the logistics behind how he came to give Charlotte the estate, which was then known as Buckingham House.
In real life, George purchased Buckingham House for Charlotte in 1762, about a year after they were married. The majority of their 15 children were actually born in Buckingham House, which quickly became the couple’s favorite home. It officially became the royal residence when Queen Victoria began her rule. In the present day, though King Charles III and Queen Camilla call Buckingham Palace their main home, they don’t actually own it themselves.
Are all the royals obsessed with their dogs?
Perhaps not all, but many of them! In Queen Charlotte, George gifts Charlotte a Pomeranian dog. In actuality, Charlotte traveled to England to marry George with two Pomeranians with her, according to Harper’s Bazaar. Her love of the breed led her to often gift Pomeranians to members of the royal family.
Charlotte’s love of the four-legged seemed to continue into future generations. Her granddaughter, Queen Victoria, loved to breed dachshunds, collies and pugs, and reportedly kept over 80 dogs throughout her lifetime.
Of course, Queen Elizabeth II was known for her love of corgis, while her father, King George VI, had an affection for Labrador retrievers. Now, King Charles III is said to favor Jack Russell Terriers.
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