top of page


- Jasmijn Groot -

For the first time, the creators of the Bridgerton phenomenon are deviating from the trodden path, bringing us new episodes to enjoy, which, for a change, are not based on Julia Quinn's books, but involve their own delightful fiction, obviously derived from historical fact. The new mini-series Queen Charlotte: A Brdigerton Story, the first of its kind in the Bridgerton series, is about untold stories, and by extension, facts that we love to share with others, or prefer to keep to ourselves. It is about hidden histories surrounding the realities of royal marriages, love after being widowed, womanhood and mental illness in the early 19th century. All these topics and more come together in the lives of two of the best characters in the Bridgerton universe: Queen Charlotte and Lady Agatha Danbury.


The original Bridgerton series used as one of its vantage points, the historical fact that our new favourite monarch, Queen Charlotte (played by India Ria Amarteifio and Gilda Rosheuvel), had enjoyed an actual love match. This new series brings some nuance to the inner workings of that union. The most interesting aspect of Charlotte's story, set off immediately by the dialogue in the opening scene, is that she, like most other royal brides of her time, was kept in the dark about her fate. For instance, she did not even know her husband-to-be, King George III of Great Britain and Ireland (Corey Mylchreest and James Fleet), and met him only briefly once before the wedding, which in reality was almost like a common procedure for European royal brides. Moreover, Charlotte in particular was not informed about a very specific characteristic of her betrothed: his state of mind. Historically, it was not only Charlotte who had to deal with this type of situation. The same happened, for instance, to George's youngest sister Carolina Mathilda, who married Christian VII of Denmark and Norway. This young monarch likely suffered from schizophrenia, a fact Carolina Mathilda was not told about, with all of its unforeseen consequences, which were the basis for the beautiful movie A Royal Affair (2012).

The real King George III started struggling with his mental health several years after his wedding day. Probably due to the royal family's attempts to keep it a secret, we do not know exactly what he suffered from or what the causes were. In any case, the series attributes it to the immense pressures that were connected to his role. He would certainly not have been the only one who cracked. Empress Sisi of Austria, for instance, suffered from anxiety, eating disorders and depression from the start of her marriage to Franz Joseph II until the end of her life, due to the enormous expectations of the Viennese court. With George’s narrative, the makers are able to hint at the unspoken past of the cruel treatment of psychiatric patients and the stigma on mental illness back in the day. A refreshingly modern touch is added by the rock-solid acting of Corey Mylchreest, whose character frantically tries to keep his psychological struggles a secret from his brand-new bride. The story does at times tend to focus a little towards the kind of narrative where a man is saved from his madness by the love of a woman. But hopefully, Mylchreest's disarming acting performance conveys to viewers what the positive effects can be when one reaches out to loved ones for help.


A series about Queen Charlotte is not complete, if we do not get to know her most trusted confidant, Lady Agatha Danbury (Adjoa Andoh and Arsema Thomas), a bit better. With her sharp tongue, blazing confidence and fine vigilance, Lady Danbury is perhaps our favourite character in the entire Bridgerton universe. But she is also the most mysterious. Whereas she knows all the ins and outs of the ton, we viewers actually know very little about her. We only learned in season two that she was once married. In this miniseries, we find out that her experience with marriage was the exact opposite of Queen Charlotte's. Her spouse was old, narcissistic and did not have a high opinion of Agatha. Charlotte adored her husband, Agatha unfortunately did not. We also learn that she did know love. It was just simply not with her husband. She got to know love only after she was widowed at a young age. And how!

Although it is Charlotte who plays the lead role in this series, it is once again Lady Danbury who shines brightest through her humble humanity and her wonderful advice, which all female viewers can take with them. She manages to win over our sympathy once again by encouraging Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) to share her own personal story as a widow, who is opening up to find love anew, leading the two women to develop a closer bond with each other. But like King George, Agatha remains a character who carefully chooses what she shares with the outside world and what she keeps to herself.

So again, a lot of stories have been told, but there are still things we can keep yearning for. What happened to the love of Charlotte's sidekick Brimsley? When did things really go completely downhill for King George? How did Charlotte handle it? And why does Lady Danbury have to walk with a cane? Are they ever going to tell us? Dearest gentle reader, I do hope so!

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is now streaming on Netflix. 


Image: Netflix (2023) Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.


bottom of page