We needed to remind ourselves that “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” is not a love story by any means. It is a story about what made the Queen the way she was. The series has some parallels with real life, and Charlotte did indeed have 15 children, of whom 13 survived. George did rule for a long time, but with Charlotte taking over matters when he was confined due to his condition, She must have lorded over society, similar to the series. When we first saw Bridgerton, we were struck by the fact that marriages, a private affair between two individuals, needed permission from the Queen to happen, making it a political affair. It looks ridiculous, but it would be delusional to say that much has changed in the present day.
The economic and social standings of individuals are still important considerations in a marriage, as they were in Regency-era England. Love was considered a foolish endeavor, and if we are being honest, it still is if you check out some Asian households or take a closer look at the prevalent arranged marriage system across cultures. Women have been deemed unintelligent for many reasons across time, but their pursuit of love has been a primary reason for applying that word to them as if wanting something so inherent to being human implies a lack of brain cells. Either way, considering the disadvantages that most women face societally, marriage is seldom a romantic proposition. Maybe that is why love, as a fantasy, is primarily directed at women. It is the bait used to sell them the marital arrangement and convince them to put in the lion’s share of the emotional and social labor for the bare minimum, hoping for an elusive love from a fictional person who is attractive on paper but problematic in real life. But of course, Charlotte was raised on duty, so she probably never expected love to begin with.
It was clear from the get-go that her marriage was a contract, as we saw at the beginning of “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.” When Charlotte is getting ready for her wedding, and she asks about her future husband, she does mention how much she is willing to compromise. Charlotte had already accepted the bare minimum from a husband she had not yet met. It was only when she suspected that he might be abusive or something entirely different that she designed to run away. In fact, even after her wedding, when George ignored her relentlessly, Charlotte asked him first whether it was she who had made some mistake. It also did not escape our notice that when George said that his pursuit of stars and planets was the reason he had been ignoring her, she accepted it as if it made sense. Right from the beginning, Charlotte knew that marriage was a duty, and if there was to be love, it could only be a happy accident. The fate of Great Britain could not be compromised in pursuit of this happy accident.
We feel that it is important to remember that Charlotte was just 17 years old when she was married and had to make such strenuous decisions. Throughout her journey, be it the decision to marry George, to consummate as a duty, or even whether she should continue the relationship or not, Charlotte was told just one thing: that she was not her own person and that each and every fiber of her being belonged to the Crown. Charlotte does mention that she never wanted such a life. But then again, she was told that her life was not her own and she should not want anything. It is at this time that Lady Danbury’s advice saves Charlotte’s life. She tells the Queen that she must use the force of her own will to get what she wants, and we know that is what happens from then on.
However, let us assume for a second that Charlotte had never fallen in love with George. She wouldn’t have craved his company beyond her duty of childbearing, much like Lady Danbury. Now, we know it is difficult to hear, but we don’t believe that George was any different from Lord Danbury. Lord Danbury thought women were only fit for breeding, and George, before he met Charlotte, thought that was why he was getting a queen: to produce an heir and fulfill his duty. Let us assume that he never did fall in love with Charlotte. Would that have justified what he did then? Let us not forget that George said to Reynolds that it is because Charlotte is beautiful and brilliant that he is taking such measures for her safety. Does that mean that if she was less easy on the eyes and did not have nearly that smart a mouth, he was allowed to treat her as less than human? George and Charlotte fall in love but that does not excuse the life that Charlotte was set up for. We believe Charlotte understood this as she grew older and had to be satisfied with herself for company. All those years spent in the palace, and yet when she asks her servants who they work for, they say the king and don’t even mention her until she points it out to Brimsley.
The institution of marriage is not based on love, and in most cases, the system takes precedence over emotion. Charlotte was keenly aware of that, but not once did she question it. Charlotte was let down multiple times whenever she tried to claim independence. When she left the palace due to the neglect she faced during her pregnancy, she was reminded that she had no agency to make decisions. Marriage took precedence over the individual, and that lesson had been imprinted on her soul. Brimsley had a point when he said that if George had indeed passed away, Charlotte would have grieved for a while and then been fine. But she was stuck in a life she struggled to love. However, according to Charlotte, this is the way things were run. That is exactly why she did not care whether her children found love. Their duty was above their wants and desires, just like it had been for her.
Maybe Charlotte wished that they would not fall in love because this love had just made things tougher for her. If she did not love George, she would have an easier time due to the lack of fights and expectations. But that was far from the case. When there is a general lack of choices and equality in society, love does not make for ideal situations. Maybe if Charlotte got a do-over on her life, she would still go ahead and marry George because she did love him and, as a woman, she had a better life than most. But then again, it would not change the fact that love would never be considered a need by her, no matter the loneliness or heartache it brings. That is why she did not consider it for her children because she did not know any other way to be.