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What ‘Bridgerton’ Got Right About Queen Charlotte

Photo Credit: Netflix / oxanafl via MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: Netflix / oxanafl via MovieStillsDB

The same extravagant costumes, scandalous Regency gossip, and steamy romance recently will soon return to our living rooms for the prequel to Netflix’s hit period drama Bridgerton.

We hope the latest installment will be just as full of historical Easter eggs that detail the realities of 19th-century life in England’s high society.  The trailer for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, featuring India Amarteifio as a young Charlotte, looks very promising in that regard.

While many Bridgerton characters are solely fictional, Queen Charlotte is one of the few true-to-life personas. As one of the most commanding presences on the show, Bridgerton‘s rendition of Queen Charlotte is surprisingly accurate. Read on for some fascinating facts about the queen and her life.

Actress Golda Roshuevel in costume as Queen Charlotte.
Golda Roshuevel as an older Queen Charlotte in the original Netflix period series Bridgerton. (Photo Credit: Netflix / Shondaland /CVD Productions via MovieStillsDB)

The real Queen Charlotte

Born on May 19, 1744, Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg, Prince of Mirow, and his wife Princess Elisabeth.

In 1761, the 17-year-old Princess Charlotte married King George III and became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, even though the German princess spoke no English when she arrived in Britain. Throughout her life, Queen Charlotte would celebrate her German heritage by supporting German musicians and artists, and even introducing the Christmas Tree to England in 1800.

Like many marriages at this time, George and Charlotte’s partnership was purely strategic. As a princess from a small German family with little inheritance or political affiliation, King George III saw Charlotte as a suitable consort. After they were married, 22-year-old King George III supposedly told his new wife “not to meddle” in British politics – which she gladly agreed to.

Portrait of Queen Charlotte and her two young sons George and Frederick.
Queen Charlotte with her Two Eldest Sons George and Frederick, 1769. (Photo Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

With little political work to do, Queen Charlotte was free to participate in high society, pursue her love of botany, and design new homes and gardens around Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s love of nature is featured in one of the stranger scenes from Season Two of Bridgerton: her collection of zebras!

‘The Queen’s Ass’

In the episode “Off to The Races,” Queen Charlotte introduces Lady Danbury and sisters Kate and Edwina Sharma to her “striped horses from Africa” while visiting the palace. The Queen jokingly says that after having 15 children, she “can’t think what to name” all the zebras.

In reality, only one of Queen Charlotte’s zebras would make history – and its name says it all.

An original portrait of Queen Charlotte's zebra painted by artist George Stubbs.
Queen Charlotte’s Zebra, “The First Zebra Seen in England” Portrait of a Zebra, standing, turned to the left, in a park, George Stubbs, 1724-1806, British (Photo Credit: Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In 1762, Queen Charlotte was gifted a female zebra which was brought from South Africa by Sir Thomas Adams. She was placed in the Queen’s royal menagerie which was home to a growing collection of exotic animals. But none of these rare animals was as loved by the public as the black and white striped “Queen’s ass.”

Side-by-side image of the real Queen Charlotte and her character played by Golda Rosheuvel in Bridgerton.
Left: “Charlotte of Mecklenburg”, 1935. Artist Unknown. (Photo Credit: The Print Collector/Getty Images). Right: Golda Rosheuvel plays Queen Charlotte in Bridgerton. (Photo Credit: Netflix/Shondaland/CVD Productions via. MovieStillsDB).

One onlooker later wrote that the “Queen’s she-ass was pestered with visits, and had all her hours employed from morning to night in satisfying the curiosity of the public.” Supposedly, citizens loved to use nicknames as an innuendo referring to the queen herself rather than her pet zebra.

Bridgerton‘s Queen Charlotte

Some researchers believe Queen Charlotte was descended from a branch of the Portuguese royal family that came from a 13th-century ruler and his lover who some historians think was a Moor. Bridgerton’s approach to representing multiple racial identities, including Queen Charlotte’s, reimagines the Regency period in a more inclusive, modern way.

‘Bridgerton’ Season 2 follows sisters Edwina (Charitha Chandran) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) as they navigate finding love in British high society. (Photo Credit: Netflix/Shondaland/CVD Productions via MovieStillsDB)
‘Bridgerton’ Season 2 follows sisters Edwina (Charitha Chandran) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) as they navigate finding love in British high society. (Photo Credit: Netflix/Shondaland/CVD Productions via MovieStillsDB)

More from us: 7 Major Historical Mistakes ‘The Crown’ Made

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story hits Netflix on May 4.

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

The Digital Dust Podcast