Updated: May 20
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After the international success of season 1 and 2 of the series Bridgerton, it is only natural that we are on the edge of our seats for season 3! So imagine how pleasantly surprised we were when we saw that Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story was available on Netflix.
Then and there, S and I decided to start watching. We immediately recognised the familiar and comforting voice of Julie Andrews back as the narrator and telling us that Charlotte's story is "fiction inspired by fact".
Betrothed against her will, Queen Charlotte leaves her hometown in Germany and crosses the sea to marry the king of Great Britain, King George III. While most women at that time would have loved to be in her shoes, she proved to be different. She is bright, strong-willed, and determined. But at their first meeting, something sparkles and both are captured and fascinated by one another. Call it lust or a beginning of love - the feeling is there nonetheless. But things suddenly change the moment they marry. Queen Charlotte is lost. Marriage isn't quite as what she had thought it would be. But the problem, she later finds out, isn't her marriage - the problem is King George.
As history books have taught us, King George III is also known as The Mad King. It is unclear what his illness was exactly, but it was a mental one. King Georges and Queen Charlotte had a happy marriage and even had 15 children! But his illness, which was suspected to be either bipolar disorder or porphyria was characterised by episodes of behavioural change. At first, these episodes were recurrent and eventually in 1810 it became permanent.
Contrary to the Bridgerton series, I thought that Queen Charlotte is highly emotional and quite frankly, sad. There are no games here, no tug-of-war of feelings, no enemies-to-lovers taunting. We knew from the Bridgerton series that these two characters were deeply in love, but Queen Charlotte shows us just how that love came to be. This is about two individuals finding each other, falling in love, and struggling with the cards life dealt them with. He is a troubled young man fighting a mental illness at a time where medical resource was still scarce. Both are in love with one another and deserve to be, but his mental illness is a hard lesson the queen must learn to deal with and accept throughout the series. They could have had it all ... but they didn't.
Unlike in Bridgerton, I found that the side plots were just enough, or perhaps I just enjoyed them more. I loved seeing how Lady Danbury achieved equality in English nobility and how her ball eventually became the first ball of the season. I loved watching young Violet with her parents and seeing how different their marriage was from hers later on. And oh my gosh did my heart jump for joy for Brimsley and Reynolds! It is understood that things don't end well for them too, but it makes sense. Sadly, I think homosexuality at that time would have probably been severely punished ( by hanging?).
When all's been said and done, the story of Queen Charlotte is a story of love, but the bittersweet kind. A love based on respect, tenderness, and understanding. With no happily ever after, but worth the heartache.
They were literally all about spending the bad times together rather than good times apart.
Have you watched Queen Charlotte? What did you think?