Was Queen Charlotte Really Black?


Netflix’s Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte may be works of fiction, but their portrayal of Queen Charlotte is surprisingly true to history – and she may well have been Black. Inspired by a series of novels by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton is set in London at the height of the Regency era. This was a time when the women of prosperous families sought the security of marriage, taking advantage of balls and social events as an opportunity to meet potential suitors. What’s more, just as in Bridgerton, it was also an age when anonymous gossip columnists began publishing their own accounts of the season.

Unlike Bridgerton, Queen Charlotte directly addresses issues of race, no doubt drawing uneasy parallels between the real world story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry for some viewers (particularly in terms of questions over skin tone). This is an important change, and one handled very smartly by drawing it into Charlotte’s story: particularly as it never arises as an issue even once between King George and Queen Charlotte themselves. But even with that blindspot, Charlotte is asked to realize her importance to racial equality – a question that sits as prominently in 2023 as it does in the 1780s in-universe.

Was Queen Charlotte Actually Black?

Queen Charlotte Pom Pom

Historians are actually divided about whether or not Queen Charlotte was Black. The theory was popularized by Mario De Valdes y Cocom, who believes Charlotte was descended from a Black branch of the Portuguese royal family: Alfonso III and his concubine, Ouruana. “Alfonso III of Portugal conquered a little town named Faro from the Moors,” Valdes told The Washington Post. “He demanded [the governor’s] daughter as a paramour. He had three children with her.” According to Valdes, one of these children married into Queen Charlotte’s family. And he points to portraits suggesting Charlotte was indeed Black, although frequently he believes artists whitewashed her appearance, as Queen Charlotte itself depicts through Princess Augusta.

Evidence For The Theory That Queen Charlotte Was Really Black

Queen Charlotte Painting

Further supporting evidence may come from the critical way in which Queen Charlotte was treated. “She was famously ugly,” Desmond Shawe-Taylor, surveyor of the Queen’s pictures, told The Guardian. “One courtier once said of Charlotte late in life: ‘Her Majesty’s ugliness has quite faded.’ There was quite a miaow factor at court.” It’s quite possible these criticisms actually reflected racist attitudes in British society, because certainly some of the insults sound like racial slurs. Sir Walter Scott described Queen Charlotte and her siblings as being “ill-colored, orang-outang looking figures, with black eyes and hook-noses.

Historians are divided about Valdes’ theory, with many dismissing it outright. There’s actually quite a generational distance between Queen Charlotte and her Black ancestor, so many argue she would not have inherited any so-called “African characteristics.” More to the point, the British Museum holds a number of popular caricatures of Queen Charlotte, and none of these portray her as Black. Still, in spite of the criticisms, the theory can’t really be disproven and the question remains unsettled. Bridgerton is, therefore, a fascinating window into a what-if world; what if Queen Charlotte really was Black? How would Regency England have reacted to that, and would Charlotte have taken advantage of the opportunity to elevate others who were Black as well – notably Simon, Duke of Hastings? “Putting that person at the top of the triangle, as a person of color, allows you to expand the boundaries,” Rosheuvel explained in an interview with Insider. “The possibility for Black characters to love, to be passionate, to be seen in high status. You allow all that space to happen if you have somebody, who was ruling the country as a person of color.

Whatever the truth may be in this matter, Queen Charlotte isn’t potentially even the first mixed-race Queen in British history. Another theory suggests Philippa of Hainault (1314-69), consort of Edward III, had African ancestry as well. Bridgerton certainly suggests British history books have been whitewashed a whole lot more than people may think.

What Is The Great Experiment – Did It Really Exist?

Richard Cunningham as Lord Bute in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.

Queen Charlotte introduces the idea of a Great Experiment as a politically motivated move to unite all races of people in the ton, in the name of strengthening the country. Along with Charlotte’s betrothal to George – which is not based on her skin color but the value of alliance with her country – Princess Augusta orchestrates peerages for each of the powerful black and other minority race families in the ton (including Simon Bassett’s parents and the Smythe-Smiths). This is essentially the first steps to ending racism and racial inequality in Bridgerton‘s universe – something the original show established as fact without explaining.

There is no evidence to suggest that there was a Great Experiment in the United Kingdom’s Regency Era in the same way Queen Charlotte depicts. While slavery may have been abolished in the UK in 1807 (within the Bridgerton timeline), racial equality was a distant hope. It is important, however, to acknowledge London’s black community, which – according to author Vanessa Riley’s research – amounted to at least 20,000 people in the era. The idea of peerages given out by the Crown to solidify relationships and remove divide may have been the right answer to speed up real world progression, but it is the stuff of fiction, written for Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte.

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  • Denis Ava

    Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling, finance, etc.

Denis Ava
Denis Avahttps://allbusinessreviews.org/
Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling, finance, etc.

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