'Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story' : What's Fact and What's Fiction

Netflix's Bridgerton spinoff series is loosely based on the true story of Queen Charlotte and King George

Portrait of Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818), Queen Charlotte. India Ria Amarteifio as Young Queen Charlotte in episode 101 of Queen Charlotte.
Photo: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty, Liam Daniel/Netflix

Netflix's Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is shedding light on Queen Charlotte and King George III's love story.

Released on May 4, the Bridgerton spinoff series takes place in two different time periods as it recounts the early beginnings of the royal couple's marriage leading into the Regency era.

Though a voiceover from narrator Julie Andrews prefaces that the story "is not a history lesson," the series is very much inspired by real-life events.

Even though it does dramatize certain aspects of Charlotte and George's lives, many parts of the show actually did happen.

Wondering what is fact and what is fiction? Read ahead as we break down some of the biggest historical moments from the show.

Warning: spoilers for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story ahead.

Was Queen Charlotte biracial?


Though she was born in Germany, the daughter of a Duke, Queen Charlotte was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, which was the Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.

While her racial background can't be entirely confirmed, art historians who studied portraits of Charlotte more closely following her death seem to believe she was biracial. In that era, artists typically were encouraged to downplay features deemed "undesirable" — which, during that time's largely prejudiced society, often included those that were considered more traditionally African, according to The Guardian.

However, one painter Sir Allan Ramsay, who was staunchly against slavery (and was married the niece of Lord Mansfield, a judge who ruled in the first case that eventually led to the end of slavery in the British Empire), painted several portraits of Charlotte, which people believe may be more reflective of her actual appearance.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. (L to R) Corey Mylchreest as Young King George, India Amarteifio as Young Queen Charlotte in episode 101 of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.
Liam Daniel/Netflix

Were Queen Charlotte and King George III married on the same day they met?


In July 1761, George announced his intentions to wed Charlotte. A marriage contract was signed a month later and the two eventually wed in London on Sept. 8, just a few hours after her arrival, per The Royal Household website. At the time, Charlotte was 17 while George was 22. Their Coronation took place later that month on Sept. 22.

Did Queen Charlotte wear a white dress for her wedding?


It was Charlotte's granddaughter Queen Victoria that was actually one of the first women to wear white on her wedding day. During that time period, women usually opted for a colorful wedding dress that they could wear again later, Vanity Fair notes.

"We cheated, because obviously, Queen Victoria started the white wedding gown," costume designer Lyn Paolo told PEOPLE of putting actress India Ria Amarteifio in a white wedding gown for the series. "That was a huge cheat for us because her gown was not white. So there are decisions that we made where we thought, 'Yeah, we should do that. We shouldn't do this.'"

Did Queen Charlotte and King George III have 15 children?


Less than a year after getting married, Charlotte and George welcomed their first child together in August 1762, the Prince of Wales, who would later become King George IV. In total, they had 15 children together, 13 of whom survived to adulthood.

Did King George III study science?


George was the first British monarch to study science systematically, including lessions in physics, chemistry, astronomy and mathematics, per the Science Museum Group.

He also had a deep interest in agriculture, giving him the nickname "Farmer George." Costume designer Paolo told PEOPLE she learned so much about the royal during her research for the series.

"George was brilliant," she explained. "[He] spoke so many languages, and was trying his hardest to change agriculture in England, which is why he was sort of demeaned, being called Farmer George, but he was actually trying to help the country. He opened the first public library so people could learn to read. He's a fascinating guy. And it's just so sad that all he's known for is for losing America and being mad."

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. (L to R) Neil Edmond as Earl Harcourt, Michelle Fairley as Princess Augusta, Richard Cunningham as Lord Bute in episode 102 of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.
Liam Daniel/Netflix

Did Queen Charlotte have a strained relationship with Princess Augusta?


