Netflix Queen Charlotte: The Bridgerton Story has been praised for its depiction of the intricacies of love, duty, and mental illness in Queen Charlotte’s marriage (India Amarteifio) and King George (Corey Mylcreast) in 18th century England. This fictional account of royal life largely departs from the perception of Charlotte’s husband as “Mad King George”, the king whose actions prompted the colonies to declare independence from England. Instead, the show shows how King George’s painful descent into mental illness, and a complicated reputation in both Britain and the United States, has overshadowed the story of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz –– a little German princess who enters into their arranged marriage little knowing of the troubles soon befalling her. partner.
Thankfully, despite the expected romantic excesses, the show had something smart to say about Charlotte’s role as wife, mother, and queen at King George’s court. The spin-off actually highlights the immense pressure Charlotte is under to produce an heir to the British throne. As Charlotte was subjected to scrutiny by her mother-in-law, ladies-in-law, maids, and even her husband about her worthiness as the mother of the future king of England, viewers began to understand how limiting her role was at court. is.
Motherhood Is Often Used as Leverage
For Charlotte to gain status, she had to produce an heir to the throne, but the pressure this created, and the court’s open curiosity about her sex life with George, prevented her from knowing her husband or adjusting to British culture. Worse, any child she bore would not just be her son or daughter, but the property of the English crown, subject to centuries of conflicting traditions and a volatile Parliament. This creates further tension between Charlotte and her misguided mother-in-law, Augusta (Michelle Fairley), and left him with only the most precarious status at court.
As the only way to gain any influence in the royal household was to become pregnant, Charlotte’s future success depended on factors largely beyond her control. Therefore, Queen Charlotte: The Bridgerton Story rightly preoccupied with Charlotte’s body as a royal and political entity. The public policing of her uterine status reflects the utilitarian qualities of marriage, sex and reproduction in British courts.
The Royal Bloodline Is a Crucial Thing
The damage wrought by this pattern can be seen in other television shows and films –– fiction, of course, to varying degrees –– about the British royal family. On the BBC Wolf Hall, Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), wife of Henry VIII (Damian Lewis), was executed for, among other things, his inability to quickly produce a son to inherit the English throne. In both 1998’s Elizabeth and 2007’s Elizabeth: The Golden AgeQueen Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett), long-orphaned Princess Anne Boleyn, refuses to sacrifice her freedom through marriage, perhaps foreshadowing a bleak future just like her mother. While the first film deals with Elizabeth’s choice to remain single, thereby rejecting the constant scrutiny of her body as a pathway to royal power, the second examines the lasting effects of this decision. Her refusal to compromise her power––either through a politically advantageous marriage or usurpation of British military supremacy––infuriated the foreign suitors, advisers, and foes that swarmed the British court. Although England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada solidified British influence in Europe and America, Elizabeth’s position as unmarried and childless monarch remained precarious and embattled until the end of her reign.
On Netflix Crown, arguably the most popular and controversial screen depiction of the British monarch in years, Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) herself little more than a child while pregnant with William, finds herself completely isolated in a loveless marriage to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor). Though she ensured the continuation of the royal line by giving birth to William and Harry, she was still treated like an outsider by the royal family, and the couple’s eventual decision to divorce permanently reduced her status among her ex-husband’s relatives and in Windsor. court as a whole.
Although these depictions of the princesses and queens of England should be taken with a grain of salt –– fiction is at the heart of the creative process, and what is shown on screen is very different from what happens in real life –– Queen Charlotte’s story is only the latest example of how royal power has inherently, and perniciously, related to fertility. Despite its mild nature, Queen Charlotte: The Bridgerton Story get to the uncomfortable truth about royal womanhood.
Queen Charlotte: The Bridgerton Story is now available to stream on Netflix.