‘The Bridgertons’ does not pretend to be a faithful portrait of London in Regency times (of course, in those years of the 19th-century versions of ‘thank u, next’ by Ariana Grande were not played with a chorus of violins), but That is not to say that everything he shows us is an anachronistic fantasy.
Created by Chris Van Dusen and produced by Shonda Rhimes (‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Scandal’), the series is based on the hit novels by Julia Quinn, where members of the large Bridgerton family experience vital and loving adventures of all type, ranging from finding a husband/wife to exploring your artistic concerns. But Daphne, Anthony and company are not the only protagonists of the story, which also introduces us to Lady Whistledown (an anonymous ‘Gossip Girl’ gossip who is dedicated to airing the dirty laundry of London’s elite) and the Duke of Hastings ( Regé-Jean Page has raised the temperature considerably on Netflix.)
But, among all this fiction, there is also reality. For example, marriage markets and social anxiety to match young people at all costs was the most common at the time, as well as gossip gazettes or the ignorance imposed on young women about the basic functioning of the human body. Also Queen Charlotte, who, curiously, is not only one of the novelties of the adaptation with respect to the original material (it did not appear in Quinn’s books) but was also a real monarch in England and wife of King George III. Perhaps the world of ‘The Bridgertons’ is quite a period fantasy full of anachronisms, but she was very real.
Born Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the one who would become Queen Charlotte met King George in 1761, and they were married after six hours of meeting. They certainly weren’t beating around the bush. Although it was a marriage with a certain essence of territorial strategy, their marriage is famous for its success: they were married for almost 60 years, they had 15 children together and they wrote affectionate letters that showed the love they professed. In that, ‘The Bridgertons’ has hit the nail on the head: they both loved each other very much, although, in the last stage of their life, the king’s illness forced them to live apart for a time. He died in 1818, and she just a year later. In the history of royal marriages, yours was an example.
We do not know so many details about her personality (would she be as capricious and gossipy as the Netflix series shows us?), Although we do about her role in the social life of London at the time, in which she was very involved. The first recorded debutante ball was held in his honor, and later King George inaugurated an annual ball in his wife’s name to mark her birthday. Perhaps he did not go so far as to bless newcomers and hire teenagers as private detectives, we leave that to fiction, but he enjoyed the social life of his subjects.
Another detail in which ‘The Bridgertons’ gets right: it is said that the one who would become English monarch had African descent and was mulatto, something that can be seen in the portrait that Allan Ramsay made of her in 19762, although there is still much debate respect. Historians do not agree and the images of her are not abundant, but this portrait helps the scholar Mario de Valdés y Cocom to claim his black heritage. “Artists of that period were expected to minimize, soften, or even erase undesirable features from a subject’s face, but Sir Allan Ramsay was the artist responsible for most of the queen’s paintings, and his depictions of her were decidedly African “he said in The Guardian.
‘The Bridgertons’ settle the race question by leaning towards Valdés and Cocom, signing the actress Golda Rosheuvel to play her. Also, the figure helps Van Dusen to create an entire fictional English society where skin color was not a problem, thanks precisely to Queen Charlotte and her influence at court. She was the one who granted the Duchy of Hastings that Simon Basset inherits, and allowed (again, in fiction) diversity in the elites. “It’s something that resonated with me because it made me wonder how that could have been. And what would have happened? What could she have done? Could the queen have elevated other people of color in society and bestowed titles on them? and lands and ducats?” said the creator in an interview with Collider.
There is a lot of speculation about the figure of Queen Charlotte, but in the Netflix series they make their portrait, based on real data and putting a little of their creative licenses. The result? A fun and all-powerful supporting character. Well, behind Lady Whistledown, of course.