Charlotte didn't always see eye-to-eye with her mother-in-law, especially during the early years of her marriage to George. Similar to the series, it is said that Augusta appointed many of Charlotte's staff, who then reported to Augusta about Charlotte's behavior.

Did Queen Charlotte have a close friendship with one of her ladies-in-waiting?


As Princess Augusta appointed many of the women in Charlotte's inner circle, she developed a close relationship with her bedchamber woman, Juliane von Schwellenberg, who came with her from Germany.

Like Lady Danbury on the Bridgerton series, Schwellenberg was a close confidante of the queen, and wielded great power within the royal court, eventually being given the office "keeper of the robes." However, her brazenness also caused conflict, with George reportedly threatening to send her back to Germany, though Charlotte stepped in on her behalf.

India Amarteifio as Young Queen Charlotte, Corey Mylchreest as Young King George in episode 101 of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
Liam Daniel/Netflix

Did King George III buy Buckingham Palace for Queen Charlotte?


A year after they wed, George bought Buckingham House (which became Buckingham Palace once the royal couple took residence) for Charlotte in 1762. Though St James's Palace was the official residence of the royal couple, Buckingham House quickly became one of their favorite homes. In fact, 14 of their 15 children were born there, per Britain magazine.

Did King George III gift Queen Charlotte with a Pomeranian?


Though the show depicts George gifting Charlotte a Pomeranian dog as a companion, the opposite happened in real life. When Charlotte traveled to England to marry George, she actually brought two Pomeranians, Phoebe and Mercury, with her, according to Harper's Bazaar.

Her love of the breed later became a tradition in the royal family as she gifted Pomeranians to other family members. Her granddaughter Queen Victoria eventually bred her dogs to have them as constant companions following the death of her husband Prince Albert.

Did Mozart play for Queen Charlotte when he was a kid?


As the Royal Household website points out, Charlotte and George were "connoisseurs of music" and would often have people play for them. Not only was the Queen's music-master Johann Christian Bach, the eleventh son of the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach, but she also had an 8-year-old Mozart perform for her. Mozart's Opus 3 was dedicated to Charlotte when it was published on Jan. 18, 1765.

Did Queen Charlotte have her children compete in a "baby race"?


Beginning in 1817, the royal family faced a "succession crisis" following the death of Princess Charlotte, who was the daughter of George and Charlotte's eldest son, George IV. After she died during childbirth along with her stillborn son, intense pressure was placed on the rest of Charlotte and George's children to produce a legitimate heir.

"The British public [at the time] — for them, [Princess Charlotte] was their [Princess] Diana," Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story costume designer Lyn Paolo explained to PEOPLE. "[Her death] was catastrophic for the royal family because she was bearing the only heir to the throne."

While a few of Charlotte and George's sons did welcome children, Edward was the oldest brother to do so, so his daughter took "precedence in the line of succession," History notes.

On May 24, 1819, at Kensington Palace, Edward and his wife Princess Victoria welcomed a daughter named Alexandrina Victoria, who would later become Queen Victoria and reign from June 1837 to January 1901.

Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte, James Fleet as King George in episode 104 of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
Liam Daniel/Netflix

Did King George III suffer from an illness during his reign?


The monarch, who has been coined as the "Mad King Who Lost America" (and gained some notoriety in recent years thanks to his representation in Hamilton), battled with a mental illness throughout his reign, first from 1788 to 1789 and again in 1801.

The Royal Household website notes that "George became permanently deranged in 1810," and was seen as "mentally unfit to rule in the last decade of his reign." As a result, his eldest son, George IV, acted as Prince Regent from 1811.

While some historians believe that George III's mental instability was a result of a hereditary physical disorder called porphyria, others now suggest he might have had bipolar disorder. In 2017, newly released documents shed light on the infamous King and his condition.

"There are papers in his own handwriting, where you can see him disintegrating into the disease, as well as information from his doctors and his attendants describing what's happening to him and the impact on his family," said Karin Wulf, director of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and a history professor at the College of William & Mary.

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